VALORANT First Strike: Europe – The Main Stage Preview
Very soon, we’ll be watching the best VALORANT players in Europe battle it out at First Strike: Europe, our first Riot-produced VALORANT tournament in the region. In preparation for the final set of games in this prestigious tournament, we’re taking a look at the brackets playing out on the main stage, how the teams got there, and how their First Strike runs could play out.
G2 Esports vs Orgless
Let’s start with the tournament favourites, the mighty G2 Esports. G2 are the reigning champions of the European League of Legends scene, and if their strong performance thus far is anything to go by, they are looking to extend that domination to VALORANT. The team certainly didn’t hold back in the Ignition series, winning every event they took part in and racking up a total of six titles in the first year.
Their qualifiers run has been nothing short of flawless, as they cut through teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas with ruthless efficiency. G2’s roster, led by Spanish star Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas Colocho, is well-rounded and adaptable, but most importantly, they understand the game and its many nuances.
Meanwhile, as their not-so-subtle name suggests, Orgless (formerly known as Prodigy) are an independent team without the support of a major esports organisation. Orgless held strong throughout the qualifiers but came up short against Team Liquid, who soundly destroyed them in a one-sided clash.
Throughout their first year of professional play, G2 have demonstrated a knack for shifting the meta in their favour. Orgless will need to be prepared for anything and possibly pull something special out of the bag to beat G2 in the quarter-finals.
Team Liquid vs Team Heretics
Despite being another powerhouse esports org, Team Liquid’s track record in VALORANT is rocky. Liquid is filled with some of the most talented players in the region, but they haven't always consistently delivered on the promise of their roster. Fans will no doubt remember the sting of their defeat at the hands of FunPlus Phoenix in the BLAST Twitch Invitational, which led Liquid to a third-place finish – time will tell if FPX can make history repeat itself this time around.
With that being said, the team has looked on top of their game in the qualifiers, with standout plays from the likes of Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Adam “ec1s” Eccles making Liquid look like a formidable prospect indeed. On top of that, Liquid even managed to beat G2 in the Best in the West show match, proving that they are strong contenders for the First Strike: Europe trophy.
Their competition, and a team with one of the most diverse rosters in the competition, are Team Heretics. This Spanish org showed huge promise in the qualifiers, vanquishing every opponent that dared challenge them. They’ll have their work cut out for them against Team Liquid, but Team Heretics have a huge fan following and plenty to prove against the more established teams, so don't expect them to back down from the fight.
FunPlus Phoenix vs nolpenki
Another arrival from the League of Legends scene, FunPlus Phoenix's European VALORANT squad have established themselves as a team to beat in First Strike: Europe. After being pipped to the post in the BLAST Twitch Invitational by G2, the team have shown relentless determination to succeed, racking up an enviable string of wins in the qualifiers.
FPX will take on nolpenki in the first round of the main event, one of the smaller independent teams that not everyone expected to enter the main event. The largely Nordic squad had mixed results in the qualifiers, failing to make the cut in the first round after a loss to Orgless. On their second attempt, the team came into their own, taking down Guild Esports – a team that had been considered a lock for the main stage. Next, Nolpenki took on Enterprise Esports, coming back from an initial first game loss to take down the Czech team.
Phoenix may have the backing of an organisation and an impressive track record, but it would be foolish to count nolpenki out just yet. This is definitely a match you'll want to keep an eye on.
SUMN FC vs Purple Cobras
If any Brits reading are looking for some home-grown talent to support in this competition, look no further than SUMN FC. This grassroots squad aren’t attached to any esports organisation, but have already shown remarkable talent in VALORANT esports. This majority UK-based team have demonstrated extreme skill in the qualifiers, rolling over their competition with ease. Holes in their armour did begin to show against eXiLe eSports, who ultimately lost the match but gave SUMN quite the run for their money in the process. SUMN have also shown promise outside of First Strike, after taking second place in the VALORANT Contenders Cup, losing only to tournament winners FPX.
As for Purple Cobras, after struggling in the first round of qualifiers, the team managed to slither back up the ranks in their second play-ins group, even defeating Ninjas in Pyjamas – a far more established name in the esports world.
We’ll see if these cobras have any venom left when they sink their teeth into SUMN FC in the quarter-finals, though the British team will be no slouch, since they're no doubt looking for revenge on FPX in this competition.
Now that you’re up to speed on where each team stands, why not let us know which team you are rooting for on Twitter. Head over to the official VALORANT European Esports Twitch or YouTube channels to see all the VALORANT First Strike: Europe main event action, live from 16:30 CET on 3 December.