After two weeks of top-tier competitive Valorant, VCT Masters in Reykjavík has come to an end. Twelve of the best teams in the world gathered in Iceland's capital to compete for the title of the first Masters tournament in 2022. Almost a year after Sentinels won the first VCT Masters ever on this same stage, the trophy is heading back to North America in the arms of OpTic Gaming.
Former champions falling short
Compared to last year, plenty of new faces showed up in Reykjavík for their shot at winning an international LAN. Team Sentinels, the 2021 winners, didn't even manage to qualify for the tournament. The same goes for last year's Berlin Masters champions Gambit (now competing as M3C), as well as Valorant Champions 2021 winners Ascend, who failed to qualify via EMEA Challengers.
Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions in Ukraine and Russia, EMEA's first seed FunPlusPhoenix was unable to field a roster, so fourth seed Team Liquid traveled to Iceland instead.
However, Riot Games still awarded FPX 200 circuit points for Valorant Champions 2022.
This situation opened up the opportunity for many teams with very little or no international experience at all to compete for the title. It also meant a new international champion would be crowned in Iceland.
The top-seeded teams from EMEA(G2 Esports), NA(The Guard), APAC(Paper Rex), and Brazil(LOUD) have directly qualified for playoffs. With only four playoff spots remaining, the eight unseeded teams got split into two groups.
Finally, the teams that advanced to the double-elimination bracket were Korea's DRX, Japan's ZETA Division, Europe's Team Liquid, and eventual champions NA's OpTic Gaming.
OpTic's path to the throne
The first on the menu was the rematch of the North American Challenger final versus The Guard. Although The Guard had the upper hand back then and secured the first seed in NA, OpTic prevailed this time around. In a close best-of-three series, they snatched a 2-1 victory sending The Guard to the lower bracket.
Next up was the clash with the Korean champions DRX. It was another very tight series, but OpTic secured a spot in the upper bracket final versus LOUD.
After a disappointing 2021, a Brazilian team finally managed to get to the VCT Masters final. On the back of an amazing Viper performance by a 17-year-old Felipe "Less" Basso on Icebox, LOUD took down OpTic and advanced to the Grand Final.
Japanese sensation ZETA Division was waiting for them in the Lower Bracket Final; however, they were no match for the NA powerhouse, as OpTic secured their rematch versus LOUD in the Grand Final with a clean 3-0 sweep.
The Grand Final
Hungry for revenge, OpTic Gaming looked much better than in their first meeting. LOUD had no answer to Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker's Jett, and after a 10-2 first half, OpTic closed out Ascent 13-9 to take the lead.
The second map of the series was Bind, and it was much closer than Ascent. OpTic took the 8-4 lead at halftime; however, LOUD got rolling early on defense, quickly tying the score 8-8. After some crazy rounds and clutch plays on both sides, OpTic secured a championship point with a 14-12 overtime victory.
OpTic completed the 3-0 sweep on Breeze, but it was not an easy task, as Brazilians fought fiercely once again. North Americans managed to keep LOUD at bay for some time; however, Brazilians forced another overtime with some great attacking executes in the second half. After double OT, OpTic finally closed out the map and secured the title.
VCT Stage 2
Will Europe bounce back, or can NA win back-to-back masters? Was the rise of Japan and Brazil just an accident, or are they serious contenders going forward?
VCT Masters - Reykjavík raised many questions. Nevertheless, it was just the beginning of the international Valorant competition in 2022. The teams are now heading back home to their regions as Stage 2 Masters qualifiers begin on May 13th.