Champions Semifinals – Liquid collapse to Acend, Gambit edge out KRÜ
With the semifinals finished, our journey here at VALORANT Champions is almost at an end. The tournament has delivered brilliantly so far. Some teams have shown true grit and determination while others have buckled under the pressure. Yesterday, four teams fought for a spot in the Grand Final and now only two remain. Acend completely dominated their match against fellow EMEA representatives Team Liquid. Then, on the other side of the bracket, we bore witness to possibly the greatest best of three (BO3) so far in the tournament. Underdog LATAM team KRÜ Esports took on Gambit, the winners of Masters Berlin, and fought them to a stand still before ultimately falling to the CIS organization.
Read on to get a closer look on how things played out and don’t worry if you missed out on any of the action because we’ve got you covered with recaps for every day of the VALORANT Champions tournament.
And so without further ado, let’s just jump into it!
This series ended up being the most one-sided match of the day with Acend just absolutely destroying Team Liquid on both maps. Despite the map pool favoring Acend, it’s surprising to see how much of a stomp this match was. Liquid utterly collapsed. For Acend, however, this victory means a spot in the Grand Final, so congrats to them for showcasing their prowess and making it all the way to the final stage.
The first pistol round of the Semifinals ended up going Acend’s way along with the round after. From there, Liquid managed to answer back with three rounds in a row. Unfortunately, those three rounds and one more would be all they would get in the first half of the map. Acend took the rest by storm. Currently, the team remains undefeated on Bind so far throughout VALORANT Champions.
Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt has continued to impress, but the man of the hour for Acend was definitely his fellow Polish teammate Patryk “starxo” Kopczyński. His Skye was ludicrous throughout the entire map.
For Team Liquid, they simply couldn’t find an answer to Acend in the first or second half. The team simply got outplayed and outmatched in almost every way possible. And this was just the beginning…
Things did not turn out any better for Team Liquid on Split. Acend’s defense was completely impenetrable. Throughout the entire first half of the map, Liquid only managed to get a single round win off the back of some heroics by Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom. He managed to score himself an ace at the the same time.
Liquid did a bit better in the second half of the map, but it was simply too late. The lead was already so massive for Acend and the team needed only two more rounds in order to win the map and the series. Again, Starxo showed up with a vengeance. He topped the charts on Bind with Skye and this time he top fragged on Sage. The man was on a mission to destroy his opponents and he definitely succeeded.
From the third map alone, this VALORANT series delivered more than anyone has ever expected. Then again, the same could be said for the LATAM team that had made it this far into the tournament. Nobody expected them to be this good, nobody expected them to eliminate both finalists of Masters 2: Reykjavik, and nobody expected them to push Gambit Esports to their absolute limit. Yet they did. Now they’ll be going home, but they can go home with their heads held high.
For Gambit on the other hand, this series ended up being one of the biggest endurance tests they’ve had to face so far. Is it any wonder that the team that has almost always managed to come back from the brink held their nerve? Now they’ll have a chance to cement themselves as true Champions in the Grand Final, but Acend is right there waiting in the wings.
Breeze is a map that KRÜ rarely ever played, yet they found significant success in the first half. The LATAM team managed to score 8 rounds with Gambit only managing to take four. As always, Angelo “keznit” Mori showed up huge in the server. His impact throughout the tournament has been stellar. You can always count on him to deliver something special.
Of course, his teammate Juan Pablo “NagZ” Lopez Miranda was right up there with him as well performance-wise.
However, things turned around completely in the second half as Gambit proceeded to show exactly why they’re so feared on their defensive half. After a close pistol round that saw Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov trading 4ks with keznit before winning out on the 1v1, the Russians completely locked the Latin Americans out of the map. Chronicle continued to lead the charge for his team in kills and topped the scoreboard overall. KRÜ was unable to convert a single round in their attacking half and Gambit mounted one of their signature comebacks with style, ending the map in their favor.
With their tournament life on the line, KRÜ had one more chance to stay alive and force a decider. Again, the Latin Americans started strong. This time on their attacking half, the team blitzed through Gambit’s defenses time and time again. The Russians didn’t completely falter, however. The first half ended up being more of a back and forth with both teams exchanging rounds.
One map stood above the rest, however. If the last map was the Chronicle show then this map was Roberto Francisco “Mazino” Rivas Bugueño’s. On Sova, he delivered in spades with a clutch and a couple of multi-kills going his way. You could really feel his impact throughout the map, not just with kills but also with his utility usage. In the second half, Gambit completely faltered and got a taste of their own medicine. Only two rounds went their way and KRÜ took the rest, ending the map in their favor and forcing both teams into a game 3 decider.
Map 3. Bind. It all came down to this map and boy did it deliver. Not only did it go to overtime, it went to quintuple overtime. Both teams gave it their all, but in the end, it was the Latin Americans that fell short after such a valiant attempt at fighting one of the tournament favorites. Gambit was shoved to the absolute brink, but again they just clawed their way back tooth and nail to get the edge over their opponents. With this map and series win, the Russians punched their ticket to the Grand Final of VALORANT Champions.
It all started with KRÜ once again taking the first pistol. The Latin Americans fought hard on their defensive half and took another strong lead. It’s been a pattern for them to start off strong while their opponents would often come into their own later into the game. The trio of keznit, Nicolas “Klaus” Ferrari, and Joaquín Ignacio “delz1k” Espinoza Soto were an absolute force to be reckoned with. Very little could get past them. Even the lurks from Masters 3 Berlin MVP Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin proved to be ineffective. The Latin Americans were playing well and they played with no fear.
By the end of the half, Gambit were down with only four rounds to their name. The loss of the second pistol and anti-eco round after ensured a very comfortable 6-round lead for KRÜ who were well on their way to winning the map, the series, and making it to the Grand Finals.
But what’s a Gambit series without an impossible come back?
Chronicle, nAts, and Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov came alive in the second half of the map. It was the trio that Gambit needed to answer back to KRÜ. Again and again, Gambit held the line against the Latin American offensive. Chronicle in particular has been the player of the tournament for Gambit and he definitely proved it with what could possibly be the best play in Champions. 3v5 and he stood practically alone against the tide. When Gambit needed him the most, he delivered.
Gambit forced overtime and what happened next was a slog of desperation, determination, and grit. Play after play, hold after hold. Both teams battled back and forth. Until finally, when the dust settled, Gambit Esports emerged victorious. KRÜ gave it their all, but in the end they simply weren’t able to close the series out. Still, it was such a commendable effort by the Latin American team.
There’s no doubt in our mind that this map will go down in VALORANT history as one of the best of all time.
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