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Gen.G Wins Pacific’s First VALORANT Title at VCT Masters Shanghai

Zakaria Almughrabi

Gen.G has claimed the VCT Masters Shanghai trophy after a 3-2 victory over Team Heretics in the Grand Finals. This win marks the Asia Pacific region’s first-ever international VALORANT LAN title. Of all the fantastic Pacific squads that have graced VALORANT esports over the past four years, Gen.G is easily the most complete and deserving team to achieve this feat.

Gen.G VCT Masters Shanghai

Image Credit Riot Games | David Lee

Gen.G came onto the scene big at the start of 2024. They pulled off a massive upset in the Pacific Kickoff finals to steal away the title from Paper Rex. PRX had been known as Pacific’s best team for years and was most likely to win an international title first. Yet, Gen.G was playing up to their caliber after assembling the squad only months prior.

Gen.G looked like they had it all—sound strategies, calm and creative mid-rounds, and the pure clutch factor necessary to win close games. With great minds and mechanics, Gen.G went into VCT Madrid with high hopes. They showed their prowess and made the Grand Finals in their first LAN but fell victim to the one thing they didn’t have: experience. Despite their two-map ban advantage, Gen.G ran out of steam and lost to Sentinels in five.

Fast forward through Stage 1 and Gen.G had claimed Pacific’s second seed at the next VALORANT LAN, VCT Shanghai. Gen.G quickly ran through the Group Stage, snagging 2-1 wins over Leviatán and FunPlus Phoenix. Though they had a couple of close calls, Gen.G clearly brought that same level of play they showed at the start of the season. Now, they just needed to find what they were missing.

The Playoffs Begin

The Gen.G road at VCT Shanghai would be difficult, especially when their first opponent was Fnatic. Europe’s top dogs were back on top after missing the last LAN and were ready to prove that they could still win trophies.

The match went chaotically. Both teams played every map like it could be their last. Fnatic stole away Gen.G’s Lotus pick 13-10, and then Gen.G kept the match alive by stealing Bind with the same score. The series came down to a tiebreaker on Breeze. Fnatic came out swinging, taking the first half 7-5 from Attack. After winning the pistol and the anti-eco, the game leaned heavily in their favor.

Gen.G expertly clawed back rounds, but Fnatic didn’t cede their lead easily. Soon, the score read 11-11. Gen.G attacked the B Site for the final two rounds and found multiple entries both times. Well-timed utility into proper post-plants helped them easily close out the map 13-11 and advance.

While Fnatic turned into a big test for Gen.G, their Upper Bracket Semifinals and Finals matches were not. They faced a gauntlet of North America’s best in 100 Thieves and G2 Esports. Gen.G didn’t drop a map nor let either opponent get more than ten rounds.

These matches showcased the versatility of this roster. In the 100T game, Controller player Kim “Karon” Won-tae top fragged and combat scored while Duelist Kim “t3xture” Na-ra was at the bottom. In the G2 match, they switched spots with t3xture, clocking a >300 ACS.

Sentinel player Kim “Meteor” Tae-o had tons of impact in both games, and Initiator Kim “Lakia” Jong-min was always on point with his utility.

Following these convincing victories, Gen.G was right back where they were at Madrid, the Grand Finals.

Favorites Again

After the dust settled on the Lower Bracket, Gen.G lined up on the stage against Team Heretics for the VCT Shanghai title. TH was EMEA’s second seed and a big surprise at this tournament, mainly due to them missing a starter for the duration. Dominykas “MiniBoo” Lukaševičius had to stay home for his school exams, so Heretics re-signed their previously cut substitute Patryk “PaTiTek” Fabrowski for a last dance.

After getting knocked to Losers in the second round, TH completely turned things around and didn’t drop a single map. Their 2-0 victories over FUT Esports, 100 Thieves, and G2 Esports set them up with their first VCT Masters Grand Finals. Both squads here were as hungry as could be.

Unlike Heretics, Gen.G had been here before. They had a two-map ban advantage in Madrid, and they had one now as well. The pressure was on to perform, especially against a team that was here against all odds.

