Fnatic qualify for 2022 VCT Masters 1 after a 44-round Split vs M3C
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Fnatic are the first team from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region to qualify for 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour Masters 1 in Reykjavík, Iceland after a win versus M3C, formerly known as Gambit. They took down the 2021 VCT Masters 3 champions in an incredibly close 2-1 series, going 44 rounds on Split for a 23-21 win.

Fnatic versus M3C was always set to be an emotionally charged series since Fnatic took down Gambit the last time the two met on the road to qualify for 2021 VCT Masters 2. And once again, this time after a one hour and 42 minute map 3, with M3C milliseconds away from taking the win instead, Fnatic eventually drew the winning straw.

Fnatic nearly gave series to M3C

After Fracture and Bind, the score was tied 1-1. The two teams were closely matched, and it was up to Split to settle the score. It first looked like Fnatic would run away with the win, but they went into the second half with the dreaded 9-3 score.

Despite Fnatic winning the next pistol round and being in prime position to close out the series, it was M3C who won Fnatic’s bonus round. This shift ultimately snowballed out of control and into a 12-12 score. Fans thought it was nearly over, but the overtime went on for 20 more rounds. Fnatic kept it close in overtime, chasing M3C at first before throwing away their leads several times.

At one point, M3C were microseconds away from taking the win. In a 1v1 on attack, it was up to Fnatic’s Andrey “BraveAF” Gorchakov to kill or delay Nikita “d3ffo” Sudakov. He died in the attempt, but while it looked like d3ffo had just enough time to defuse the spike and punch M3C’s ticket to Reykjavík, it was not to be. The spike exploded despite the seemingly complete defuse, which came just too late to end the series.

D3ffo needed just milliseconds more to defuse the spike vs Fnatic in VCT
D3ffo dies to the spike while the defuse looks to be complete | Provided by Riot Games

After 12 more rounds, it was Fnatic who finally closed it out to qualify for Masters 1: Reykjavík. Fnatic in-game leader Jake “Boaster” Howlett was ecstatic in the post-match interview.

“I’m at least 54 now,” Boaster said. “At 19-19, honestly, I was like, you know what? I’m OK with losing, but we just kept going.”

Having qualified for Iceland, Fnatic will return to familiar ground. They finished second place at 2021 VCT Masters 2 to Sentinels, who failed to qualify for the event this time around.

Michael Kloos is a Dutch esports journalist and enthusiast with a particular like of Rocket League and VALORANT. He is also an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader and writer. He spends most of his time trying not to be in the real world.