In the upper semifinals, Gen.G Gen.G Korea Rank #1 Munchkin Byeon Sang-beom (변상범) t3xture Kim Na-ra (김나라) Meteor Kim Tae-O (김태오) Lakia Kim Jong-min (김종민) Karon Kim Won-tae (김원태) shut down a surging 100 Thieves 100 Thieves North America Rank #6 bang Sean Bezerra Cryocells Matthew Panganiban eeiu Daniel Vucenovic Boostio Kelden Pupello Asuna Peter Mazuryk and G2 Esports G2 Esports North America Rank #5 icy Jacob Lange trent Trent Cairns valyn Jacob Batio JonahP Jonah Pulice leaf Nathan Orf weathered a storm until Team Heretics Team Heretics Europe Rank #1 MiniBoo Dominykas Lukaševičius Wo0t Mert Alkan RieNs Enes Ecirli benjyfishy Benjamin David Fish Boo Ričardas Lukaševičius imploded.

100T put up a good fight, but GENG refused to let them gain any momentum. A close fought 2-0 helped GENG take down their second straight top seed. TH looked completely dominant against G2 up until the moment it all fell apart. An 11-2 G2 comeback completely melted the Europeans' resistance.

GENG stun 100T

Both GENG and 100T won their opening playoff matchups, but their wins came in very different fashions. Whereas 100T completely obliterated FUT, GENG had to struggle through a 70 round barnburner to sneak past FNATIC.

After banning three different maps first in their three playoff matches, GENG's lack of a permaban gave them the freedom to add a fourth opening ban to the list. They got rid of Bind, a map which 100T have dominated all year.

GENG immediately showed that they were actually going to challenge 100T unlike FUT. They took very aggressive fights all over the place on their Icebox defense. Lakia got so many kills against pistols that he had his ultimate ready to use in round three. He outkilled all of 100T by himself through the first six rounds.

Missed chances defined 100T's early struggles. They allowed a trio of t3xture clutches in the first half and gave Karon a 4K clutch to start the second half. A Munchkin ace pushed GENG's lead to 11-3 before 100T finally woke up.

Antieco hero.

A 100T comeback was boosted by GENG's failed attempt to break a defensive Lockdown from Boostio. Four players got detained, throwing away one of their last chances to mess with 100T's economy. Seven rounds in a row pulled 100T within one round of tying the game at 11.

A timeout from GENG finally shook them out of it, and they took the map 13-10. Karon led the way with 24 kills. His 3-0 opening duel record helped with GENG's critical +9 opening kill differential.

Ascent started nearly as poorly for 100T. Throughout the first six rounds, the North American squad only managed to win an eco round. Despite the power of Ascent defense, they couldn't manage to repel GENG's site hits.

It was only when GENG tried playing around mid that 100T found their footing. Back-to-back multikills from bang in Market kicked off another 100T run. They turned a four round deficit into a one round lead before entering the half tied.

A wild sequence kicked off the final half of the series. 100T won the pistol, but a Sheriff 4K from t3xture sent them right back down to an eco round. They won that eco round, but GENG returned with yet another eco round victory to stuff any momentum.

100T played almost exclusively on the extremities of the map during their attack. Very rarely did a player touch mid while the round was still winnable. GENG had a stranglehold on the main chokepoints, and quickly jumped to map and match point. They took the map with another 13-10 despite t3xture forgetting to buy a gun in the final round.

It was a great win for a GENG squad that took down yet another top seed in a difficult environment. Their recent form is all the more impressive because of the illness spreading through their team and keeping them from the handshake line. With the win, they set themselves up for a second straight top-three finish internationally.

TH collapse against G2

G2 and TH were familiar foes after facing off in the Swiss Stage. In that match, G2 took down TH to qualify for the playoffs in the only match Wo0t has gone negative all tournament thus far.

This time, TH decided to allow their permaban, Ascent, through the veto.They also gambled by picking Icebox first. The map was one of G2's favorites in the Americas, but they did look rough when they played it against T1 in the Swiss Stage.

G2 decided to switch up their agent composition on Icebox. They replaced Omen with Sage for some extra defensive stopping power and spike control. Unfortunately for them, their extremely slow style found very few openings to get into advantageous post-plants despite the Sage utility.

TH ran out to an 11-2 lead with ease. When they went aggressive, they won fast. When they played passively, they forced G2 into a late round time crunch as they tried to plant.

This is benjyfishy's ocean.

A force buy after the second pistol loss gave G2 a chance. They converted that round and a few more after that, but there is no world where TH would fail to convert an 11-2 lead… this map. G2 eventually fell 13-7.

Every single member of TH finished with at least as many kills as the top performer from G2. At the top of the scoreboard was benjyfishy with an absurd 28-6 scoreline.

TH's gamble on Ascent appeared to be paying off when they replicated their Icebox performance. G2's attack once again looked lifeless. TH got another ten rounds first half off the back of an 18 kill slaughter by Wo0t.

After losing the second pistol to go down 11-2, G2 were once again faced with a force buy to keep them alive. Even once they won the round, they were still in just as big of a hole as they were on Icebox.

However, defense on Ascent is a completely different beast than Icebox. With their backs against a wall, G2 won round after round. JonahP and trent kept the sites on lockdown against TH's attack. In particular, trent wreaked havoc with an Odin that TH could never uproot from B.

Wo0t managed just two kills in the second half as G2 won 11 rounds in a row for the 13-11 victory. On the other side, trent got 19 of his map leading 27 kills in the second half.

The mental effects of throwing such a massive lead seemed to bite TH on the final map. G2 took the fight to them from the starting gun and never looked back.

Good ideas meet good execution.

A 3K clutch from benjyfishy threatened to keep G2 from running away with things on Lotus, but he and the rest of his team couldn't follow it up with any other hero plays. G2 only reached an 8-4 lead in the half, but the game already felt over, especially considering they were switching onto the attack of the most attacker sided map in the game.

With the tides completely turned, G2 finished off their opponents 13-4. JonahP finished with more kills (28) than the bottom four TH players combined (27).

Despite the collapse, TH still showed tremendous upside. They nearly blew out G2 to reach a guaranteed top three placement at an international LAN while playing with a substitute player.

After a long and difficult road through Ascension in the Americas and very nearly being denied their slot, this G2 roster is now approaching the crest of the tallest competitive hill in Valorant. They still have another year on their Ascension contracts, but they don't want to waste time. With limited opportunities for success, they have accelerated straight to contender status.

Coming Up

100T fell to the lower bracket where they will have another matchup with a Pacific squad. This time they will battle PRX to determine the only top seed to escape the bottom of the playoff standings. TH will battle FUT in a regional rematch to determine the last EMEA team left in the event.

Banner image by Liu YiCun/Riot Games.