Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Can Anyone Dethrone G2 In The LVL VALORANT CLASH 2

 


By Arran "Halo" Brown

The final European Ignition Series tournament is just a few days away when LVLGlobal host the LVL VALORANT CLASH 2. Sixteen teams will battle it out in a best of one group stage, where eight teams will emerge and fact off in a best of three, single-elimination tournament to be the last team standing and reign over the region as we head into the next face of VALORANT's esports cycle. G2 have so far shown dominance over the region that has squashed any form of rebellion Europe's best teams have mustered, winning all four Ignition Series events they have entered. The list is impressive to look at with the Vitality European Open, the WePlay Invitational, the Mandatory.GG Cup and finally the Allied Esports Odyssey titles all ending with G2 losing just one game in a grand final. While G2 has put together an impressive winning streak, Europe is stacked with talent that has been improving after each tournament and some of these teams are going to be wanting revenge and to show they are the challenger that G2 couldn't handle. 

Here, we will take a look at a few of the teams who would be considered the best challengers to break the run G2 have had and we will also take a look at a dark horse who may be coming into the event more underrated than they should be. 

FunPlus Phoenix

FunPlus Phoenix made a grand and somewhat surprising entrance into the European region by combining Meddo, Shadow & Zyppan from Swedish team Fabriken and Ange1 and Shao from the CIS's PartyParrots, to combined a super team that many analysts expect to be the biggest threat to G2. Combining two-star players who are deemed the best in their positions in entry fragger Zyppan and Oper Shao, FunPlus Phoenix made a statement by first running through the first Allied Esport Odyessy qualifying tournament under the name of ZyppanGoKill and then becoming the first team to beat G2 in a best of two or more series in the group stage of the same event. While the sad and unfortunate situation that Davidp found himself in towards the end of the series is going to have some knock-on effect of FunPlus Phoenix's win. Considering they were a team at the time who had only been formed a few weeks prior punished G2 for their mistakes and deserved to win. While G2 got their revenge in the upper bracket final and ultimately the grand finals. FunPlus showed just what they are capable of throughout this event. 

While Zyppan and Shao continued their path to stardom during the Allied Esport Odyessy tournament, this is a roster that can pick up the slack if one of those two fails to show up for a map. The player to watch for FunPlus Phoenix is the team's Cypher Meddo, as he may just be the most underrated player in the entire scene right now. According to vlr.gg, Meddo is averaging 0/75 Kills per Round, an Average Combat Score of 206.7 and an Average Econ Rating of 56.5, which ranks him third out of all Cypher mains in over 500 professional rounds played. FunPlus Phoenix should be the main challengers after their first encounter as a team two weeks ago and I expect they will come out flying in a decently strengthen Group D.


Team Liquid

After dominating the scene under the name of Fish123 and then losing their main Oper in Ardiis to G2, Team Liquid went through a process of finding themselves again once again when they picked up star fragger ScreaM. It involved a major positional change among the team to accommodate the ScreaM and find a new main Oper, with Ec1s and L1nk picking up the role between the two. It took a little bit of time to figure out, which was clear to see after an early and disappointing exit in the Mandatory.GG Cup to TBD where they looked uncomfortable on Ascent. A two-week break in between then and the Allied Esport Odyessy seemed to be exactly what the team needed as they came out of the best of two group stage top and undefeated with a 3-2-0 record. The playoffs were a slightly different beast, however, as the format changed to double-elimination a best of one, seemed to affect the team detrimentally. Team Liquid managed to beat Ninjas In Pjyama's in the first round they then dropped games to both G2 in the upper bracket and then FunPlus Phoenix in the lower bracket to finish third. 

ScreaM may be the star player on this roster and is currently battling FunPlus Phoenix's Zyppan for the title Europes best player, the player that really helps secure a Team Liquid win is Sage/Sova secondary Oper L1nk. According to vlr.gg he has a Kill to Death rating of 0.77, an Average Combat Score of 219.9 and an Econ rating of 58.1. When L1nk is L1nked In, Team Liquid a more dangerous threat and a serious contender once more. With a second-place during the WePlayInvitational alongside their latest third, Team Liquid is looking to end the Ignition Series the same way they entered it as Fish123, victorious and on top once more. 


