Fight for first Playoffs EU: Favourites have to deliver

posted by SmittyW.,
Eight teams compete in this week's Play-In phase. Who is going to join OG, Wave and more in the Playoffs? After the smoke has lifted on Wednesday, we are left with eight teams who emerged victorious from the Challengers Qualifier Week 02. In the Play-In phase, the teams have to give their all once more to make it into the first Playoffs of this Stage, where they meet the likes of OG, Wave Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas and FunPlus Phoenix.

Only the top 4 of the Playoffs will advance to the first Regional Masters and take a huge step in the race for VALORANT Champions in December. Now without further ado, let's take a look at the upcoming Play-In matchups on Thursday and Friday.

Alliance and G2 Esports take on tough opponent

After narrowly missing the Playoffs last week, Alliance are back for more. In the round-of-16, they had to play none other than Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom’s Team Liquid. While Alliance had to admit defeat on map one, they staged an incredible comeback, defeating the co-favourites 13-1 and 13-9.

In today’s Play-In series against DfuseTeam, they are regarded as favourites, but one mustn’t underestimate the dark horses in Challengers: many a team has stumbled across supposed underdogs and fallen, just like Team Heretics in Week 01. DfuseTeam is an up-and-coming squad hailing from France and achieved notable results in smaller cups. Their being in the round-of-8 is no coincidence and we can expect an exciting Play-In opener on Thursday.

After conceding a 2-1 defeat against Ninjas in Pyjamas in Week 01’s Play-In, G2 Esports are looking to get into the Playoffs this time. They are matched with Animel, a team from Finland which staged their VCT debut this week. On their way to the Play-In phase, they 2-1’ed Giants Gaming, but certainly G2 is an entirely different beast.

Top match: Fnatic vs Guild Esports

Both Fnatic and Guild Esports are probably names many people would have expected to make the Playoffs. Alas, only one of them can continue their run and play the best Europeans this weekend. In Week 01, both of them failed in the round-of-8 and need to redeem themselves in the Play-In. After all, they are considered European top teams and not attending the Playoffs is out of the question.

It's hard to tell which team is heading into Friday in the better shape, but if the scoreboards are any indication, the Swedes seem to be on quite a run currently, concluding the Qualifier without dropping a single map. On the other hand, the Fnatic line-up are the First Strike runners-up and deserve much credit for that as well.

First Strike champions enter Play-In

The biggest upset of Week 01 was certainly Team Heretics dropping out of the tournament so early. This time around, the winners of First Strike went through the Qualifier almost effortlessly – despite making do without captain Christian "lowel" Garcia. The former CS:GO pro is suffering from an infection in his right index finger. He was replaced by the German Dustyn "niesoW" Durnas who also mains on Sage.

Team Heretics will face Chakalaka, a Polish line-up, which debuted in Week 02. Considering their performance in the Qualifiers of Week 02, the international team is highly favoured.

In the Playoffs, the winners will meet the four victors of Week 01: OG, Wave Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas and FunPlus Phoenix. As the winners directly qualify for the Regional Masters, things are going to be intense this weekend. Also, we are in for some highly anticipated matchups, like a potential face-off between G2 and NiP.

I can’t watch the games live. Is there a way to catch the action?

For those who are busy during the match-days, simply check out our VODs on YouTube and Twitch. Every game and livestream will be saved on its respective channel and you can watch any series whenever you want to.

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Photo credit: Riot Games