Today, 100 Thieves made the playoffs of Masters Berlin. G2 Esports G2 Esports Europe Rank #5 and Sentinels Sentinels North America Rank #1 broke 800,000 concurrent viewers, second only to the Reykjavik grand final in Valorant viewership records.
Group B's second opener was played today between KRÜ Esports KRÜ Esports Latin America South Rank #1 and ZETA DIVISION ZETA DIVISION Asia-Pacific Rank #3 , favoring the LATAM representatives. After the record-breaking Sentinels vs. G2 match, won by the Masters 2 champions, it was 100 Thieves 100 Thieves North America Rank #2 who qualified for the playoffs over Gambit Esports Gambit Esports Europe Rank #1 .
Things looked grim for Japan on Ascent, with KRÜ flying to an 11-1 scoreline. ZETA had had enough of it after switching sides and started placing rounds on the board. The team's retakes were electrifying, explosive and unstoppable as they started slowly closing the gap. In the end, KRÜ took the first map 13-8.
Takebayashi "barce" Ryo subbed in for Miyamoto "makiba" Akastuki for Split, enabling ZETA DIVISION to grab the bull by the horns and tie the series 13-5. Bind was a 13-7 win favoring KRÜ, who kept the map in their control at all times despite ZETA stealing a few rounds.
"I think we couldn't perform well today," said Ushida "Laz" Koji. "This was makiba's first time on an international event and he was using Astra, which is a difficult agent to use. I think I could have done better on supporting his mental."KRÜ may not have won the map, but it wasn't due to lack of Joaquin "delz1k" Espinoza trying.
Sound issues have been affecting players ever since the tournament started. One of the teams affected was ZETA DIVISION today. "We couldn't really hear everything when we got on stage," Laz said. "We tried to do our plan under the circumstances."
This showed on round 11 of Bind, where two KRÜ players stormed onto B site and ZETA just werent't aware of it. As such, an hour-long technical break delayed Game 2, as Riot tried to fix some of the audio issues players have complained about in the first two days.
The second game of the day was the most built up match of the VCT this far. None compared.
Sentinels vs. G2 Esports.
Carlos "ocelote" Rodrigues, G2's CEO and the main fabricator of the banter between the organizations, rented a plane for the occasion.
"I think [the plane] was just cringe," Jared "zombs" Gitlin fired back. "I mean, he needs a tax write off. So, I mean, I would do that too if I was running a business."
The viewership numbers broke 620,000 concurrent viewers across all streams before the game started. By map 2, it had surpassed 800,000 viewers.
Viewership was all G2 had to say for themselves for the first map, getting decimated on Sentinels' Split pick. As Sentinels took the map 13-6, they were all but having fun with G2. Sentinels kept winning rounds and incessantly mocking G2—Hunter "SicK" Mims and Michael "dapr" Gulino even complimented G2.
"I wouldn't say [the trash talk affected us] because they're the ones that need to defend their title," nukkye shrugged it off. "We don't have anything. For us, we take it one game at a time and our goal is to have fun too. Winning is a priority, but fun is also very important for us."
Fulfilling nukkye's words, G2 had fun on Icebox. They were feeling the energy, especially newcomer keloqz and AvovA. G2 won the first half 8-4 and Sentinels quickly tied it up. From that, no one could step EMEA's fourth seed on their way to the game win. 13-8, G2 were the first team to take a map from Sentinels on LAN.Cista "keloqz" Wassim did hit nice shots.
"I think we just lost a lot of Defending rounds that we shouldn't have lost," zombz recalled. "I don't think they were doing anything special. I think we just let them get into it by messing up things on our end. But that won't happen again, so we're good."
Stealing a map from Sentinels is not something to be taken lightly. It's one thing to play Sentinels, it's another one to awake the beast in them.
Map three was Haven—the Champions' pick. A map where they carry an infamous reputation. They planned to keep it for Berlin, going 11-1 up on attack. Defense was a bit tougher for Sentinels, but there was nothing G2 could do to stop the 13-8 win.
"They have a snowball effect on the team," Žygimantas "nukkye" Chmieliauskas said regarding their troubles today. "They hit amazing shots and it's really hard to do anything against them. Then we become really readable and they just kill us all—snowball us."
