LOUD beat DRX, Fnatic defeat NAVI to get to VCT 2023 LOCK//IN final
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At the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023 LOCK//IN Brazil tournament, LOUD defeated DRX 3-2 and Fnatic swept NAVI 3-0 to set our grand finals. The two undefeated teams will face off to see which region is on top, the Americas or EMEA.

LOUD just manage to hold off a DRX comeback

In the first semi-final of the tournament, we had what seemed like an even matchup. LOUD, despite their roster changes, clearly are favourites to win and be the first team to win back-to-back international tournaments. DRX, while also clearly improving from previous years, had yet to win a series 2-0 in their run to the top four, dropping maps to BBL Esports, Cloud9 and Talon Esports.

When the first five-map series of the tournament began, LOUD started strong in what seemed to be an easy sweep. Erick “aspas” Santos in particular looked nigh unstoppable against the Korean VALORANT superteam.

DRX walks off stage at the VCT 2023: LOCK//IN Semifinals on March 2, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. | Photo by Lance Skundrich for Riot Games.

But then, much like their last top-four appearance, DRX started to pull the series back. They rattled off two needed map wins to bring the series to map five, which seemed close as could be. But, after giving up a crucial round where Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan killed three enemies and put the spike in a tough spot, LOUD finished the job.

Another rough fake-comeback loss for DRX, but against the former Champions and guaranteed finalists at the VCT 2023 LOCK//IN tournament.

The battle of EMEA is one-sided, Fnatic back in the finals

In the other semi-final, we had a battle between the two best teams in Europe, the Middle East and Africa: Fnatic versus NAVI. The first map of Haven was close as could be, with NAVI’s Andrey “Shao” Kiprsky coming up clutch like he has all tournament-long. Just as NAVI had the chance to force overtime, Fnatic clutched out a B site post-plant to win the first map. That momentum led to a strong showing on Lotus, getting 10-2 at the half and winning it 13-4. Despite the strong showing on the map, Fnatic didn’t expect NAVI to go on the newest map on VALORANT.

“I was a bit surprised they chose it,” Jake “Boaster” Howlett said. “ANGE1 did say to me at the bar a couple of days ago: ‘Boaster, don’t try to play us on Lotus, you can’t go A or C’.  They picked it first; we were expecting them to pick Ascent. When they picked went Lotus, on our attack side, we were just reading it fairly well and we just had big rounds.”

When it came to NAVI, they had their opportunities to win at least one map but couldn’t manage it, getting swept. Even after the loss, the team knew why they lost and understood what they needed to improve on.

“I’m not disappointed,” Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov said, “we tested a lot of stuff and now we know what we need to work on. Honestly, I would’ve been scared if we won the tournament because we wouldn’t have understood what we need to work on as much as we do now. Fnatic were just better today, hopefully only today.”

LOUD versus Fnatic: Who will win the first VCT 2023 title

The first international tournament of VCT 2023, LOCK//IN, is down to just two teams: LOUD and Fnatic. Their first match against each other organizationally, is a big opportunity for both teams.

LOUD have the potential to be the first back-to-back champions in VCT history, after winning Champions in 2022. This would be even more of an accomplishment after they lost two key members to their roster in the off-season. As for Fnatic, they have yet to lose a map in the tournament so far. If they were to go on a tear and sweep the current champs, they would have an undefeated run with no maps lost. The only other team that has done that in VALORANT history was the team Fnatic lost to in their last finals appearance, back in 2021 against Sentinels.

Out of all the people looking forward to the finals, Fnatic’s Boaster is ready and confident.

“You can expect a very loud crowd for LOUD,” Boaster said. “Though, you should see the same Fnatic that you’ve seen each day so far, with the improvements we’ve made throughout. We’re confident and we’re ready.”

It’s hard to pick a winner from both teams, as they both made waves in their journeys to the finals. But, if you had to choose, LOUD are still the favorites and for good reason. They’ve arguably gone through the tougher path to get to the finals and have had an extra day to watch Fnatic and study their play. On top of all of that, they have the crowd on their side. For a close game, that might be enough to edge out a great Fnatic team.

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.