The reigning champions are reeling, but winning.
Undefeated LOUD has started to show cracks in VCT Americas.
After surprisingly close games against low-ranked teams like Sentinels and Evil Geniuses, their next match was against the winless KRÜ Esports ONDATE. On paper, this series should have been an easy win for LOUD to punch their ticket to Masters, yet every map turned out close, with LOUD barely squeaking out a win.
KRÜ dominated the highlights, including a standout performance from Melser, who managed to clock up plenty of highlight reel moments in the first two maps.
But, just as there was in the previous two series, LOUD had a turning point. On Ascent, down 11-7, it seemed like the team was facing their first loss. Then, clutch plays from Erick “aspas” Santos, Cauan “cauanzin” Pereira, and Matias “Saadhak” Delipetro shifted momentum from KRÜ back to LOUD. The LOCK//IN finalists returned and finished the map 13-11, not even allowing their opponents to hit match point.
Then, it all came down to Splita map LOUD has had recent issues with. In their last series against Evil Geniuses, LOUDs defense side on Split was exploited, losing it 13-3. Luckily enough against KRÜ, LOUD started on attack, building an 8-4 lead to quell some worries about the map.
Then, when LOUD went on defense, KRÜ fought back to a tie at 9-9, using similar strategies and smokes just like EGs plans. It looked like the winless team was still in the series, but aspas denied them any chance with some great Operator shots.
In the end, KRÜ only won a single round after tying that map.
Following this result, the VALORANT champs and LOCK///IN finalists clinched playoffs, but they almost lost to a winless team and confidence in their quality is starting to flag. The age-old phrase of a win is a win holds true, but it certainly leaves some worry.