Acend take on M3 Champions in EMEA Challengers Stage 2 in a rematch from 2021 VCT Challengers.
M3 Champions took a resilient 2 - 0 win against Acend in the first match of the EMEA Challengers Stage 2 Playoffs. This was to be the first match between the two teams since the VCT Champions Grand Final. However, this time it would be a different sort of struggle as neither team had been in particularly good form coming into this match.
M3C, who qualified for playoffs despite having a 2 - 3 record, have long looked like a shadow of the team that they were last season. Not only do they currently have the worst map and round differentials of the six playoff teams, but so far Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin has been the only consistent fragger for M3C.
On the other hand Acend were a team looking to prove themselves again. Despite finishing Group A with a 4 - 1 record they have been having their own struggles. Whether it has been a lack of consistency, a different roster, or players like Mehmet Yagiz "cNed" Ipek struggling in the post-Jett meta, Acend just haven't been able to showcase the kind of play that saw them win VCT Champions.
Acend vs M3 Champions Full Match Recap
Map 1: M3 Champions pull the rug out from Acend on Bind
There was plenty of intrigue as the teams loaded into Bind for Map 1 of the series. In effort to spice things up from the get go, M3C decided to go for an unusual team composition, with Nikita "d3ffo" Sudakov playing Sky and Timofey "Chronicle" Khronov taking the reigns of Raze.
M3C took the opening pistol round in fairly comfortable fashion, with nAts getting an impressive 3k. And from that point on the map turned into a very scrappy affair, with M3C just barely managing to hang on to their early lead. And though they went into halftime up 7 - 5, they were now going to have to see if their unusual composition would allow them to close out the map.
Acend managed to win the second pistol round, something which they have struggled to do in the past. M3C managed to trade that round out to maintain their 2 round lead. Acend managed to pull off a very surprising thrifty round win afterwards. Unfortunately could not turn into anything meaningful. And thanks to some individual brilliance from nAts, Sheydos and Redgar M3C managed to take Bind 13 - 7 to snatch a 1 - 0 lead in the match.
Map 2: M3C take Breeze in triple OT despite Monsteerr mayhem
After having had Bind stolen out from under their noses, Acend were stuck in a difficult situation. They were now heading to Breeze which had been M3C's bread and butter for a long time. And with cNed's individual struggles coming to light once more following the huge Jett nerf, this seemed like it was M3C's game to lose at this points.
This seemed to be the case early on as M3C ploughed through Acend to take an early 4 - 0 lead. But Acend began to show a lot of life on defense, with cNed having a much better game this time around and Ondrej "Monsteerr" Petru living up to his name. Acend managed to accrue a very impressive 7 - 5 lead going into halftime, but all in all this was a more favorable position for M3C, who statistically perform better on defense on Breeze.
M3C took the second pistol round and the subsequent round to tie the map up 7 - 7. The pair traded blows with Acend regaining the lead at 10 - 8. But M3C bounced back with three hard fought rounds to take the lead at 11 - 10. But Monsteerr and Starxo proved to be the bane of M3C's existence; fragging their way through their opponents to force Breeze into overtime.
Overtime on Breeze was as much of a back-and-forth affair as it was in regulation time. But it was following Second OT that the cracks began to show for Acend. M3 Champions continued to grind them down in the EMEA Challengers Stage 2 playoffs.
It was a thrilling map from start to finish but it was in OT 3 where, at long last, M3C managed gain the upper hand and ultimately won Breeze 16 - 14. Winning the series 2 - 0 and setting themselves up with a winners bracket matchup with Guild Esports.