FunPlus Phoenix punched their ticket to Masters 2 Copenhagen after a hard fought victory over M3 Champions.
FunPlus Phoenix are heading to VCT Masters 2 in Copenhagen after a hard-fought 2 - 1 win over M3 Champions in the EMEA Challengers Playoffs. Both teams were vying for the final qualification spot for Masters 2 Copenhagen in this intense lower bracket matchup.
This marks the second time this season that FPX have qualified for a VCT Masters LAN. However this time it will mean that much more for the FPX players who will at long last be getting to attend their first LAN event in the VCT era.
Especially after various circumstances prevented them from being able to attend Masters 1 in Reykjavik despite finishing as the EMEA Challengers Stage 1 Champions. A feeling which all of FPX have been trying to forget, as Andrey "Shao" Kiprsky stated in his post-match interview.
"I don't even want to remind myself of the last LAN because we couldn't go. So I am just happy that we could make it again. We are a top tier team and I am really proud of the effort we put into it."
It is difficult to see where M3 Champions go from here. They proved that they are still a strong team all throughout playoffs. But whether they will be able to get their act together in time for the Last Chance Qualifiers remains to be seen.
FunPlus Phoenix vs M3 Champions full match recap
FPX survive close encounter on Ascent
The teams headed to Ascent for the first map of the series and it already looked like it could be a scrappy affair with their respective team compositions. Especially with Timofey "Chronicle" Khromov opting to use Raze and Ayaz "nAts" Ahkmetshin hoping to continue his good run of form with Chamber.
FPX got off to a good start by winning the first pistol round followed by the second round. M3C responded with three rounds of their own, but they proved to be very costly affairs for the most part. And though it was a very close fight for the most part, FPX were managing to win a lot of their individual battles.
Kyrylo "Ange1" Karasov and Ardis "Ardiis" Svarenieks in particular were having a lot of success in the first half. But M3C managed to keep things from getting out of hand, but it was still advantage to FPX; who were going into halftime with a 7 - 5 lead on Ascent.
FPX took the second pistol round in fast fashion with Pontus "Zyppan" Eek getting a nice 4k. But nAts responded with a 4k of his own to keep the deficit to just two rounds. From that moment on the momentum shifted completely in M3C's favor as they slayed their way into an 11 - 9 lead. With Chronicle having much more of an impact with his Raze in this half alongside nAts' Chamber.
It looked as though M3C had this map in the bag. But FPX refused to say die and after denying their opponents the chance to reach map point, they managed to chain the final four rounds of regulation together. And with that FunPlus Phoenix were able to snatch Ascent away from M3C 13 - 11 to take a 1 - 0 lead in the Masters Copenhagen series.
M3C snap back to life on Breeze
Although M3C had fallen to FPX on Ascent, there was still a general consensus that they would be able to bounce back in Map 2. Especially considering that the game was now heading to Breeze, which heavily favored M3C in a statistical sense. And things got interesting at the start of the game as M3C opted to play a non-duelist team composition with Nikita "d3ffo" Sudakov in particular opting to go with Kay0. FPX on the other hand were banking on Ange1's Yoru to come in clutch on Breeze.
FPX took the first couple of rounds to start the proceedings on map 2. M3C got their first round on the board off the back of an incredible clutch from Igor "Redgar" Vlasov with his Omen. From that point on it was fairly close between the two teams, but FPX had the slight advantage over their Russian counterparts, with Dmitry "Suygetsu" Ilyushin having another standout performance.
FPX went into halftime up 7 - 5. And though M3C had often been reliant on their strong defensive play on Breeze, they were going to have to put everything into their offense in order to keep themselves in the fight for Copenhagen.
M3C took the second pistol round to start their offensive half; their first pistol round of the series as well. And from there they were able to chain together four more rounds in a row to take the lead at 10 - 7. FPX managed to halt their momentum with a couple rounds of their own but ultimately were unable to stem the tide. M3 Champions managed to snatch Breeze away from FPX 13 - 9 to tie the series up at 1 - 1.
Zyppan and Shao "Fracture" M3C's hopes and dreams in Map 3
After their dominant performance on Breeze it looked as though M3C truly had the wind in their sales coming into Map 3. And following another set of grueling maps there was a question mark over whether FPX would be able to get this one over the line. What occurred on Fracture turned out to be less of a showdown and more of a scene from a slasher movie.
FPX took the first pistol round in flawless fashion. And from that point on they pulled off five more rounds in a row before M3C manage to finally get a round on the board. But the massacre continued on from that point as FPX won four more rounds in a row to cross the double digit mark; large in part due to the combined efforts of Shao and Zyppan, who proved to be the stuff of nightmares for M3C. The first half ended with FPX leading the map at 10 - 2, and M3C's chances of recovery next to impossible.
FPX won the second pistol round with relative ease once again, much to the dismay of M3C who desperately needed to win the round if they were to stage a late comeback on their defense. Though M3C managed to win the succeeding two rounds, it only served to reduce the deficit. And with one final swing of the hammer FunPlus Phoenix closed out Fracture 13 - 4 to win the match 2 - 1 and secure their spot at Masters 2 Copenhagen.