The final weekend of the 2022 edition of Masters Reykjavik began with a historic day of matches. All four of the remaining teams played to whittle the field down to three, with the Brazilian LOUD LOUD Brazil Rank # squad locking themselves into the grand final and the Southeast Asian Paper Rex Paper Rex Asia-Pacific Rank #5 team going home with a fourth place finish.
LOUD defeated OpTic Gaming OpTic Gaming North America Rank # in the first match of the day on a 2-1 score. They will await the winner of ZETA DIVISION ZETA DIVISION Japan Rank #2 and OpTic Gaming after the former defeated Paper Rex 2-1 in the lower semifinal to advance to the lower final.
Paper Rex's fourth place finish is SEA's best finish at an international LAN.
The first match of the day saw LOUD clinch its first ever spot in the grand final of an international Valorant LAN with an exciting 2-1 victory over OpTic.
For the first time all tournament, LOUD took the stage to play their match. The team has played from isolation against their opponents throughout the tournament because of multiple players testing positive for COVID-19 toward the beginning of the tournament. The three day break from matches gave the squad just enough time to return from isolation.
The match look destined to be a short one after a decisive victory for OpTic in the opening map, Fracture, which was OpTic's map pick. Victor "Victor" Wong, one of just two players to pick Neon in the entire tournament, dominated straight out the gate, racking up 11 kills and just three deaths in the first six rounds — all victories for OpTic. They kept up their momentum to build a 10-2 lead by the end of their attack, then closed out the map with straight defusals to win 13-2.
Victor's unique agent selection worked like a charm. He had a perfect 100% KAST across the 15 rounds, scoring eight first kills while suffering just one first death, and earning the server high in ACS, kills, and damage.
“We couldn't play against their comp, and we struggled a bit,” Gustavo "Sacy" Rossi said in the broadcast interview after the match. “We just accepted it and said, ‘Okay. Ascent and Icebox we're comfortable [on], and we're going to win.'”
Victor and his OpTic teammates would not have such an easy time on LOUD's map pick of Ascent. The Brazilian side won three of the map's first four rounds, already surpassing their total from the map before. But OpTic worked their way back into the lead by halftime on a 7-5 score.crashies led the server in kills and damage on Ascent, but it wasn't enough to close out the match.
The second half of Ascent quickly transformed into a total reversal of the first half of Fracture, as OpTic seemed completely unable to break LOUD's defense. LOUD won eight out of their nine defensive rounds to take the map 13-8 and tie the series at one map a piece.
That map proved to be a warmup for LOUD's 17-year-old sentinel player, Felipe "Less" de Loyola, who led his team with 18 kills and 163 ADR on Ascent. Remarkably, he managed to earn more than double the first kills of anyone else on the server while playing the traditionally passive Killjoy, and balanced his six first kills equally between his team's attack and defense.
Unfortunately for OpTic, and fortunately for LOUD, Ascent proved to be a taste of what was to come on Icebox.
Although the map started close — LOUD had a 7-5 lead at halftime — it became immediately apparent Less had taken over the game. He racked up 17 kills in the opening 12 rounds while only dying seven times. For comparison, the next most kills on the server was Jimmy "Marved" Nguyen, his Viper counterpart, at 10, and only one other player died as few as seven times: crashies.
Less did not slow down as the teams traded streaks of rounds in the second half, even as OpTic battled back from down 12-8 to make the score 12-11. By the time LOUD closed out the map 13-11, Less had added another 16 kills to his total while dying just six times. He earned 33 kills on Icebox, 14 more than the next closest player, and died 13 times, two less than the next best on the server. His 234 ADR and 375 ACS far surpassed that of any other player.
“He carried us,” Sacy said of Less in his broadcast interview. He said he was proud of Less and the team's other rookie, aspas, for their performances in their first match on stage.
Across the entire series, Less had the most kills of any player in the match, and was the only member of his team to finish with a positive K/D.
On top of his rookie teammate's MVP performance, Sacy also credited their victory to the experience he and Matias "saadhak" Delipetro had last year at Champions as a member of Team Vikings. In their match against Gambit, the team took a commanding 12-5 lead in the final map, but lost the final nine rounds to lose the match. Vikings lost their next match and were eliminated from the tournament.
