It was an EU vs NA showdown in the Quarterfinals as Team Liquid faced off against Cloud9 on Day 8 at Valorant Champions.
It is playoff time at Valorant Champions and we are already being treated to treat as Team Liquid take on Cloud9 in an NA vs EU grudge match in the Quarter-Finals. Team Liquid made it into the knockout phase of the tournament with relative ease as they defeated Kru and Sentinels in group play. They are currently sitting as one of the clear favorites to go all the way here at Champions. They are going to have to be in tip-top shape today as they are going up against the loud and proud boys from Cloud9.
The NA team is coming into this match off the back of their tension-packed victory over Vision Strikers. They have faced a lot of challenges thus far in the tournament. But Cloud9 has continued to weather the storm thus far; with many seeing Cloud9 as a bit of a dark horse in this tournament. Though they managed to beat Vision Strikers, they were far from pretty. They looked rather shaky on their offensive rounds which have caused them no shortage of problems, and is a weakness that Liquid may attempt to exploit.
Nevertheless, this matchup had the potential to go the full distance. And this was by far the most anticipated match out of all of the other quarter-final matches. The question then was would it live up to the hype?
Map 1: Liquid Put Cloud9 In A Bind Despite Leaf’s Brilliance.
There were a lot of questions being asked as the teams were loading into Bind. This had been Liquid’s worst map at the tournament thus far. Yet they had somehow allowed it to slip in through the map vetoes. Whereas Cloud9 had been hit or miss on it for the most part.
Cloud9 got the ball rolling by winning the first pistol round and then the second round shortly afterward. Liquid then managed to win the next four rounds in a row to get things going on offense. But after some insane moments from Leaf and Vanity, Cloud9 was able to tie things up at 6-6 going into halftime. With Leaf going into the half with an insane 18 – 8 K/D.
As the sides swapped over, the question regarding Cloud9’s effectiveness on offense loomed over them. And their offensive woes continued as Liquid won the first three rounds to start the second half. But just like in the first half, Cloud9 did not shrink from adversity, stringing together four more round wins to lead the series 10 – 9. It appeared as though things might be looking up for Cloud9, especially with Leaf decimating everything in front of him. But after a brief timeout, Team Liquid kicked it into high gear. Hammering out the remaining rounds to claim victory in Bind 13 – 10. Putting Cloud9 in a very precarious position.
Map 2: Ascent
After coming up short on their map pick, Cloud9 had it all to do going into Ascent for map 2. They had already shown themselves capable of dominating this map, especially in the Vision Strikers match. And though Leaf was lighting up the stage in Berlin, the rest of team were going to need to step it up if they wanted to stay in this match.
Cloud9 got off to a great start as they won the opening two rounds. Team Liquid responded in kind with two of their own, but from then on Cloud9 seemed to be in control of the game. Stringing together three rounds in a row to lead the map 5 – 2. Liquid did manage to scrape together a few more rounds of their own but were ultimately unable to get past their NA opposition, with Cloud9 taking a 7 – 5 lead into halftime. But could they finally perform on offense?
The answer seemed to be a resounding a no at the start of the second half, as Liquid won the first three rounds to give themselves a narrow lead. Cloud9 were able to interrupt the flow of Liquid with their first offensive round win on the map. But from then on the European giants were in complete control of Ascent as they raced forth with four round wins in a row to put themselves at Match Point with a 12 – 8 lead.
But Cloud9 refused to bow down to their opponents and kept on fighting. This mix of desperation and aggression enabled them to win three rounds back to back, with Xeta getting an impressive quadruple kill to cut Liquid’s lead to one round. Now all of a sudden the pressure seemed to be on Liquid, with Cloud9 just one round away from forcing the map into overtime. Unfortunately for Cloud9, their opponents did not buckle under the pressure and, after a very cagey round, finally took Ascent 13 – 11. Winning the series 2 – 0, and eliminating NA’s last hope at Valorant Champions.
This was always going to be a tough match for Cloud9. Though they had managed to make it out of group play they had made things more difficult for themselves than necessary. They were team brimming with talent but seemed to rely on individual moments to get them through rounds.
They could have, and probably should have, won Bind. After all, this was supposed to be Team Liquid’s weakest map going in. Yet as the game went on Liquid seemed to grow in confidence, and Cloud9 was just lost.
That is not to say that Liquid were faultless in any way, because there were some issues. But when the going go tough, Team Liquid’s roster came together and grinded out a win.
With this win Team Liquid are moving on to the Semi-Finals where they will be taking on Acend. And though this it is time to bid farewell to Cloud9 at Valorant Champions, we do so with a heavy heart. They were a joy to watch throughout Champions and have shown us that they have the potential to be a dominant force in NA Valorant.