Team Liquid have become the first team from the Europe, Middle East, and African region to secure playoffs at Champions Istanbul 2022. Liquid beat Masters Copenhagen grand finalists Paper Rex 2-1, ending the team’s run at Champions.
Liquid join Leviatán as the two teams from Group A to secure playoffs. EDward Gaming and Paper Rex finished fourth and third in the group, respectively.
In their first match of the playoffs, Liquid will face off against OpTic Gaming.
“I can’t wait to face OpTic, honestly,” Liquid’s Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom said in a press conference after the match against Paper Rex. “It’s going to be a good matchup.”
Even though OpTic is one of the best teams of 2022 and a strong contender to win the event, ScreaM said he’s happy to go against them in their opening playoff match.
“I prefer to play NA than APAC to be honest,” ScreaM said. “It fits us better. They’re gonna do things that we know, like not weird stuff that you cannot expect.”
Liquid defeat Paper Rex, lock in playoffs
Team Liquid found themselves in a decisive elimination match after losing to Leviatán in the opening round. From there, they eliminated EDG and then went up against Paper Rex.
In the first game versus Paper Rex, Liquid barely won their map pick of Haven in overtime. From there, the series went to Pearl. Paper Rex quickly cemented their status as one of the top teams on VALORANT’s newest map with a decisive 13-4 win.
“Teams that didn’t go through [Last Chance Qualifiers] obviously had more time on the map,” Liquid’s coach Emil “eMIL” Sandgren said. “We just need some experience on it and it’ll be good for us. I don’t think the score reflected our ability to play on the map.”
The series ended on Ascent, where Liquid’s defense was stifling in the first half of play.
“They just had a really good game plan in terms of how to defend with their new agents,” Paper Rex’s Benedict “Benkai” Tan said. “It made it pretty difficult for us to go into the choke points.”
Added Paper Rex’s head coach Alexandre “alecks” Sallé: “We basically took too long to figure out how to deal with their A re-take. Normally we’re quicker on that. But this time it was quite nuanced.”
Although Paper Rex rallied in the second half, Liquid were able to end the match with a 13-8 win.