Sacy said their experience in that match helped the team's veteran leaders deal with OpTic's much smaller comeback better than their last team had against Gambit Esports Gambit Esports Inactive . LOUD kept their nerves when faced with the threat of overtime, and now sit in the grand finals.
Even after their failed comeback, OpTic isn't out of the tournament just yet. The team plays again tomorrow, and a win there will send them into the grand finals for a rematch against LOUD.
One more win will earn LOUD not just the Masters Reykjavik trophy, but also a perfect Stage 1. The team has won the first 17 matches in its history, all VCT matches from this past stage, and has yet to lose a single match.
History is on the line for LOUD on Sunday in more ways than one.
The second match of the day was a lower bracket battle of two Asian underdogs: Japan's ZETA Division and Southeast Asia's Paper Rex. One team's Cinderella run was bound to end, while the other was set to dance for at least one match more.
In the end, ZETA continued dancing after a strong pair of maps allowed them a 2-1 victory.
The match began with ZETA's pick: Icebox. The pick appeared to go in their favor at first — ZETA jumped out to a 4-3 lead early — but things quickly spiraled out of control for the Japanese side. Paper Rex won the final five rounds of the half to take an 8-4 lead, and then carried that momentum into the second to win the map 13-6.
Wang "Jinggg" Jing Jie ended the map with a server-high 22 kills to 12 deaths, as well as 298 ACS. The next highest was his Sage counterpart Tenta "TENNN" Asai, who ended the map with four less kills, four more deaths and 10 less ACS.
With Paper Rex one map away from victory, ZETA looked to answer back on Haven. The Japanese squad racked up five rounds, prompting Paper Rex to call a timeout. This proved to be beneficial as they did a fast A-site execution to win round six. ZETA's defense proved to be impenetrable as they won the next five of the six rounds, ending the half 10-2. Haven ended with three more wins – with the final score of 13-2 – for the Japanese representative, tying the series 1-1.
ZETA's Jett player Yuuma "Dep" Hisamoto was the star of Haven, ending the map with 19 kills and six deaths and a match-high 302 ACS, with the next highest being fellow veterans Ushida "Laz" Koji and Maruoka "crow" Tomoaki with 14 kills each. ZETA's teamwork resulted in a combined total of 69 kills, dwarfing Paper Rex's 35.
“In the first map, we lost and talked with the team to reset our minds towards the second map, and within the second map, I was able to play with no regret, and we won significantly,” said Dep.
That left everything on the line on Split. Paper Rex started the map by winning the pistol and anti-eco, but a back and forth would ensue as both teams won three consecutive rounds. ZETA DIVISION was able to tie the half 6-6 after winning the remaining rounds, excluding round 10.
ZETA's attack started on the wrong foot, losing the pistol and anti-eco after hard aggression from the Southeast Asian team. ZETA's slow tempo allowed them to win round 15, but Paper Rex's contrasting aggressive style was able to secure the next round win. With PRX up 9-7, they called for a timeout to attempt to snowball the momentum. But that was not the case.
Laz's heroic clutch on round 17 gave ZETA a lifeline, as they mounted a comeback to win the two rounds after. Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto's triple tied up the map 10-10, giving both teams a chance of winning the map. However, the clock struck midnight for the chaotic Southeast Asian squad, as ZETA DIVISION took the remaining three rounds to secure a spot in the lower finals.
Despite losing the map, f0rsakeN was the best performing player, racking up 25 kills and 301 ACS, with the next highest being ZETA's smokes player Shota "SugarZ3ro" Watanabe, with 24 kills and 268 ACS.
ZETA had a lot of respect for their Asian brothers in arms. Laz attributed Paper Rex's strength in being not only very aggressive, but also very careful in their strategy. Laz added that communication was key for adapting to Paper Rex's fast tempo and fixing their own mistakes along the way.
“I'm really happy right now; we were able to reach top-three in the world and number one in Asia,” said Laz.
Two more days remain in the competition, and tomorrow will be the decider match between OpTic Gaming and ZETA DIVISION. The winner will secure their place in the grand-finals against LOUD.
Tomorrow's lower finals match is:
tamagao contributed to this recap.
Header photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games