Over the next few days, North America will find out which two of the four remaining teams in the VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 2 playoffs will represent the region at Masters: Copenhagen. From reigning Masters: Reykjavík champions OpTic Gaming to plucky underdogs NRG, here’s what you need to know about each of the remaining four teams and their journey to reach the final four in the NA VCT Stage 2 playoffs.
OpTic are looking to defend their Masters title. Photo credit: Riot Games
The reigning Masters: Reykjavík champions enter the final four just one series win away from qualifying for their fourth consecutive international event. If they qualify, they’ll have a chance to defend their title.
OpTic Gaming were dominant throughout Stage 2, only losing to Evil Geniuses 2-1 in the group stage and topping Group A with a 4-1 record. In the playoffs, OpTic got revenge against Evil Geniuses when they 2-0’d the squad to move forward into the upper bracket final against XSET.
“We can’t underestimate them,” Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker told Nerd Street. “They are a really strong team and they have consistently shown that they are always a contender at these events. They are a team that has really strong individuals that can pop off, so you can never count them out.”
Besides XSET, OpTic appear to have another opponent in their way. On Thursday, Pujan “FNS” Mehta and Austin “crashies” Roberts tweeted that they had COVID. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to play and how the illness might affect their play.
Regardless of what happens in their remaining matches, OpTic Gaming are guaranteed to at least represent North America at VCT Champions later this year. In their worst-case scenario, even if OpTic don’t qualify for Masters: Copenhagen, they will have an opportunity to use that time away from the stage to prepare for the biggest international VALORANT tournament of the year.
Still, OpTic Gaming want to continue their reign of dominance over North America and do what no other team in VALORANT has ever done.
“We want to qualify for Copenhagen and become the first team to have back-to-back wins,” yay said. “That being said, as long as we are improving day by day, then I am happy because results will always come off of that growth.”
XSET are guaranteed to finish higher than fourth. Photo credit: Nerd Street
Forever fourth no more. XSET finally have broken the curse that had plagued their narrative of consistency since last year. The “heavy hitters” now stand one series win away from qualifying for their very first international event.
It was no coincidence that XSET reached the position where they are right now. XSET were the strongest team in Group B after going 4-1 in the group stage, only losing to 100 Thieves. Just like OpTic Gaming, however, XSET got their revenge, beating 100 Thieves in the playoffs 2-0.
They now enter a series against arguably the best team in the world in OpTic Gaming as they look to book their ticket to the Stage 2 playoffs final as well as their spot at Masters: Copenhagen. A combination of constant hardwork and effort could finally push XSET over the top which is something that has driven the team through their previous failures.
“Regardless of who was on XSET, we just kept getting better and better,” Jordan "AYRIN" He said after taking down 100 Thieves. “Now, we have gotten to a point where we think we can take it all the way because we are focused on the goal to make an international event.”
Luckily for them, even if they do not take down OpTic Gaming, they will have a second chance to qualify for Copenhagen against the winner of NRG/FaZe Clan match.
Babybay has been at the core of FaZe Clan's roster since 2020. Photo credit: Activision Blizzard
FaZe Clan’s growth from 2021 to 2022 has transformed them from talented fraggers to a team that can not only frag out when needed, but tactically compete with the top teams in North America.
The constant dark horses of Stage 2, FaZe Clan finished second in the group stage with a 3-2 record, but were relegated down to the lower bracket after dropping a close 2-1 series against 100 Thieves.
Since then, FaZe Clan have made a lower bracket run, with two consecutive 2-1 victories over Luminosity and then 100 Thieves in a rematch. Now, they find themselves in the top four, a position the team has not reached since their initial run in VCT NA Stage 1 in 2021.
In order to grab a spot at Masters: Copenhagen, FaZe Clan will need to win two more lower bracket matches against NRG and then the loser of OpTic Gaming vs. XSET.
Ethan competed at Masters: Berlin last year with 100 Thieves. Photo credit: Riot Games
NRG entered the Stage 2 playoffs as massive underdogs following a lackluster 2-3 performance in the group stage, only taking down The Guard and TSM, two teams that finished below them in the standings. As a result of their fourth-place finish in Group A, NRG were directly seeded into the lower bracket where the most likely outcome was for them to drop out in the first round. However, NRG have completely revamped their playstyle and taken down both Ghost Gaming and Evil Geniuses en route to a match with FaZe Clan in the lower bracket semifinals.
Once again, NRG are the underdogs against FaZe Clan, a team who many herald for their primary stars Andrei “babybay” Francisty and Quan “Dicey” Tran. However, you cannot underestimate a team who has thrived ever since the acquisition of Ethan “Ethan” Arnold alongside longtime NRG star Sam “s0m” Oh. NRG are two matches away from a ticket to Copenhagen. Can they complete the underdog run to make it there?
The best-of-five upper bracket final match between XSET and OpTic Gaming will take place Friday at 4 p.m. ET where the winner will secure their spot at Masters: Copenhagen. NRG and FaZe Clan will face off following that match. The loser of XSET vs. OpTic will still have one more chance to qualify for Copenhagen through the lower bracket final against the winner of FaZe vs. NRG on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games