A tremendous day for the NA vs. EMEA rivalry.
In the day-long battle between North America and EMEA, NA struck first following OpTic’s comeback victory against Liquid despite playing in front of a crowd at VALORANT Champions 2022. After that, XSET took on Fnatic in front of the loudest crowd, with the fans in Istanbul rallying behind Fnatic’s Turkish superstar Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder.
XSET came out hot on Pearl, quieting the crowd early with an aggressive defense that Fnatic struggled against. Cryo was a force to be reckoned with, watching over B long and shutting down Fnatic’s executes on B with the proven Chamber/Operator combo. He finished the first half with a staggering 17 kills versus only four deaths, as XSET led 9-3 after defense.
Fnatic started to rally on defense, holding off a couple of aggressive XSET force buys to fight their way back into the map. Cryo put another round on the board for XSET, their first of the half, via a clutch 1v2 post-plant play on A, but Fnatic kept it close thanks to some Derke entry kills and clutch retakes. XSET played fast up B long to get on site and hold off the retake to go up 11-8, and AYRIN and Cryo combined to pinch the Fnatic retake the next round to go up 12-8. AYRIN answered the call again the next round, rescuing XSET from a nearly blown 3v2 post-plant to take map one 13-8.
Fnatic responded quickly on Fracture, leading early on their attack side. Alfajer flourished with the crowd buff, waking up on Neon after a slow map one, getting plenty of entry kills and post-plant anchor kills. Despite trailing 5-1 at one point, XSET rallied with some crucial retakes before the end of the half, reducing the Fnatic lead to 7-5 before half-time.
XSET began to chip away at the Fnatic lead after switching to attack, with zekken’s Neon getting deep in sites early on and Cryo delivering more massive Chamber plays, leading to a 9-9 tie. They ended up taking the lead off a flawless round, thanks to zekken’s continued aggression, but Fnatic tied it at 11-11 off a shocking Bucky 2K from Mistic. A quick aggressive play from Fnatic fed right into a waiting XSET, who grabbed a 12-11 lead thanks to superb BcJ triple. XSET got onto B, walled off the tower, and secured the post-plant to take the map 13-11 and the series 2-0.
The win for XSET caps off a great day for North America against their EMEA rivals, with both NA teams moving on in the upper bracket, while all three EMEAs have been sent down to the lower bracket. XSET and OpTic will face each other in the winner’s bracket, while Fnatic will face a familiar foe in Liquid.