Fnatic open up Masters Copenhagen with win over FPX - Upcomer
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There’s few teams that define the VALORANT Champions Tour as much as Fnatic. The team from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region are perennial international LAN visitors and Masters Copenhagen is no different. They opened up their Masters run with a decisive win against FunPlus Phoenix. Although FPX are still playing with a substitute, Fnatic have gotten the better of them in all their previous meetings as well.

“FPX are a team that is really interesting to play because every time you face them, they show up with new stuff.” Fnatic’s Enzo “Enzo” Mestari said in a post-game press conference. “We like to play against them.”

“FPX and us are two of the best teams in the world,” head coach Jacob “mini” Harris said.

The playoffs best of three started with a highly competitive brawl on Icebox. Fnatic mounted a strong comeback and carried that momentum onto Haven. Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev went absolutely nuclear and the sweep quickly became a foregone conclusion.

Derke 2022
Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev of Fnatic poses backstage at the VALORANT Champions Tour: Stage 2 Masters Playoffs Stage on July 14, 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. | Photo by Lance Skundrich. Provided by Riot Games.

“They’ve had all the time to prepare,” FPX’s Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks said. “Obviously, it’s shit to lose, don’t get me wrong, but it’s expected, no? All the cards are against us. I don’t want to give excuses to why we lose because we did play like shit.”

FPX played the match with substitute Mathias “SEIDER” Seider. It was the Dane’s final match before Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin reclaims his position on the roster after securing his visa and travelling to Copenhagen.

“SEIDER is such an easy person to work with,” FPX’s coach Erik “d00mbr0s” Sandgren said. “Definitely his value in the scene should go up.”

With SUYGETSU returning, FPX will have a strong chance at beating Guild Esports in the lower bracket. It will be a rematch from EMEA Challengers when FPX beat Guild to secure grandfinals.

“We need to remind ourselves how we play with [SUYGETSU] because we’ve been switching a lot this last week to adapt to what we have,” Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov said.

Fnatic cruise past FPX to face Paper Rex

Fnatic are EMEA’s first seed; they’re also a favorite to win Masters Copenhagen. The match against FPX was a good confidence booster for Fnatic and some of their young stars, particularly Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder. Fnatic’s in-game leader, Jake “Boaster” Howlett, gave Alfajer a short pep talk after the 17-year-old Turk struggled to find impact on Map 1.

“I was like, ‘We know how good you are, bro. You don’t need to be flustered here. Just go and do your thing,'” Boaster said. “I’m super proud of him for his first performance.”

Boaster 2022
Jake “Boaster” Howlett of Fnatic competes at the VALORANT Champions Tour: Stage 2 Masters Playoffs Stage on July 14, 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

Now Fnatic are looking ahead at the rest of the competition. There are certain matchups that the team has been anticipating for some time, like Korean powerhouse DRX.

“Their play style is very structured. That’s something we look up to a little bit,” James “Mistic” Orfila said of DRX. “Before I used to say that we’re just the better DRX. I think they’re just the worse Fnatic now.”

More immediately, Fnatic have the Asia Pacific first seed Paper Rex standing in their way. The upper bracket clash between the two teams is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. ET on July 17.

“We’ve seen them online doing their thing in the APAC region and they definitely have some firepower,” Boaster said. “But we’ve got some firepower too. It’s going to be a banger of a match.”

Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.