"I don't think G2 surprised us at all. Honestly, the two maps that we did win we completely destroyed them and it wasn't even close," zombs said in the post-match scrum.
"I think it's going to be really hard against F4Q, because they're a really good team and people don't understand that." nukkye went on to say the players are smart and experienced on LAN, able to adapt based on past performances. "Same goes for Sentinels—I think we can bring a better fight against Sentinels next match."
zombs had a simple answer when asked if G2 and the other EMEA teams would come back stronger to defeat them and other NA teams.
A plane from Sentinels was soon flying.It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope, it's just nukkye.
The final match of the day decided the first playoffs team of Berlin. The experienced 100 Thieves against the Gambit powerhouse.
Gambit picked Ascent, a map where they last got 13-1'd, ironically enough. They again showed nerves are not an issue, allowing 100 Thieves solely five defending rounds on the map. The map was a Nikita "d3ffo" Sudakov masterclass.
"We had some game plans going into Ascent, they kind of threw a curveball at us changing their comp," Hiko said. Joshua "steel" Nissan seemed to echo his thoughts, saying Gambit was "doing stuff directly to counter what we were doing."
100 Thieves picked Icebox for map two, but even then Gambit shot up to a 9-3 scoreline. The Russian squad managed two more rounds and, from there, all the attention turned to 100 Thieves, who went on a 10-round rampage.
Everything was falling into place for 100 Thieves, who collectively seemed to wake up for the second half. steel, after going 0/8 in the first nine rounds, had more multikills in the second half than most of the players had across the whole game and eventually ended the match in second for his team.
"It felt like I had a drill piece going through the middle of my head in the first map, map and a half. I was drawing blanks for a lot of things. It was hard for me to get personally involved in the game," he said post-match.
The experience started coming out in the team, who never got comfortable in the comeback. 100 Thieves were chasing rounds—and players, though that didn't work out so well. steel requested a timeout at 11-11, giving his team one more round.
"It was a 9-3 half, we lost pistol... we gave them the 11-3, we crawled it back round by round," steel explained. "It was all about just making sure that we're on the same page and every decision we made, we made sure that we were grouped when we did it."
12-11 up, Spencer "Hiko" Martin put in a 1v3 post-plant clutch on B to give his team the map win 13-11, forcing Split. The North American veteran carries the most experience in his team over a decade of professional play, showed by his cold eight clutch wins, the most out of anyone in the tournament.If there's a player on your team you should trust with a clutch, it's Hiko.
The final map was Split. With steel back on his KAY/O pick, 100 Thieves cruised to the 9-3 half. It was from here they came back on Icebox, but Gambit had a thing or two to say. The gap was closed to 10-7, but Clutch Master Hiko scored another 1v3 to further his team. From here it was a tough fight, but 100 Thieves took it 13-10.
"I've always been somebody that performs best when I'm under pressure. I get in a clutch, whether it's 1v5, a 1v1, whatever it might be, and I feel my brain just moving faster," Hiko said. "I'm just piecing together how I'm going to attack the round."
One of the important factors for both teams today was LAN experience. A squad with 30+ years of it against a team with virtually none.
"I talked to some of the Gambit guys and they were saying that that was a big factor for them. They felt like some of their players just didn't perform as well as they could have," explained Hiko. "There's no crowd and you don't hear the vibrations of all the fans cheering, it's still important. I think the LAN pressure still exists, maybe not as to the same extent as it would be with an audience.
Nick "nitr0" Cannella's celebration was one for 100 Thieves as they surged back into the match. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
100 Thieves' win makes them the first team locked into playoffs for the entire tournament so far. Two more will lock in their place tomorrow.
"It feels really good. I think a lot of teams doubted us," Hiko said. The Sova main went on to say he felt people thought of 100 Thieves as an overhyped team because of the names in the squad. "After we won First Strike, I think people expected us to do what Sentinels did."
"It feels good to come here and perform and do what we were meant to do. This is no surprise now. This is what this team was built for. Playing at big tournaments at performing when it matters."
Envy Envy North America Rank #3 face KRÜ Esports KRÜ Esports Latin America South Rank #1 for the first playoffs spot of Group B. Vision Strikers Vision Strikers Korea Rank #1 and Acend Acend Europe Rank #2 will play for the same in Group A.
Tomorrow's matches are: