In the first match of VALORANT Champions 2022 Group B on Thursday, LOUD swept ZETA DIVISION 2-0 with back-to-back map improvements in the second half. After a quick departure in VALORANT Masters 2 in Copenhagen earlier this year, LOUD look primed to return to the playoffs at Champions 2022.
.@LOUDgg makes some noise in their first series win at #VALORANTChampions İstanbul! pic.twitter.com/Jg5MKH27V4
— VALORANT Champions Tour 🇹🇷 (@ValorantEsports) September 1, 2022
LOUD turn things around on Map 1
ZETA DIVISION got out to an early lead on Ascent to start the series and hit halftime up 7-5. Shota “SugarZ3ro” Watanabe on Astra led ZETA in all statistics heading into the second half. But LOUD’s defense proved to be too much for ZETA, and the Brazilian squad only lost one round on defense to win the map 13-8. Felipe “Less” Basso on Killjoy was the catalyst for LOUD, with a great first half and an even better second half.
With ZETA on the ropes heading into Fracture, they swapped the composition up to go Neon and Raze along with a Chamber. Yet again, the team looked strong, with LOUD needing a good run at the end to keep it close at the half.
After a 7-5 half, LOUD quickly tied the map and looked to repeat their comeback on Ascent. Shots just landed for LOUD and didn’t for ZETA, despite the Japanese team performing better than on Map 1.
“Personally, in terms of macro, I think it was working well,” SugarZ3ro said. “However, our micro mistakes are what led to the loss.”
It ended 13-9, as ZETA only won two rounds in the second half on Fracture; another second-half crumble led to LOUD winning the series 2-0.
ZETA DIVISON can only afford to win
ZETA DIVISION showed that spark that led them to third place at 2022’s Stage 1 Masters, but some recent retake woes and adjusting to a member rejoining their roster after a break appear to have taken a toll.
“Retaking sites is our biggest challenge to overcome,” ZETA’s Koji “Laz” Ushida said. “With Tenta “TENNN” Asai rejoining the roster so recently, that’s been a challenge for us. Hopefully, we can practice more and do better in that second match in groups.
In the end, ZETA DIVISION’s early performances in 2022 have put more pressure on their shoulders to perform well. SugarZ3ro knows this but also knows how he can shrug it off on stage.
“There is a lot of pressure on us, every time we fight we do so against pressure,” SugarZ3ro said. “But I don’t have any nerves on stage, so I think I’ll be fine.”