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The 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Stage 1 Masters tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland is now down to just four teams: North America's OpTic Gaming, Brazil's LOUD, Japan's ZETA DIVISION, and Singapore's Paper Rex.
LOUD and OpTic Gaming are in the upper bracket finals, fighting for the first spot in the grand finals. Meanwhile, ZETA DIVISION and Paper Rex are in Round 3 of the lower bracket and will be battling to stay alive in the tournament.
One of these four teams will be claiming the trophy in Reykjavík, and here are our predictions for how the final leg of the tournament will play out.
Upper Bracket Finals: OpTic Gaming defeats LOUD
Brazil’s LOUD will face North America’s OpTic Gaming in the upper bracket finals.
As the first seed from Brazil, LOUD have undoubtedly proved that they earned their automatic spot in the Masters Reykjavík playoffs, thanks to a dream run that consisted of dropping Team Liquid and G2 Esports.
Meanwhile, on the other end are OpTiC Gaming, currently standing as the last North American team in the event. Far from their initial defeat during the opening stages, OpTic have come back in full form following a winning streak during the group stage and a victory over regional rivals The Guard.
We predict that the North American squad hold the upper hand over Brazil’s LOUD for these reasons. As the first team to reach the Top 3, OpTic have been shown to capitalize on their enemy’s sloppiness, with Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker pouncing for the kill each time.
This is an advantage against LOUD, whose lack of long-term experience may prove fatal, especially in terms of getting an early lead.
However, the Brazilian superteam’s coordination and aggression can also throw OpTic off their balance.
Despite this, OpTic seem to be in better form in terms of recovery and resistance, which, combined with their experience, gives the North American squad a higher shot at going straight to the finals.
Lower Bracket Round 3: ZETA Division defeats Paper Rex
Japan’s ZETA Division are certainly coming into this match with a true underdog story. After getting stunned in Day 1, the Japanese squad have steadily adjusted and learned from their past mistakes, leading to a surge in performance that pushed them into the Top 4.
Meanwhile, Paper Rex's direct playoffs spot proved to be fruitful. As a Southeast Asian powerhouse, the team were able to make their way to the Top 4 despite some initial resistance.
While this match can go either way, Paper Rex's chaotic playstyle could give them an early lead and even let them dominate ZETA in maps where the latter are inexperienced.
However, ZETA have shown during past matches that they can adapt. This, along with their solid defensive strategies, could help the Japanese team catch up and maybe even dominate their opponents.
Furthermore, ZETA have been one of the teams with the best aim so far in the tournament, thanks in large part to Koji “Laz” Ushida and Shota “SugarZ3ro” Watanabe.
But with members like Benedict “Benkai” tan and Jason “fOrsakeN” Susanto playing on the side of Paper Rex, it will be far from smooth-sailing.
Still, ZETA’s willingness to play the long game in terms of defense and their high headshot percentage can give the Japanese hopefuls the winning edge to advance into the lower bracket finals.
Lower Bracket Finals: ZETA Division defeats LOUD
As our upper bracket finals prediction sees LOUD falling into the lower bracket finals, there’s a high possibility of them facing the Japanese underdogs.
Like most of the matches in this series, this one can go either way, but past performance shows that LOUD’s aggression may give them the edge. Still, ZETA have demonstrated better performance in an area where LOUD is lacking: winning the pistol rounds.
This, along with Tenta “TENNN” Asai’s quick maneuvers, could turn the tide in ZETA’s favor, especially when put on a map like Split or Fracture. However, LOUD have shown that it can keep up its momentum, especially with players like Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi and Erick “aspas” Santos.
However, when push comes to shove, we think ZETA’s individual and team plays can throw LOUD off-balance. At the same time, the Japanese squad's defensive strategies can prove helpful in a best-of-five scenario to overcome their Brazilian opponents.
Grand Finals: OpTic Gaming defeats ZETA Division to claim the championship
As we predict that ZETA have a solid shot at reaching the grand finals from the lower bracket, it will mean they will be facing OpTic Gaming.
In any case, OpTic are a well-oiled machine, a definitive threat that can immediately scatter ZETA’s strategies. During past performances, OpTic’s Austin “crashies” Roberts and yay have become the team’s assets, clutching ace after ace for the team.
That said, ZETA’s patience has helped the team perform much better than expected, so it’s also likely that it can help them close out the gap. Keep in mind that the team have had one of the quickest spike plant percentages in the series, which can help them swing the odds in their way.
Still, pitting them against OpTic puts them in a challenging position. With the North American’s affinity for surprising their opponents, it may be hard for them to overcome the odds.
Ultimately, this can spell victory for OpTic Gaming in the VCT Stage 1 Masters Reykjavík.
— VALORANT Champions Tour (@ValorantEsports) April 21, 2022
All matches in the playoffs will be a best-of-3, except for the lower bracket finals and the grand finals, which will be best-of-5 series.
The champions of VCT Masters Reykjavík will claim the lion's share of US$200,000 out of the US$675,000 prize pool as well as 750 circuit points.
Feb has been trying to speedrun Super Mario 64 ever since he started playing video games at 11 years old. He has never succeeded, but has completed other video games in the time since. When not playing, he's usually playing music or building Gunpla.