NRG to take down KOI, Giants to get first blood: George’s VCT LOCK//IN predictions for day one

We're back.

After months of a grueling wait with roster changes and off-season tournaments, weve finally got another international VALORANT event. 

Today one of the favorites for the tournament, NRG, are set to face off against KOI in the first round while Giants take on DetonatioN FocusMe. As the bracket is a single elimination format, two of these teams will go home after one matchbrutal. 

KOI vs. NRG 

The first match of the day is EMEA team KOI facing off against North Americas NRG at 11am CT. 

I expect NRG to take the victory. Not only are they considered one of the best teams based on scrim results in the regionsome players told Dot Esportsbut the team have added a winning piece to the puzzle. 

When the team disbanded following OpTic Gamings failure to secure a partnership with Riot Games to take part in the Americas international league last year, the second-best team in the world at the time was practically forced to depart the organization if they wanted to compete at the highest level in 2023. 

The core stuck it out; in-game leader FNS, Crashies, Victor, and head coach Chet, by joining NRG. The heavy hitters for the team, however, in Marved and yay, were missing. One player from the former NRG roster, s0m, kept his place on the team, likely as a smokes player, while NRG looked to EMEA to recruit a new duelist. 

Enter Ardiis, a Masters-winning superstar who elevated the FunPlus Phoenix roster to new heights. I believe Ardiis is the key piece to the NRG puzzle. Prior to Chambers introduction to the competitive meta, Ardiis was usually on Jett (or rarely initiator duty), an agent that has made its return to the meta following the Chamber nerfs. Hes got big shoes to fill, but if Jett is on the menu, Ardiis can make it work. 

KOI, on the other hand, put together a group of known talent in the EMEA region. 

The team are entirely new from start to finish, and I suspect that a few months of practice together will not be enough to take down a core that is one of the most successful in VALORANT history. But stranger things have happened. 

Georges prediction: 2-1 NRG 

Giants vs. DetonatioN FocusMe 

The second match of the tournament will be EMEA team Giants facing off against DetonatioN FocusMe at 2pm CT. 

Im going to call this one a mid-off. 

Giants are a strong team, featuring the likes of former G2 star nukkye alongside former Gen.G player rhyme. I dont suspect they are the best team in the region, but they arent too far away from the bottom. 

DetonatioN FocusMe, on the other hand, look pretty mediocre. They failed to win a map against Paper Rex, Fnatic, or DRX at the ONE Pro Invitational in December. If you cant hang with the big boys, you need to prove you can beat the middle of the pack, at least. 

Giants are likely the favorite to take this one since they feature some quality players from EMEA. Plus, a potential matchup against KOI in the next round (albeit extremely unlikely) would definitely add fuel to a regional rivalry. 

Georges prediction: 2-0 Giants 

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