Ninja's In Pyjamas

The first stage of professional VALORANT has been interesting for Ninjas In Pyjamas, after their original roster, who happened to be the reigning two-time Paladins World Champions, failed to perform to the level that was expected. Ninjas In Pyjamas came back with a stronger roster after they initially signed Rhyme and Luckerr, they signed former Hyphyphyp trio Crea, Fearoth and Hyp to complete their roster. They have shown themselves to be a top team within the European region as they have three top-four finishes in the last three ignition tournaments, but they haven't managed to find the next gear to make the finals.

While the likes of G2, FunPlus Phoenix and Team Liquid have managed to find their feet and make final appearances, Ninjas In Pyjamas seem to heavily rely on their star player in Oper Luckerr. When he is on form he has the ability to carry the team kicking and screaming, especially when he is able to get the first blood in NiP's favour. When he is cold the team really have to try and come together better and seem to struggle more than is expected of them. Hyp is the player on this roster that I would like to step up more, after playing 45% of his recorded games on Reyna, Hyp showed a lot of promise when he changed over to Phoenix during the Allied Esport Odyessy playoffs and showed that he is able to perform on meta agents. If he can continue to do this and provide a secondary fragger for Ninjas In Pyjamas then I would expect them to improve on their current finishes and contend the top three rated teams so far.  

Bonk

Bonk is a team who have improved a lot from the start of the Ignition Series till now. Having placed in the top eight places of the Vitality European Open they failed to qualify for the WePlayInvitational. They bounced back with a very impressive performance in the Mandatory.GG Cup where they finished second to G2, gaining an incredible amount of experience in the process. Yet despite this, they were inexplicitly overlooked for a direct invite for the Allied Esport Odyessy event which went to Giants Gaming and then failed to make it through the qualifying rounds when they were beaten by Project SW and BBL Esports. 

Bonk has gone through a small change since that second place with their former coach Salah making way for former Fabriken coach eMIL and it will be interesting to see just how their playstyle will change as each one of their rosters has the potential to be star players in this scene and they may just have the roster with the highest potential ceiling in the region. With so much talent it is hard to pick out one player but Yacine has shown that he is one of the best fraggers in the scene with a Kill to Death ratio of 0.88, being top three in first blood with an average of 0.19 and being in the top five with an Average Combat Score of 267.2, Yacine has proven himself to be one of the standout players in the region. Whether it is the high IQ plays of Bonkar on Sova, the fragging combination of Yacine and Sayf or the underrated ability of xajdish. Bonk should not be underestimated during this event and if they make it to the final again, they will come into with more experience and intent to win it all. 


Angry Titans

After exploding onto the scene under the name of Project SW in the first qualifying round of the Allied Esport Odyessy, where they pushed FunPlus Phoenix to the absolute limit in a 1-2 loss. They were eliminated in the quarterfinal when they lost to SUMNFC but have shown that they can definitely hang with the best teams in the region. Although they have not been officially announced by Angry Titans, they are playing their first event under that banner and despite the team coming from a mixture of different esports, with backgrounds in CSGO, Overwatch and PUBG. They have found an instant understanding of their playstyle that has caused problems from the get-go. 

Like most of the regions top teams, Angry Titans have an entry fragger/Oper combination that causes teams headaches. The team's two former Overwatch players in Oper Khegasi, is averaging 0.89 Kills per Round, a first blood percentage of 0.14 and an Econ rating per 1000 credits of 64.7, while Entry Fragger Hqrdest is averaging 0.81 Kills per Round, an Average Combat Score of 244.8 and a first blood percentage of 0.15. Making the duo one of the more consistent pairings in the region and one to watch out for from Group D. Having made the LVL VALORANT CLASH 2 by winning the LogitechG Contenders Cup with relative ease, Angry Titans are the dark horses for this event and they will want to show that their match against one of the tournament favourites in FunPlus Phoenix. 

With the level of competition at some of the highest it has been all year and it being the first tournament in Europe where Killjoy is available to play, the LVL VALORANT CLASH 2 starts on Friday 28th August should end the European Ignition Series with a bang and we will see if any one of these teams can stop G2 making it a clean sweep of the series. 

(You can find more professional Valorant content by following @haloofthoughts)

(Images credit: LVLGLOBAL)
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