FunPlus Phoenix edged out Paper Rex in a hard-fought 3-2 win to claim the Masters 2 title in Copenhagen
FunPlus Phoenix stands victorious at Masters 2 Copenhagen after defeating Paper Rex 3-2 in the Grand Final. There was a lot of excitement surrounding this particular matchup as it featured two teams playing their first-ever Masters Grand Final. A bout between two teams with very distinct play styles. On one side of the stage was the high-flying Paper Rex, the first ever APAC team to make it to the Grand Finals of a Masters Event.
Having started in the Upper Bracket of the tournament due to their high seeding, Paper Rex managed to dazzle us all with their highly aggressive play style. A style which saw them blitz past Guild Esports, Fnatic, as well as the defending Masters 1 Champions, OpTic Gaming.
On the opposite end of the stage was FunPlus Phoenix, the team that had faced the most adversity out of all the teams competing at this event. From roster issues, with the added resentment of not being able to attend Masters 1, were effectively tossed to the side thanks to an incredible lower-bracket run at Masters 2. Given that they were the final EMEA team standing at this tournament it seemed only fitting that FPX be the ones to carry that banner onto the grand final stage.
FPX reach the Masters 2 Grand Final the hard way
To say FPX had a tumultuous time in getting to the Masters 2 Grand Final would be an understatement. The newly crowned Masters 2 Champions had faced more than their fair share of adversity even before the tournament had begun. They weren't able to attend the first Masters tournament in Reykjavik, due to a plague of issues that prevented their core roster from being able to compete. A sentiment which was at the forefront of their arrival in Copenhagen.
They had a similar issue creep up when their star Controller Dmitry "Suygetsu" Ilyushin was unable to join the team for the Group Stage due to a visa-related issue. Leaving FPX to bring in Mathias "Seider" Seider as a substitute player until said issues could be resolved.
Things seemed to go alright for FPX despite the sudden roster change as FPX managed to defeat Xerxia Esports in their opening match, with Ardis "Ardiis" Svarenieks and Pontus "Zyppan" Eek leading the way in terms of fragging ability. And despite losing the Group B Winners match against DRX they were able to bounce back in a close match with Northeption to qualify for the knockout stage. With "Shao" being one of the standout players from the Group Stage with his ferocious Initiator skill.
Things didn't get off to a great start in the Knockout Stages for FPX as they were soundly defeated by their EMEA rival Fnatic. Condemning them to run the Lower Bracket Gauntlet. Despite the setback, it was after this match, oddly enough, that things began to turn around for them. Because Suygetsu had finally arrived on the stage.
FPX make the lower-bracket run
They started off with a narrow win over Guild Esports,. They then went on to get their revenge on DRX in an utterly dominant match which saw everybody on FPX finishing with a positive K/D.
Then came their pivotal rematch with Fnatic, a team who had consistently beaten them across their 4 previous meetings in Stage 2. But the fifth time was the charm for FPX as they pulled off a dominant 2 - 1 win. That dominance carried on over into their match with OpTic Gaming in the Lower Bracket final, which they won in a comprehensive 3 - 1 fashion. Setting them up for their date with destiny against Paper Rex.
FunPlus Phoenix vs Paper Rex in the Masters 2 Copenhagen Grand Final
The match was incredibly close from start to finish, with neither team really able to carve a significant advantage into proceedings. Except for the first map Bind, which FPX won with a resounding 13 - 3. Paper Rex responded well to going down early by snatching Icebox away from FPX 13 - 7, with Jinggg getting an impressive ace in Round 5.
It was a back and forth affair for the succeeding two maps as well, with neither one managing to win on their own map picks. But on the fifth and final map Breeze, it seemed as though Paper Rex were about to throw the kitchen sink at FPX when they opted for a very unusual composition made up of an Astra and a Breach over Viper and Skye. Which sent the entire analyst desk into a fit of hysteria.
Though Paper Rex did show some success with it at various points on the map. A match which saw them take the lead on two occasions. It seemed like at last, they had found the winning formula. But ultimately their composition proved to be a hindrance for them against FPX's setup. And with one final moment of brilliance from Suygetsu, FunPlus Phoenix managed to close out Breeze 13 - 9 to win the Masters 2 Grand Final 3 - 2.
Shao and Suygetsu run the show in the Grand Final
In such an action-packed series it can be hard to single out any one player in particular as being above the competition; especially between these two teams. And everybody from FPX certainly had a few highlight reel performances across all 5 maps. But in the end, there were two players who proved themselves worthy of "True Idol" status, and they were Shao and Suygetsu.
The Russian duo were a constant threat across all 5 maps. Their highly effective utility usage, coupled with their impeccable crosshair placements, made even the most impossible situations win-able. Both of these players had put on MVP-caliber performances. But there could only be one, and in this case and in the eyes of the VCT community, that man was Suygetsu. The man who had seemingly turned FPX's prospects at this tournament on their head.