FunPlus Phoenix secured a playoff spot on Wednesday for VALORANT Masters Copenhagen. That’s a worrying sign for their competition because finally, after one and a half Masters events, FPX will bring their full roster to bear.
FPX’s Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin has secured his visa in time to join his team for playoffs. He is still in the midst of traveling to Copenhagen, so he might not be slotted in for the FPX’s first match against Fnatic, but it looks likely that he’ll be playing soon.
“I think SUYGETSU deserves to play as much as possible as well on the stage,” FPX’s coach Erik “d00mbr0s” Sandgren said Wednesday. “We’re just working hard on getting him here, and we hope he can be here on time.”
Up to now, Mathias “SEIDER” Seider has been filling in for SUYGETSU. The 21-year-old Dane has done an admirable job given the limited amount of prep time.
“I’ve learned so much every single day, both in the game but also out of the game,” SEIDER said. “Basically I’m just soaking up all the information I can get. If they get to play with their fifth for the next game, which I think they deserve, then I’m going to be very happy to watch.”
But SEIDER is not SUYGETSU. He doesn’t know FPX’s playbook, and he hasn’t played with the team for months. SUYGETSU is one of FPX’s top statistical performers alongside Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks. He typically plays sentinels for the team, including Cypher, who has fallen out of favor with most VCT teams.
“Individually, we’re the best team, especially with SUYGETSU in,” ardiis said. “Obviously we need a favorable draw and a lot of things to go our way, but I think we have the skill and the capacity to win the event.”
With SUYGETSU back in the lineup, there’s no telling what this FPX roster is capable of achieving in Copenhagen.
FPX in Masters Copenhagen playoffs
In post-game press conferences, FPX have stressed repeatedly how little time they’ve had to prepare and clean up their game since arriving in Copenhagen. If they can get SUYGETSU situated in time for their match against Fnatic, we may just see the full strength of the team that secured the Europe, Middle East and Africa second seed during Challengers.
“They played with four of their players and one sub, but they still did great,” Northeption’s Byung-yeon “JoXJo” Cho said Wednesday after his team’s to FPX. “If they just keep doing what they’re doing with their full roster, they’re going to make the top three.”
Still, FPX have a tough road ahead of them. The team is less than enthusiastic about its first match being Fnatic, who FPX have played multiple times in recent weeks. They feel the fans deserve something new. Fnatic, the EMEA first seed, have also gotten the better of FPX in each of their meetings.
“We’ve been playing Fnatic basically weekly,” Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov said. “It is what it is. We’ll see how it’s going to change on LAN.”
With North America’s OpTic Gaming looking vulnerable after taking an early loss to Guild Esports, the top three of Masters Copenhagen might be more open than originally thought. But FPX aren’t in Copenhagen with the mentality that anything short of a grand finals appearance is a total loss.
“I would be happy with top four, but as ardiis told you, we are capable of winning it all,” ANGE1 said. “We’re just here to get experience. A lot of players didn’t experience big LANs before. Every match we play is a present for us.”
FPX vs. Northeption
The deciding match of Group B between FPX and Northeption wasn’t a blowout, but it also wasn’t a three-map bloodbath. FPX looked like the better team, taking Northeption’s pick of Fracture and then closing it out on Ascent.
“It’s the individual aim,” Northeption’s Tomoki “xnfri” Mariya said. “Although we had somewhat of an advantage in the macro environment, we lost a lot of the rounds.”
Northeption put forward a solid overall performance at Masters Copenhagen. Unfortunately, they’re still in the shadow of regional rivals ZETA DIVISION, who just locked in their spot at Champions. The VCT community in Japan threw their support behind ZETA during their miraculous run at 2022 Stage 2 Masters Reykjavík. The fact that Northeption couldn’t repeat that success is as expected as it is disappointing.
“As a player, trying always to meet the expectations of the fans is really difficult,” xnfri said. “But at the same time there was a lot of support that was also unexpected. And that had a positive impact on our play.”
The Japanese team was gracious in defeat. They maintained the positive attitude that had propelled them to their win over XERXIA on Tuesday.
“The experience we had during this Masters event has really upped our confidence level,” xynfri said. “And I think we have a really good shot at winning LCQ and going to Champions.”