VCT Korea Stage 3: Playoffs Recap Day 1, VS and TNL pave way to victory
The first day of playoffs was a very one-sided affair. With a single elimination bracket for playoffs, every series matters. Each team only has one life to make it to the Grand Finals and secure a spot in Berlin. Unfortunately for World Game Star and GoNGo Prince, they will be heading home after a rather disappointing showing. Vision Strikers and TNL, on the other hand, will be heading off to face each other in the semifinals.
Let’s take an in-depth look at what happened:
First off, we need some context here. Vision Strikers don’t like Bind. They very rarely play the map and the last time they did was against NUTURN where they lost pretty convincingly. This is the first time we’ve seen them play it in this tournament. On the other hand, GoNGo Prince have had a solid showing in the map so far in the tournament with a 75% win rate before this series started. So the fact that Vision Strikers chose to pick this map was a shocking surprise.
The bigger surprise was that they looked absolutely dominant on it.
Kim “Lakia” Jong-min was brought in to play for Vision Strikers and he looked great on the map, but the whole team was firing on all cylinders. Their site hits were extremely well executed with Kim “stax” Gu-taek setting up his team to wreak havoc with potent Breach flashes. It felt like GoNGo Prince were caught off-guard and they simply couldn’t find their footing. Not before long, the score was 10:0 in Vision Strikers’ favor. In the 11th round, GNG were finally able to hold the A site with an opening pick, courtesy of Kim “Halbae” Jun-young. From there, the defending team traded efficiently to a round win using their man-advantage. Another round clinch for GNG saw the first half of the game go to a 10:2 score line.
The second half was a quick affair. After losing the pistol, GNG managed to win the eco round and force buy before finally conceding the last two rounds and the map to Vision Strikers. The final score ended up being 13:4 in favor of Vison Strikers.
Prior to this series, Breeze was also one of Vision Strikers’ permabanned maps. Yet despite this, they again showed complete domination from start to finish. At this point, we have to ask ourselves: Is there actually a map that the team struggles with? So far the answer has been no as the team has yet to drop a single map in the entire tournament.
Lee “k1Ng” Seung-won was subbed in this time around. However, it was stax and Kim “MaKo” Myeong-gwan that stood tall. They used Skye and Viper respectively to devastating effect. GoNGo just couldn’t match Vision Strikers’ firepower and strats. The defending team came alive much sooner at least, nailing a win in the 5th round of the series. It was Ha “kobra” Su-hyun this time who managed an opening pick with his newly bought Operator. The 6th round saw another GNG win with Kim “CoSa” Jin-hyeong disrupting Vision Striker’s post plant set up by killing two players who had utility instead of guns out in A Lobby. By the end of the half, GNG were only able to score one more round win and Vision Strikers closed with a 9:3 score line.
The second half saw a bit of a repeat of the first with Vision Strikers winning out on the pistol and then losing the forcebuy. However, that was all GNG would get as they would lose the rest of rounds and exit the tournament. The final score ended up being 13:4 in favor of Vision Strikers yet again.
When we posted our playoffs preview, we predicted that this would be a close series. At least, a lot closer than the previous one. However, that expectation was thrown right out the window by the end of the first map. TNL Esports came to play and WGS looked absolutely lost on a map that they have played extremely well on before.
Thanadol “newgen” Kitautcharanukul was subbed in for the series in place of Lim “Has1ra14” Hyuk. It was, unfortunately, not a good showing for him nor the rest of the team. Any form of aggression that they attempted was halted in its tracks by Park “exy” Geun-cheol who found many opening kills and high impact frags throughout the map. Yeom “eKo” Wang-ryong found a lot of success as well, using his Sova utility to ease executes and create space for any attack towards the sites as well as fragging out.
There’s not much to say, considering how big of a stomp this was. WGS got read like a book. Their first round win came from a successful hold on the B site with Kim “HANN” Dong-ho scoring a successful 2k as TNL flooded into the site. Their second round win came from a heroic effort by Ko “Sylvan” Young-sub to defend the A-site with a sheriff. Other than that, it was pretty much a wash as TNL took over the map.
The end score line was 13:2 in TNL’s favor.
The second map started out in a similar manner to the first. TNL just looked completely unstoppable in their attacking half. Again, every time WGS tried to shake up their defense by making aggressive plays they were simply gunned down. Lee “Hate” Ye-hun’s patience and lurks really paid off. For TNL as a whole, they played slow and waited for WGS to give them an opening. For a map like Haven, where there are many choke points to cover, the strategy was especially effective. WGS were just punished time and time again every time they tried to fish for information.
For all intents and purposes, the series looked over by the end of the half. TNL made their best Vision Strikers impression and managed a 10:2 score line.
Then the second half happened and WGS showed that they still had some fight in them.
HANN in particular came alive with some extremely important entry frags that gave crucial round wins to the beleaguered WGS. HIs aggressive desperation culminated in one of the best moments we’ve seen so far in the tournament:
An Ace Clutch that kept his team alive at the cusp of defeat.
Unfortunately, even HANN’s resurgence wouldn’t be enough to pull WGS out of the brink. TNL’s lead was just too massive and they were able to close the series two rounds later.
In the end, TNL ended the map with a 13:7 score line, sending WGS home and securing a semifinals spot for themselves.
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