FNATIC survived the dreaded double choke, as they secured a crucial victory over Cloud9 on Day 1 of the Valorant Champions.
All eyes were on FNATIC and Cloud9 as they closed out the opening day of the Valorant Champions. Vanity and Boaster had traded light hearted banter in the pre game press conference and there is always extra spice in a fixture between NA and EU teams. Group D had been opened by an impressive victory by Vision Strikers.
Cloud9 were considered the pre match favourites, having come through the LCQ. This gave them serious momentum and confidence. However, FNATIC had been quietly working out of the public eye, spending a month in Bootcamp to prepare for LAN. This match was set up to be an interesting clash, is match play and wins on the board more effective than detailed preparation?
FNATIC make strong start on Icebox
FNATIC recovered from a strong Cloud9 start to take the opening round on Icebox. Cloud9's extra match sharpness seemed to aid them in making a fast start, winning the opening two rounds 5-1 and 5-0 respectively.
FNATIC rallied, and by half time had opened up a strong 7-5 lead, winning four matches consecutively before the break.
Not to be outdone, Cloud9 recovered by winning the next 4 games. But Fnatic, drawing on their bootcamp training closed out a round win, taking 5 of the next 7 games.
Cloud9 comeback on Split
Cloud9, who close split knowing it was a map that FNATIC are not comfortable on, leveled the series with an impressive comeback.
Magnum helps inspire strong start
FNATIC made a strong start, with an especially notable solo play from Magnum helping them open an early lead.
Cloud9 were left wondering if they had made a tactical error in their choice of map, with FNATIC looking more than comfortable.
FNATIC eventually opened up an 11-6 lead, which many would consider unassailable. However, a combination of nerves from FNATIC and backs to the wall plays from Cloud9 saw a drastic turnaround. Cloud9 won 7 games in a row, to secure the round 11-13.
FNATIC avoid a double choke
FNATIC fans were left fearing a double choke, as final map Fracture went to the wire.
Fracture, the latest Valorant map, might prove the most effective for FNATIC in this tournament.
With teams hesitant to choose the new map, the time spent in bootcamp could prove a key factor for FNATIC. They have had significantly better opportunities to learn the new map and refine their strategy ahead of Champions.
Despite a wobble, this proved true as they secured an overtime victory to take the fixture 2-1. In true FNATIC style, they took the hard route to victory, letting a 10-4 lead slip all the way back to 12-12. How much of this slip was due to Cloud9 becoming more confident on Fracture as the round went on, or how much of it was nerves from FNATIC, is up for debate.
However, Boaster and co avoided the dreaded double choke to set up a match against Vision Strikers. Cloud9 will hope to bounce back in the lower bracket, they are still expected to be a strong contender and we could see a rematch between these two teams down the line.