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DRX vs FPX on Ascent was a game for the ages

08:07 PM September 10, 2022

Nothing beats the LAN atmosphere and fans in the Volkswagen Arena in Istanbul were treated to a spectacle as VALORANT Champions 2022 playoffs kicked off last night, September 9th, with a South American duel in LOUD vs Leviatán and Masters Copenhagen champions FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) taking on DRX.

The matchday opened with LOUD coming back from being 6-12 down on Icebox to win 8(!) straight rounds and winning 14-12 in overtime. The next game was more straightforward for the Masters Reykjavík runners-up as they took Leviatán’s map pick 13-6 to become the first team to book their upper bracket semifinal spot.

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While LOUD versus Leviatán showcased a spectacular comeback in its own right, we’re here to talk about Game 1 of the next series and relive the longest map in Champions history, even when it didn’t have the makings of a classic early on.

FPX choosing Ascent wasn’t much of a surprise as it was one of their best maps in EMEA Stage 2 Challengers (100% win rate) and Masters Copenhagen (75%). What came as a surprise, however, was DRX stringing together a 6-0 lead after winning the pistol. This owed a lot to Yu “Buzz” Byung-chul coming back on his signature Jett after spending most of the season on Chamber duty but FPX came up with a rally of their own to end the half with 5 on the board.

The second half was a more tightly-contested affair after FPX won an eco against DRX’s second-round buys. The EMEA side made another timely stop to DRX’s momentum in round 18 to cut the lead by 2 but match point came nonetheless.

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DRX was well in the driver’s seat but neither side’s economy was in a good spot. A mix of shoddy buys and questionable site takes didn’t help DRX’s cause at all and Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks picking up frags he had no right to take was a sign of things to come. Regulation ended with both teams having 12 rounds apiece.

Come overtime, there were clear signs that DRX had fumbled the bag and the win was ripe for FPX’s taking. The player camera feed reactions in the rounds leading up to overtime showed a visibly distressed Stax and the ghosts of DRX’s past blunders began creeping up again.

But DRX’s defense held firm in the first round of overtime, and the Korean side looked to cruise into the lead with their numerical advantage. Eyebrows were raised when ardiis was given space to plant uncontested but jaws subsequently dropped when DRX players dropped one by one by one trying to take him down. With a sliver of health remaining, FPX’s savior isolated multiple gunfights in quick succession to break DRX’s soul. He stood up from his seat to take it all in. Are you not entertained?

Bring on round 26. DRX get the spike down and immediately bring the numbers in their favor. And it was that man again, ardiis, with the odds stacked against him. He’s done the impossible in the previous round, and the crowd was well aware of it. “ARDIIS, ARDIIS, ARDIIS,” echoed throughout the stadium. He clutched a 1v3, surely, a 1v2 is no problem. “ARDIIS, ARDIIS, ARDIIS,” as the raid boss walked up to B main twirling his karambit menacingly. But alas, DRX righted the ship in time to bring their tally up to 13 as well.

The next 10 or so minutes came straight out of Groundhog Day as Asian fans who initially said “I’ll just watch map 1 before bed,” began to seriously question their decisions in life. DRX would defend to take the advantage and FPX would defend with their lives to draw level; rinse and repeat three times. The night wore on and the two sides still couldn’t be separated.

FPX would eventually make the breakthrough and score on their attacking side to take the 17-16 lead and looked well on their way to closing out the map. Enter Kim “stax” Gu-taek.

At this point of the match, it’s worth noting that the DRX roster (even back in their Vision Strikers days) was known for crumbling under intense pressure. They would usually dominate their group but immediately falter against opposition that was at or slightly above their level. DRX having the composure to stay in the game despite giving up a sizeable lead was a rather new sight to behold and the Champions audience was all for it.

With the game once again tied, stax and Kim “Zest” Gi-seok were left with a near-impossible task of pulling off a 2v4 retake. But as fate would have suggested, they wipe out the FPX hold in the blink of an eye.

The final round of the game saw Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan, who was performing below his usual level, almost singlehandedly stave off what was FPX’s final retake attempt of the game. Tucked away in the B main corner in anticipation of a late flank, MaKo dodged a well-timed flash to take out Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov and Pontus “Zyppan” Eek. Zest cleans up Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin as the curtains fall on arguably the greatest match in Champions history.

With emotions still riding high, DRX proceeded to take their map pick, Breeze, 13-5 to win the series 2-0 and book an upper bracket semifinal meeting with LOUD on Monday, September 12th. Meanwhile, FPX drop to the lower bracket where they will take on Leviatán to fight for their tournament lives tomorrow night.

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TAGS: ANGE1, ardiis, buzz, DRX, FPX, FunPlus Phoenix, mako, rb, Shao, stax, SUYGETSU, Valorant, VALORANT Champions 2022, zest, Zyppan
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