Labeled as a huge favorite, DRX let their guard down early.
The second day of the VCT LOCK//IN tournament continued with the day’s afternoon match between the Pacific league’s DRX and EMEA’s BBL Esports.
With a fiery start in Brazil, the single-elimination VALORANT bracket has already left big names like sheydos and starxo out of the tournament. Though there are favorites from the last two years of professional VALORANT in the mix everywhere you look, it’s hard to predict which way any given match will go.
Korean team DRX is known as one of the best teams in the VCT Pacific league. They are one of the few teams that made it through the franchising chaos of late 2022 with no big changes. Their highest finish was third at Champions in 2022, right behind North America’s OpTic and eventual champions LOUD, from Brazil.
Today, DRX pushed back against the pressure from BBL and stood strong in their first VCT match of the year despite letting one map get away from them. They took down BBL 2-1.
Pearl, DRX’s map pick, went swimmingly for the experienced roster. With the notable absence of Chamber in the meta, DRX went for a double-controller composition featuring Jett as their duelist. BBL, in contrast, ran double initiator and surprised viewers by picking Yoru as their duelist.
BBL’s attack was rough. They struggled to get onto the site, get the spike down, and overall maneuver around the map. Pearl tends to be a defender-sided map, and this was proven when QutionerX and SouhcNi both failed to get even one kill to their name in the first half. Despite this, BBL didn’t give in and still got three rounds for themselves on attack.
On defense, despite a valiant effort from QutionerX on the Yoru pick, DRX steamrolled their way through to a 13-3 victory.
Going into Ascent, the BBL players stood their ground and won the first four rounds of the map in stylish fashion. The Korean and Turkish playstyles of these two teams continued to clash. BBL’s defense was very strong, as the team chose to lock down sites and avoid playing for retakes, leaving mid open.
As the BBL players celebrated after each won round, their confidence grew.
With the momentum now in BBL’s favor, Ascent drifted into their corner. The team celebrated with cheers as they took the map 13-11. This is the first time DRX has lost Ascent since Masters Copenhagen. Concern mounted for one of the VALORANT teams labeled as a favorite for the entire tournament.
Moving into Haven, DRX quickly took things back into their hands by winning eight rounds in a row on their attack. Their clean positioning and strong in-game leadership from stax kept them in the series.
Rb, playing Killjoy, then excelled on Haven and didn’t die until the ninth round, which was also DRX’s first round loss on the map.
BBL didn’t give up even when DRX got to match point. They worked their way from 12-3 to 12-7 and DRX took their timeout. A chaotic final round of the map left BuZz in a position to clutch up, and he succeeded. DRX escaped with their lives after a much closer series than anticipated, taking Haven 13-7 and the series 2-1.
DRX will move on in the Alpha bracket and face the winner of Cloud9 vs Paper Rex. Their next VALORANT match is on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 11am CT.