NA’s “superteam” is out of VCT LOCK//IN after DRX make an incredible comeback

Stax led his team to victory on the game's newest agent.

The alpha bracket continued today at VCT LOCK//IN in São Paulo with a heavyweight showdown between North America’s Cloud9 and Korea’s DRX. Both teams have long histories in VALORANT, and both carry the hopes of their region on their shoulders in 2023. With just six teams left on this side of the bracket heading into the game, things were coming down to the wire.

After a chaotic but fast match, DRX came out ahead with a 2-1 victory despite getting crushed on the opening map. Their resilience, synergy, and innovative strategies surfaced at just the time to send C9 home.

The series was a rollercoaster from start to finish, with periods of utter dominance from both sides, featuring calculated teamplay and pristine individual mechanics as some of the best players in the world shined on stage.

C9 chose Pearl as the first map of the series, one that has been strong for both teams so far at LOCK//IN, and they made a statement as DRX’s strategies seemed to crumble under their dominance.

The Korean team is known for its strong set plays, especially in post-plant scenarios. But on Pearl, it looked like a completely different side stepped onto the stage. It felt like they could barely execute any of their strategies, only able to defend their post-plant three times on their attack.

Though Pearl is known as a heavily defender-sided map, C9’s retakes were something to behold. They were coordinated and calculated, and they didn’t even need yay at his high-fragging best, instead letting Xeppaaa continue his hot streak at LOCK//IN.

DRX seemed unable or unwilling to adapt. Meanwhile, it looked like C9 had done their homework during the rest day, countering their opponents’ known strategies on the map.

C9 took Pearl 13-3. Caster Michael “hypoc” Robins noted that this was “the worst international performance we’ve seen from DRX.” Moving on to Haven, another map that has historically been strong for both teams, C9 continued to ignore the buzz about Chamber not being meta, and yay locked in the agent.

DRX started to fight back on the offensive side of Haven. A few mistakes coming through from C9 allowed them to capitalize, though every round was still down to the wire.

Slowly, the Koreans began to look like their old selves, with stax and BuZz pulling out some amazing plays on Breach and Jett, respectively.

Despite a slight comeback from C9, DRX held their ground and continued to work as a team. The Korean squad took Haven 13-7, tying up the series despite their dismal showing on Pearl.

Moving on to Icebox, they threw in a curveball by locking in Harbor and opting against using Sage in their composition. Their site executes started to look even cleaner than they did on Haven.

Once Rb clutched a huge round for the team, DRX seemed to gather and snowball that energy with every round moving forward. They went on to demolish C9, taking a whopping 11-1 lead at the end of the half. Though the North Americans managed to grab the pistol round on their attack, DRX came right back to snuff out their hopes.

Stax was fully awake and alive, showcasing arguably the best Harbor performance the professional scene has seen up to this point. Though their strategy of leaving out a Sage was a gamble, the innovation of DRX’s in-game leader triumphed with their new composition.

DRX took icebox 13-2, even bettering C9’s earlier score on Pearl.

Stax easily won the MVP fan vote, with casters and analysts praising his mechanics on Harbor and his leadership alike.

C9, dubbed as North America’s “superteam” coming into LOCK//IN, is now out of the tournament.

Despite their amazing showing and innovation today, DRX still hasn’t looked as consistent or strong as they have in the past on the international stage. They will face the winner of Evil Geniuses vs Talon Esports tomorrow, Feb. 19 at 2pm CT.

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