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Fnatic Claims Second VALORANT Title of the Year at VCT Masters Tokyo

Zakaria Almughrabi

VALORANT’s second international tournament of 2023, VCT Masters Tokyo, has crowned its champion. Fnatic once again stands at the top of the world after sweeping Evil Geniuses in the grand finals 3-0. This win marks the second consecutive world title for the EMEA titans after winning VCT LOCK//IN in March.

Fnatic VCT Masters Tokyo

Image Credit Riot Games | Colin Young-Wolff

A Sweeping Start

Fnatic’s run at VCT Masters Tokyo started in the Playoffs. The defending international champions lost their EMEA crown at the end of the regional playoffs to Team Liquid, so they had a lot to prove from the very beginning. Fnatic blasted out of the gates in their opener against NRG, quickly besting them on Fracture 13-9 and Bind 13-4.

Next up was Paper Rex, the best team from the Pacific region. They were missing a key player in Ilya “something” Petrov who could not get a visa in time. Even so, PRX was no pushover, as shown by their eventual third place finish at Tokyo. Fnatic made quick work of them regardless. A 13-5 win on Lotus followed by a 13-7 on Bind pushed Fnatic through to the winners’ bracket finals, winning 52 of 77 rounds played.

Up against Evil Geniuses

With a grand finals berth and a guaranteed top two finish on the line, Fnatic met Evil Geniuses in the winners’ finals. Both teams had a permaban and a perma-first pick: Pearl and Lotus for Fnatic respectively, and Bind and Fracture for EG. Since the winners’ side team earned a two-map ban advantage in the grand finals, winning this match would give a massive boost to their chances to win it all.

Starting off on Fnatic’s Lotus, the game wasn’t even close. EG only got three rounds on the board before Fnatic tidied it up. With Fnatic dominating so hard early, everyone watching wondered if Fnatic was really that infallible. That was until EG’s Fracture.

The North American side drew first blood from Fnatic at VCT Masters Tokyo. Utilizing a Sova composition, EG had bested LOCK//IN runner-up LOUD and Team Liquid on Fracture in their previous matches. Fnatic would meet the same fate, dropping the map 13-9. Notably, it was EG’s in-game leader Kelden “Boostio” Pupello doing the fragging; he ended the map 21-13 with a 1.37 rating.

Tied at one map apiece, this match would come down to Split. The teams were inseparable at the half, each scoring six rounds. Leo “Leo” Jannesson was the driving force for Fnatic throughout the map. His final score was an absurd 26-11 with 326 average combat score.

Fnatic pulled their way up to a 10-7 lead in the second half after winning the pistol. EG just would not go down though, as the NA hopefuls fought back on the defense. It all came down to round 24. Fnatic, now on match point, had one last chance to close out the game or risk EG gaining a huge momentum boost into overtime. In the end, Fnatic took the tournament defining round with only Leo left standing.

A Rematch for the Title

Over in the lower bracket, EG managed to edge PRX out in a five-map series to earn their rematch with Fnatic. Everyone knew that this rematch would be much harder for EG than their initial meeting due to the earned map bans. Sure enough, Fnatic banned Pearl and EG’s Fracture, then got both their Lotus and Bind.

Lotus did go a lot better for EG this time around. It still wasn’t enough to best Fnatic on their favorite map, but the signs of improvement were notable. Also notable was Leo and Emir “Alfajer” Ali Beder racking up 22 and 23 kills respectively over 21 rounds, securing map one 13-8 for Fnatic.

Split was up next, as EG thought this map gave them the best shot at tying the series. While their attack side didn’t go as well as it did in the previous series, EG made up for it with a strong five-round spree to start their defense. The teams traded the middling rounds, eventually getting up to an 11-11 tie. In the penultimate round, it was Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev who burst onto the B site to earn four kills and bring Fnatic up to 12. EG couldn’t win the light buy in round 24 and once again fell tragically short.

Bind would be the final destination for VCT Masters Tokyo, and Fnatic’s hardest fought win overall. EG put on an offensive masterclass, winning eight rounds while losing the pistol. Interestingly, it was Max “Demon1” Mazanov on Chamber topping the scoreboard with 15 kills on attack. After winning the second pistol round, EG looked primed to upset Fnatic on their map pick.

Of course, Fnatic was not one to be outdone. They also managed to win eight of the last 10 rounds, including five in a row to make it to overtime. The duo of Derke and Alfajer absolutely fragged out, earning a combined 53 kills. In the end, Fnatic calmly closed out both OT rounds to claim the VCT Masters Tokyo trophy.

There is no team more deserving of being VALORANT’s first ever back-to-back world champions than this Fnatic roster. They are indisputably the best team in the world and are clear favorites going into VALORANT Champions 2023 in August. Commiserations go out to Evil Geniuses, who were a long shot to even make it to Masters, let alone come second in the whole event. The only team to make Fnatic drop a map has a bright future ahead of them as well.