Map one of Breeze was always going to be Gen. G-sided. TH hadn’t played it a single time in Shanghai and couldn’t ban it. The first half was dominated by Gen.G, giving them an overwhelming 10-2 lead. Heretics had no real footing to play from and bled out the last three rounds slowly but surely. A quick 13-6 put Gen.G up a map.

Falling Apart

Icebox was TH’s go-to map (or at least their third go-to). They needed to take this one to keep a realistic chance of winning the Finals. The score was close mid-way through the first half, but then super sub PaTiTek showed up big. He earned 3K after 3K to take rounds by force. Without PaTiTek’s performance, the score would look much worse for TH than just a 5-7 deficit.

Gen.G won the second pistol as well. After shutting down TH’s early attempts at flipping the economy, things looked to be getting out of hand. That was when Heretics pulled out a 3v5 Thrifty retake courtesy of a 4K from Enes “ReiNs” Ecirli.

From there, Heretics didn’t drop a single round as they strutted their way to a 13-9 win. The map score was now tied at one apiece.

No matter for Gen.G, that was a map they could afford to lose, even if they did have a shot at winning. Next up was what should be their second-best map overall, Ascent. Gen.G got off to a flying start for the third straight map. A 4-0 lead on the Attack side threatened to overwhelm Heretics like on Breeze.

However, things were different this time. TH had the confidence and composure that they established from Icebox. In round five, PaTiTek took on the entirety of Gen.G in A Main, shutting them down with a 4K.

Heretics rode that momentum to a 6-6 half, a massive comeback from 0-4 down. And the momentum didn’t stop there. They won their first pistol round of the series on Attack and kept stacking rounds. Gen.G looked lost as they kept getting outplayed in swing rounds. Before they knew it, it was another 13-9 in favor of Heretics. The plucky EMEA upstarts with s substitute were now a map from the title, and Gen.G was a map from choking away a second straight VALORANT title.

What They Learned

When Sentinels brought back Split to tie the series at 2-2 and put Gen.G against the wall at Madrid, the young Pacific team looked deflated. All of their energy and confidence was gone on that fateful map five of Icebox. They were defeated before the match was even over, the worst feeling a team can ever go through. They weren’t going to go through that again here in Shanghai.

The last two maps were Lotus and Split. In a best-of-five, getting to the later maps in the pool means that the teams are less prepared and expectations are less known. Preference and preconceptions now hardly matter; all that matters is who shows up when the cards are down.

Heretics started a map with a 3-0 lead for the first time in the series. Gen.G didn’t care. The moment Gen.G had weapons, they played with the same confidence they came into the day with. Meteor kicked things off by jumping straight into the Heretics attack to break their economy.

Round after round piled up for Gen.G, leaving memories of Ascent behind. Heretics started the half with three rounds, and they ended it with three rounds as well. Gen. G’s defense was a brick wall. When sides swapped, it was only a formality. Gen.G took four of the last five rounds to claim a dominant 13-4 equalizer.

Gen.G’s Day, Pacific’s Day Has Come

Everything was on the line on Split. Back-to-back Finals for Gen.G turned into back-to-back championship game fives. This time, it was their turn to take the glory. Gen.G increased their pistol win rate in the match to 7 of 9 thanks to a Meteor 3K to kick things off.

Gen.G continued to swing into every fight. They played like they owned this stage. Heretics had no response and could only mount three rounds on defense. Just like on Lotus, Gen.G had it in the bag. Four quick rounds was all it took for Gen.G to claim Split and win the series 3-2.

We have long known that an Asia Pacific team could lift an international VALORANT trophy. Teams like DRX and Paper Rex paved the way, playing to high highs on the world stage but never quite getting over the finish line. Both teams fell prey to their weaknesses when it mattered the most.

Gen.G combines the best aspects of Pacific VALORANT. They have the patience and strategies of DRX and the chaos and clutch factor of Paper Rex. While it may be an oversimplification, Gen.G is simply the first Pacific team with everything needed to be world champions.

Now, they’ve come in second at Madrid and first at Shanghai. All that’s left is VALORANT Champions in August. We lauded Fnatic last year for winning two LANs, even though they came in fourth at Champs. Gen.G has a chance to immediately surpass the best year in VALORANT history with one of their own. Right now, it’s indisputable; the best team in VALORANT is Gen.G.