NRG ft. the old OpTic core and LOUD face off in a battle for survival cover image

NRG ft. the old OpTic core and LOUD face off in a battle for survival

This is the sixth time FNS and Sadhaak alongside their teams are butting heads. With both rosters having changed though, who will win today?

OpTic Gaming and LOUD were THE rivalry to watch out for in 2022. Both teams ended up facing off in every single international event of the year, often in win-or-go-home situations. Now once again, at VCT LOCK//IN, the old OpTic core, now playing for NRG, and LOUD with two new faces are going to face off in an elimination game.

The winner makes the playoffs. The loser goes home.

What happened the last five times these teams faced off?

VCT Masters Reykjavik upper bracket finals
LOUD (2-1)
VCT Masters Reykjavik grand finals
OpTic (3-0)
VCT Masters Copenhagen group elimination match
OpTic (2-1)
VCT Champions Group Stage
OpTic (2-1)
VCT Champions upper bracket finals
LOUD (2-0)
VCT Champions grand finals
LOUD (3-1)

The first time LOUD went up against OpTic Gaming, was at VCT Masters Reykjavik. They faced off against OpTic in the upper bracket finals and beat them 2-1 to make it to the grand finals. However, OpTic was able to make it to the grand finals themselves and defeated LOUD to take the trophy. Both teams were now 1-1 against each other.

At Masters Copenhagen, these two teams were in the same group and ended up facing each other in a brutal elimination match. OpTic came out as the winner this time around, ending LOUD's run in the event and solidifying their rivalry. OpTic was now 2-1 against LOUD.

At VCT Champions Istanbul 2022, both teams once again faced off in the group stage with OpTic finding a win early on. LOUD still made it through the lower bracket and was able to qualify for playoffs. Once again, both teams clashed in the semifinals, where this time around, LOUD pulled off a convincing 2-0 victory, cinching their spot at yet another grand final.

On top of the world: LOUD win VCT Champions 2022.
On top of the world: LOUD win VCT Champions 2022.

In the finals, when they were once again up against OpTic and it mattered most, LOUD pulled it off. They managed to dominate the server and win the best-of-five 3-1 to take the trophy and win Brazil their first major in VALORANT.

What's changed for the North Americans?

With NRG being chosen for partnership and picking up the ex-OpTic core, they carry the legacy of the players with them. Pujan "FNS" Mehta, the IGL at OpTic continues to be at the helm at NRG. Victor "Victor" Wong and Austin "Crashies" Roberts are also part of the new NRG team.

Three outta five remain, but will they be enough? (Image Credit: Riot Games)
Three outta five remain, but will they be enough? (Image Credit: Riot Games)

It's not just a question of having a new organization. One of the deadliest weapons in the old OpTic's arsenal was 'El Diablo' aka Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker. He was constantly lighting up the kill feed, and even in the grand finals at VCT Champions, despite LOUD taking the trophy, yay had the highest ACS (217) and most first kills (14) on the server.

Another player from OpTic who is not part of the new NRG roster is Jimmy "Marved" Nguyen. Marved was a key reason for OpTic's continued success with an insane number of clutches, and some of the highest stats on the server - all on the controller role.

NRG however hasn't been slouching. They've signed Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks of FPX fame to fill up the vacancy left by yay. Ardiis played a bit of a more flexible role than yay -- the latter played Chamber almost exclusively throughout last year while ardiis played not just Chamber, but also agents like KAYO and Jett. On NRG in LOCK//IN so far, he maintains that flexibility, having played Jett, Sage, and Killjoy.

ardiis has some big shoes to fill but he's more than ready for it.
ardiis has some big shoes to fill but he's more than ready for it.

The final piece of the puzzle for NRG was s0m. Known colloquially as the 'W streamer,' fans were skeptical about his ability to take Marved's spot on the team. However, in NRG's first game against KOI, he was the MVP on map one and made the comeback from 3-9 to 13-11 possible.

NRG has three players from the OpTic that clashed so often against LOUD, and with their new additions, looks like they're ready to handle whatever will be thrown at them.

LOUD is right at home

LOUD has also faced some changes heading into the 2023 VCT season. They've lost two of their most experienced players to another partnered organization heading into the year. Gustavo "Sacy" Rossi and Bryan "Pancada" Luna both announced they were joining Sentinels. At the VCT Champions grand finals, Sacy was one of the most impactful players on the team. Filling in that crucial initiator role, he was able to find immense value in agents like Fade and Sova and he ended up with a net positive kill differential of 19 and an 80% KAST, the highest on the server. He also won several crucial clutches throughout the tournament to keep LOUD on top.

How will LOUD measure up without Sacy or pANcada?
How will LOUD measure up without Sacy or pANcada?

pANcada was an absolute beast as well. Filling in that crucial controller role for the team, pANcada was able to find some of the best timings and gaps in the opponent's default or defense and netted consistent multi-frags for the team. Like Sacy, he was a master of winning clutches.

Instead of Sacy and pANcada, LOUD has signed some young talent. 17-year-old Cauan 'cauanzin' Pereira is the first. He was on Ninjas In Pyjamas' roster for the 2022 VCT season and while they failed to win a major, cauanzin still stood out as one of the roster's strongest players. On LOUD, he's filling up the initiator role and in LOUD's opening match against Gen.G, he was the MVP for the team with a massive 251 ACS.

cauanzin might only be 17 but he's still a demon on the server.
cauanzin might only be 17 but he's still a demon on the server.

The second player who is filling in the controller role is Arthur "tuyz" Andrade. He's much more of an unknown quantity. He was the duelist for TBK Esports, a team that did not find much success in Brazil but was only one game away from qualifying for Champions through the LCQ.

LOUD has also revamped its coaching staff with Daniel "fRoD" Montaner being signed as the new head coach and Jordan "stkJ" Nunes as an assistant. fROD has coached T1 in the past and was a part of the coaching staff during Champions 2022. As for stkJ, he was coaching MiBR during the past year.

One more thing LOUD has in their favor is the crowd. The Brazilian audience at São Paulo has been extremely vocal in supporting their home teams so far.


Only one can stay at LOCK//IN

Now, with a spot at the LOCK//IN playoffs on the line, both NRG and LOUD have a lot to prove.

The IGL at Loud, Matias "Saadhak" Delipetro, said to,

"For us, this an experience. We are here to prove ourselves, to learn, and see what we can do. I can't say much about them because I don't know them, to be honest. For us, we're here to learn how to be a team in the long term."

As for NRG, their head coach, Chet "Chet" Singh said he's going to see what they do, and try to make a game plan around it.

I'm not going to treat it any differently just because its LOUD."

Despite the roster changes, it is still six of the ten players who clashed at Champions crossing swords again. And unlike prior VCT events, there is no lower bracket, no second chances.