Valorant Champions 2021 concluded with the EMEA squad ascending above everyone else.
After almost two weeks of brawling between the best Valorant teams of the world, Acend rose above all; becoming the first Valorant World Champion! Congratulations to Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi, Mehmet Yagiz “cNed” Ipek, Vladyslav “Kiles” Shvets, Patryk ”starxo” Kopczynsky and Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt!
Acend was the second strongest team in Europe throughout the season. Only being bested by Gambit Esports at the Valorant Champions 2021 Qualifiers. Despite their strong showings, they only made EMEA Playoffs once this year. And they exited Masters Berlin in the first round of playoffs. So, while they are certainly strong, they weren't a team one would call clear favorites.
Despite that, they finished Group A in first place; beating Keyd Stars 2-1 and Team Envy 2-0, easily qualifying for playoffs. In the second half of Champions, they faced Team Secret and Team Liquid; both of which teams they beat 2-0, even managing to stop their opponents from reaching double digits on the scoreboard. In the finals, they had to beat EMEA titans Gambit Esports, who won the Berlin Major back in September and had a similarly dominant showing in their previous Playoff and Group Stage matches.
Starting strong from Map One
On the first map, Acend started strong with winning the pistol and the bonus rounds, and going on a seven-round winstreak after losing round three. They finished the first half of the match with a 6-point lead, switching do defense confidently. But after the swap, Gambit’s Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetsin stepped up, stopping all of Acend’s offenses with his excellent Viper plays. From this momentum Gambit could come back, ultimately winning the first match 13-11.
After Breeze, it was time for Ascent, where the soon-to-be Champions didn’t let up. Even though they lost the pistol round, they got the 6 following points with great performances from the team’s captain, BONECOLD. Gambit could close the gap a bit though, going into Attack with only a 2-point deficit. This time around Acend didn’t let the miracle happen, winning 6 out of the second half’s 8 rounds, closing out the match 13-7, and tieing the series.
Map Three took us to Fracture, and it could be described in two words: Russian domination. Gambit Esports wanted their lead back and they took it from Acend by force. They won 11 of the first 12 rounds, going flawless on one occasion and not letting Acend take anything. This frustrated them to quite a bit, zeek even killed himself with his Raze ultimate accidentally. After the switch there was not much room for Acend to work with. Even though they doubled the number of their won rounds, Gambit closed out the third map with a 13-3 scoreline.
It looked grim for BONECOLD and co., but they were not ready to give up just yet. On Icebox, they won the pistol and the bonus rounds, then lost the third, but bounced back by getting two more points. The teams went back and forth in the first half of the icy map, and ended up switching with another 2-point lead for Acend. The second half was very similar; only Gambit had the upper hand now, winning the pistol and bonus rounds, and getting to 10 points by the end of the 18th round. Acend was relentless though, and they managed to catch up. After tieing on Icebox, the teams couldn’t decide the winner, so the series had to go into overtime. After a stellar push and a very effective defense in both overtime rounds, Acend tied the series again. It was time for the decider map.
Split became the final battleground of the 2021 Valorant season. Here Acend took the early lead again, and by round 7, they were up 6 points. Gambit was not ready to lose the trophy though, they switched sides, and the last first half of the series ended with a 7-5 scoreline. Acend won the pistol and bonus rounds after the switch as well. But then Gambit gained momentum, winning the next three rounds which meant they were only one point behind. But BONECOLD and his teammates felt like it was time to end it all, and by going on a 4-round winstreak they became the first ever Valorant Champions.
With the end of the 2021 Valorant Champions, it’s time to take a break from the excitement of Valorant esports. The VCT returns at the beginning of next year with a lot of changes, stay tuned for more details!