Are Karmine Corp trolling? The biggest takeaways from week 1 of EMEA VCT 2023

There's a lot to look at.

The 2023 EMEA VCT season kicked off with its super week, putting all 10 teams through two matches across five days to kickstart the first season of the partnered league.

After week one, a few surprises have grabbed the attention of the fans: Gekko got a decent amount of screentime in compositions across five different maps, and despite belief from fans and media that EMEA was very top-heavy, there appears to be a good amount of competitive balance.

Going forward, the EMEA VCT season schedule will revert to its five-game schedule per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. But before we get to week two, let’s look at the stories that stood out the most from week one.

Biggest takeaways from the first week of the EMEA VCT 2023 season

Fnatic are still on top but not invincible

Photo by: Hara Amorós / Riot Games / LVP / lag.

The reigning champions from VCT LOCK//IN finished the first week of EMEA in the top spot, but just like we saw against LOUD in the grand final back in early March, Fnatic showed that they are not untouchable. Fnatic’s week started off great, with a dominant win over a Giants team that would finish week two at the bottom of the standings. But many, including Fnatic, were surprised to see BBL Esports push them to their limits.

Fnatic’s plot armor withstood numerous hits during the BBL series; the team lost several anti-ecos that should have been backbreaking, and Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev admitted after the match in the on-stage interview that their comms were a mess. Still, both Leo Jannesson and Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov showed up, and the team got the job done while fielding a sub. But even when Emir “Alfajer” Beder returns, Fnatic still has to contend with an EMEA field filled with (mostly) capable teams.

Sideshow was right: Karmine Corp are trolling

Photo by: Hara Amorós / Riot Games / LVP / lag.

Heading into the season, the biggest rivalry wasn’t between teams but between Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson and Karmine Corp fans. During a VCT LOCK//IN preview episode of Plat Chat, Sideshow adamantly said that KC was “trolling” with their roster, particularly with the decision to make Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom the in-game leader, drawing the ire of French VALORANT and Karmine Corp fans.

But it seems that Sideshow was right, as Karmine Corp narrowly overcame BBL in their first match, only to put on a disasterclass against Team Heretics. Whether it was mismatched buys or horrid time management, Karmine Corp made consistently terrible decisions at the beginning and the end of rounds, ending the series by failing to defuse the spike in a 3v1 retake. If you want to watch the lowlights of their match on Split, do yourself a favor and watch the (profanity-ridden) Sideshow co-stream.

Vitality are real contenders

Photo by: Hara Amorós / Riot Games / LVP / lag.

After their performance at VCT LOCK//IN, Vitality coach Salah Barakat confidently declared that his roster was in the top echelon of teams in EMEA, and would only get better with some stage experience. The coach’s faith in his team was not misplaced, as Vitality sits in second place as one of the only teams (along with Fnatic) that are 2-0.

Vitality notched decisive wins against Liquid and KOI, and duelist Karel “Twisten” Ašenbrener already looks like one of the league’s top players in his role. Vitality’s synergy and teamwork were exceptional, and a trip to Masters Tokyo is very much in the works.

Liquid has a long ways to go

To their credit, Liquid looked better than they did at VCT LOCK//IN. But the team with sky-high expectations has a lot more work still to do.

Liquid’s defensive side looked pretty good overall, especially against FUT, which you’d expect from a team sporting Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin and Igor “Redgar” Vlasov, but they struggled noticeably on both sides against Vitality. If they falter again against Karmine Corp (see above why this is bad), then Liquid really are in trouble.

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