VALORANT First Strike: Europe Main Event – All the Best Bits from the Tournament
VALORANT First Strike: Europe was a tournament full of ups and downs, with two unexpected finalists toppling the favourites with some spectacular plays. From great team moments, stunning solo domination, and outstanding one-offs, the matches had it all. Whether you’re impressed by consistent brilliance, effective teamwork, or moments of magic, First Strike: Europe delivered.
Heading into VALORANT First Strike: Europe, G2 Esports were unbeaten in VALORANT tournaments. In the esport’s first season, they had quickly established themselves as one of the strongest teams in Europe, and fans were already speculating how long they could keep the streak going.
Unfortunately for them, Team Heretics had other ideas. The eventual winners met the favourites in the semi-final, and after three hard fought rounds, sent G2 packing. Team Heretics won the first match up 13-10, with both sides racking up far more wins while defending the Spike – just one of G2’s ten victories came with the Spike. The second matchup was a more routine 13-5 win for G2, but with everything on the line, a hard fought 13-11 win on Split ended G2’s run. Now, we have to wait and see whether this is a blip on G2’s European dominance, or a sign that competition is catching up.
SUMN FC’s comeback against FunPlus Phoenix
Team Heretics will be the team ultimately remembered in this tournament, not only because they beat G2, but also because they eventually took home the crown. However, the losing finalists SUMN FC probably had the most exciting match, launching a huge comeback against FunPlus Phoenix in their semi-final.
Much like G2 vs Team Heretics, this was a heavily favoured, experienced team up against a squad that was only finalised in early October – prior to First Strike: Europe, FunPlus Phoenix had only ever been eliminated by G2. So when the first match ended in a one-sided 13-4 win for FunPlus Phoenix, it looked like the tie was done and dusted. SUMN FC did not take it lying down though, and with back-to-back wins on Haven and Bind (at healthy 13-6 and 13-8 margins too), both semis ended in upsets.
The play of this match-up was when three SUMN FC completely read Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow’s attempt to get the drop on them, and all three camped and shot from below at Split’s Mid Vent. As impressive as it is hilarious, it just goes to show how talented SUMN are at understanding not only the game, but their opposing team too.
loWel’s string of MVPs
We’ll get onto a couple of great individual plays in a moment, but Christian “loWel” Garcia Antoran deserves special praise. Tournament MVP in itself is an impressive feat, but it only grows even more special when you see that loWel actually picked up the HyperX MVP in the final, HyperX Player of the Series in the semi-final, and in the quarter-final against Team Liquid. loWel turned it on when it counted, and just never turned it off.
loWel was the only player in the final to keep a consistent Agent choice throughout, expertly playing the Sentinel role as Sage. Cool, calm, and collected, a patient and decisive pistol kill to put Team Heretics 1-0 up in the first round of the final exemplified his style of play.
Mistic’s final smoke kill on Bind
SUMN FC didn’t just have the game of the tournament, they probably had the play of the tournament too. In the final, James “Mistic” Orfila pulled off an unbelievable play in Bind, shooting through the smoke as Viper.
In just a single shot, Mistic got a one-shot headshot kill on Melih "pAura" Karaduran, aiming at only a vague silhouette through the smokescreen. It’s the kind of shot you usually see sent out with more than a little hope attached to it, just before an Agent rotates out of an area. Every once in a while though, they pay off, and there’s no better place for that than the final.
pAura with the clutch
While pAura may well be remembered as an unwitting part in Mistic’s amazing play, the Team Heretics star was not without great moments of his own. In the semi-final against G2, with the score at 5-5 in the final round, it came down to a 1v1 of pAura and Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho.
With mixwell on low health and pAura still at max, pAura took a leaf out of his captain loWel’s book and opted for a patient approach, eventually taking out mixwell just as he rounded a corner, and gave his team an important 6-5 lead.https://www.twitch.tv/valorant...