An entwined history of two top tier teams will find its climax WePlay! VALORANT Invitational Grand Final

16:15, 19 Jul 2020

The WePlay! Invitational has delivered some of the greatest VALORANT competition the game has seen, showcasing the best European teams and their players in close matches, clutch rounds and the pure ecstasy of a huge win. Tonight, the event will find its climax in the final between Fish123 vs G2 Esports, two teams with incredible firepower, an entwined history and palpable hunger for glory. An additional $10,000 (~£8,000) and nothing short of the title of the best team in Europe is on the line. 

The rivalries & ridiculous records

The former top tier Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho are leading the charge in their respective teams. Having teamed up for most of VALORANT beta, ScreaM and mixwell parted ways with the intention of joining their respective professional teams. 

Despite a long career with a lot of trophies on their shelves, their drive to succeed seems to be as high as ever, judging by their impassioned pleas towards their respective teams which we got to listen to on their personal streams during this tournament. Their egos are tied to their performance, dragging their teams along with their drive, hyping them up or demanding them to refocus. To tame the beast within will be a focal point of the match today, with momentum as a major part in the management of the sheer emotion that is always present in the communication of these two teams.

Equally important is the relationship of star player Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks and his former team fish123, who had dominated the European beta. After ardiis’ departure, the team lost some of its profile and had to reinvent itself, causing fractures that have yet to be completely amended. Instead, the potentially biggest plug in the European scene, ScreaM was put into the hole that ardiis left. Team captain Adam "ec1s" Eccles has shown valiant performances throughout the weekend on the Operator role and together with ScreaM’s explosiveness and the team core’s calmness on top of their crisp fundamentals, the fish have swum through to a hard-earned final appearance.

Yet it’s hard to feel that ardiis isn’t the one who got away. The Latvian sports an unbelievable record, having won every best of three he has participated in (barring the influencer invitational that G2 hosted in which he played with Team ANGE1, a mixed event that should very much be disregarded in this record). Judging by mixwell’s stream, ardiis does it all for G2, from solid pistols to great rifles to an outstanding Operator. Furthermore, he’s the creative brain behind the team, dictating strategy on top of clearing comms and cracking jokes when the air is thick with tension. What he contributes towards a team is unprecedented in this game’s young esports history. He’s the most valuable player in the world and he’s looking to crown himself the king of Europe because nothing less is on the line in this match — the European throne.

The win conditions

Both G2 Esports and Fish123 have a similar profile in that they are a stacked roster of individual skill who got past slightly stronger strategical teams than them by counting on superior fundamentals and firepower. Every single player has demonstrated the ability to take over a map with ec1s and ScreaM standing out for fish123 and ardiis, mixwell and paTiTek doing so for G2 Esports. Given the dynamics of how these teams have beaten their position, momentum and subsequent confidence that comes with it will be a deciding factor.

As such, pistol rounds move into focus in which G2 appears to have the upper hand. For both teams, maps in which their opponent got rolling represented major obstacles in comm structure and flow which regularly took many rounds to overcome and deescalate. Both teams, especially in mixwell and ScreaM, have shown a propensity to recklessly peek corners with limited success when their opponent strung together several consecutive rounds, making matters worse for their teams. 

For Fish123 specifically, it appears that their movement and agility across the map is limited, often openly telegraphing their site-attacks on offence and rotating too slowly on defence. If G2 were to spot these tendencies reliably, they’d have an easy time choosing the rules of engagement. Fish123 excels when they can stagger an attack, having smooth paths of de-escalation that draw attention and create opportunities for an aggressive ScreaM. 
 
Actionable strategic adjustments that fish123 could realistically make before the tournament are limited but would likely come from a mix between sly calls from ec1s, who has proven to have a solid read on the rhythm of a round with the occasional unforeseen injection of aggression, which ScreaM loves to plot. These forceful executes onto a site that Fish123 use are very effective, but they often succumb to unclean sightline allocation in which not everyone’s back is set up for a refrag in post-plant situations. 

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For G2 to lose the match today, it would likely take outstanding individual performances from the members of Fish123, especially on Haven, a map that seems to be the deciding point in this series. If Fish123 was to win the three bombsite map, the series suddenly opens up with both Bind and Split as potential finishers. Haven, widely considered the dust2 of VALORANT, is a heavily skill-based map that usually rewards the team with more firepower and both teams are close enough for the individual match day performance to make a difference here. G2’s rotations on Haven have also often been questionable, opening for teams like PartyParrots to do a lot of irreparable damage.

In competitive series since G2’s inception and their first showing at the Vitality European Open, G2 has been unbeaten on Ascent and has only lost once on Split. However, their match records against proper European teams on Bind is 1-2 while Fish sit at a 1-0 for this tournament, which, granted, neither should be seen as a clear signal given the sample size

The likely winner

On an average day and by transitive property, G2 should be emerging as the winner here. Their map pool is scary and even Fish123’s home map Haven has not helped them much in this tournament, currently sitting at a score of 1-2. However, the teams have not played each other yet and the rich history of those rosters could produce a concoction of variables that could cause complete havoc to all observed team structures. 

The stakes for this tournament are high and emotions will understandably be bubbling up under the surface, causing additional volatility once a team catches a good start. Nevertheless, the match is likely to go the distance and together with WePlay!’s excellent production, will be a worthwhile match to catch.


Image via Riot Games

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