OpTic cements their legacy as VALORANT’s most consistent team by reaching Grand Finals a record-breaking three times after winning over DRX.
LOUD and OpTic are on a crash course with destiny. For the record-breaking sixth time in 2022, OpTic will face one of the greatest esports teams in Brazil’s history with a World Championship on the line. With the season series at 3-2 in favor of OpTic, Sunday’s Grand Final will essentially be the decider cementing one of these teams in VALORANT history
End of the road for DRX
First let’s lament the loss of South Korea’s star-studded DRX. The team that endured a season of big disappointments, but won over the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. Those sixth place finishes at Reykjavik and Copenhagen culminated into an impressive third place run at Champions. It was the best showing from DRX dating back to the Vision Strikers days in 2021.
The map five win for OpTic not only cemented their legacy as the only team to reach three Grand Finals in history, but DRX as one of the strongest, most consistent teams in pre-franchising Valorant. The ongoing story of Valorant can’t be told without mentioning DRX.
We’ve worked together since the launch of Valorant so we all know what our motivations are. What are aspirations are, why we’re doing this. I am sure, without a doubt, that our team is proud of what they’ve achieved at this tournament. Although, we could’ve done better, third is something to be very proud of and everyone in the office is proud of the team as well. I’m looking forward to 2023.”DRX Pyeon “termi” Seon-ho
DRX nearly pull off reverse sweep against OpTic
Focusing on the Lower Finals, OpTic got off to a uncharacteristically fast start, winning the first two maps in less than two hours. OpTic winning Bind was no surprise, as their most played and picked map. However, blowing up DRX on Breeze, 13-5, was a surprise. OpTic entered the series with a middling .500 record on Breeze. But, when Jacob “yay” Whittaker is getting a multi-kill round 38% of the time, it makes life easier.
Between yay and Austin “crashies” Roberts, the two ended with a ADR hovering around 170. On Breeze defense, Optic won 88% of the opening duels and were +39 in kills in that half. It was utter destruction from a legendary team, but the story became less about Optic, but DRX’s improved mentality after losses.
Bad map losses like the one DRX suffered on Breeze used to curtail their mental game. In fact, last time these two teams played in the Copenhagen playoffs, DRX took the OpTic map pick, before getting manhandled on Breeze, 13-4. That loss snowballed into the Lower Bracket FPX match and DRX couldn’t recover in time.
“I just think we had a solid plan of what DRX would do today,” said OpTic Chet post-game. “They played a lot of Breeze this tournament, so we had a lot of footage to review. And also, we were hitting our shots more than we used to in our Breeze games, which made it obviously easier. We tried some new setups, specifically made for that team so I don’t know if we’ll do those again, but it ended up working out a lot and our anti payed off pretty well for that game.”
The improved mental game
A similar instance happened at Reykjavik and that’s where the “curse” was born. In Istanbul, with Yu “BuZz” Byung-chul playing more Jett and less Chamber, Kim “stax” Gu-taek taking over IGL duties, and Goo “Rb” Sang-Min playing less frag intensive agents, all the pieces came together.
Beating Copenhagen champions FPX, twice, with them not taking one map is beyond impressive. The mistakes and misplays that would ruin them before were now making them stronger. And, despite falling short against Optic on map five, this team has a lot to be proud of and brought respect to the Korean region.
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OpTic reached second Grand Final in 2022
As for OpTic’s performance in the Lower Finals, it was more of the same. The consistency from OpTic is unparalleled in a game that is constantly changing. In theory, no team should be equipped to keep up with the meta shifts. In practice, Pujan “FNS” Mehta as the teams in-game leader and head coach Chet Singh are always a step ahead. Today we saw a masterclass of a game plan that allowed them to fend off a DRX roster with supreme player quality.
When OpTic needed it most, on map three Haven, FNS pulled out every trick in the proverbial book. With Victor “Victor” Wong on flank and decoy duty with his Phoenix, FNS continually pulled DRX off bomb-sites with fakes to get free plants and setups. Furthermore, the executes were often clean, leaving room for efficient trades and constantly putting DRX at a disadvantage. OpTic ended the map with an 81% KAST.
“I think if we didn’t have the experience from the beginning of the year all the way through, as far as losing map one in every series, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did today. It’s really, really hard when you have so much momentum and you’re 2-0 up and all of a sudden the other team starts hitting back and it’s 2-2 because then they’re the ones with momentum. So, I think it just shows how resiliant we are and that’s definitely the word I’d use to describe us, for sure. I’ve been saying it since the beginning of the year, every time we’ve done this. It’s always come back stories for us and today was no different”
OpTic yay the best player in the world
After what FNS described as one of his worst called games against LOUD in the Upper Finals, his hard-read style worked against DRX. It also helps to have a literal demon that can seek out fights and win the majority of them.
Of course, that would be El Diablo, otherwise known as yay. In terms of greatest performances at a single Masters event, yay’s play at Champions is the pinnacle of consistency. He leads in all damage categories across the board with no players really coming close to matching his output.
In the win over DRX, he was a man possessed. He not only won individual duels against all five members of DRX, but dropped 91 kills in 102 rounds. Add on his 21 first bloods and 67% FBSR and that’s a performance for the ages when Optic needed it most. The only time DRX could mitigate his impact was by avoiding him on Ascent and Fracture.
The final showdown: LOUD and OpTic for a World title
To close it out, Optic reaching yet another finals to face off against LOUD is almost poetic. The two teams are so close in skill, having some of the better coaching staffs, and two of the best IGLs. It’s everything to love about VALORANT condensed down into one epic Grand Finals.
With Optic and DRX peaking at over 1 million viewers, according to EsportsCharts, the finals are sure to break records. One of these teams will be crowned a world champion, joining last year’s champions Acend, and writing their names in the history books.
Featured image courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games.