Team Liquid have been crowned the 2023 VALORANT VCT EMEA League champions after upsetting the LOCK//IN champions, Fnatic, in the grand final on May 28.
After winning the LOCK//IN tournament in March, Fnatic was the dominant force in the EMEA region throughout the VCT-partnered league as they won all nine series, just dropping one map in the process against BBL Esports while playing with a substitute.
This made the team the undeniable favorite of the subsequent playoffs. While they dropped an additional map against FUT Esports, they then beat Team Liquid in the winners’ final 14-12, 13-6 to reach the grand final.
Here they got a rematch against Team Liquid, who had won six of their last seven matches. With Fnatic having a two-map ban advantage, the smart money was on them quickly dispatching their opponents yet again, which looked to be happening when Fnatic took a map lead, winning Lotus 13-11.
From here, Liquid took Fnatic to Ascent, the map BBL had beaten them on earlier in the season. They responded to Liquid’s nine straight round wins with seven of their own to push the game to overtime to deny Fnatic’s legendary comeback ability with a 14-12 result.
Despite Fnatic’s undefeated streak on Haven since Oct. 2022, before Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov had even joined the team, Liquid sped through the map, securing a 13-6 result before finally pulling away from a tied 9-9 game on map four to take Fracture 13-11 and the series 3-1.
Throughout the series, Fnatic’s Emir “Alfajer” Beder ended with the top overall performance with 83 kills to 61 deaths on Killjoy, while Chronicle struggled on only 40 kills. In contrast, Liquid had a much more even set of performances, with every player netting between 61 and 72 kills.
With this, Team Liquid lifted the EMEA 2023 trophy and locked in the top seed at the upcoming Tokyo Masters event next month.
Prior to this game, Fnatic haven’t lost a match since Oct. 19th and have never lost one with this full lineup. Now, after 21 games, Liquid has proven that they are beatable and that EMEA has more than one serious title contender.
While this means Team Liquid will be the top-seeded EMEA team in Tokyo, both teams will skip the tournament’s initial group stage and start their title run in the quarterfinals. This is because Fnatic’s LOCK//IN win granted EMEA a second direct playoff berth at Masters Tokyo, which Fnatic will now take advantage of themselves.
Notably, no EMEA team has qualified for VALORANT Champions 2023 yet, as with four EMEA teams attending Masters Tokyo—Liquid, Fnatic, NAVI, and FUT—the top three between them in Tokyo will qualify for VALORANT‘s world championship event while one will miss out.
With Paper Rex crowned VCT Pacific champions earlier in the day, this just leaves the VCT Americas champion to be determined between Brazil’s LOUD and America’s NRG before the best teams in the world meet in Tokyo, Japan, from June 11 to 25.