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Esports: LOCK//IN Sao Paulo Monday preview

The opening tournament of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023, LOCK//IN Sao Paulo, is our first chance to see the new rosters for the upcoming season.

The tournament will be played in a best-of-one format, meaning that every match will be a ‘do or die’ scenario. There is no lower bracket and no second chances for those competing, which will lead to some fiercely competitive matches.

$500,000 is on the line and with so many new-look rosters landing in Brazil, we are likely to see some shocks along the way. The opening day of competition will see four teams fighting it out for a quarter-final spot in their side of the bracket, and you can find a preview of all the action below.

WhatKOI v NRG Esports, Champions Tour 2023: LOCK//IN Sao Paulo
WhereSao Paulo, Brazil
When17:00, Monday 13th February
How to watchYouTube, Twitch
OddsKOI 7/4, NRG 2/5

The tournament kicks off with a fascinating clash between North American and European-based teams, with NRG and KOI locking horns.

Known as OpTic Gaming on last year’s circuit, NRG made the Grand Final of VCT: Champions 2022 in Istanbul, losing out to LOUD in the final after a closely-contested series.

They have not played an official match since, but they have been hard at work in the off-season, making a host of roster changes. They have retained their core of captain FNS, Victor and crashies, but have brought in the duo of s0m and ardiis.

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s0m was on the NRG roster, before they bought out OpTic, while ardiis was a key part of the FunPlus Phoenix’s success in last year’s circuit, helping them to a win at VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 2: Masters Copenhagen.

On paper, NRG have a roster that can challenge for a spot in the latter stages of this tournament but there has to be a level of intrigue in the chances of KOI, who have totally overhauled their roster heading into this year.

KOI removed all five of their 2022 players from the active roster on New Year’s Eve and it is hard not to see their new roster as a stark upgrade. The eye is drawn to the additions of former GUILD duo koldamenta and trexx, while sheydos brings a wealth of experience from stints on Gambit and M3 Champions.

Their roster is completed by Acend mainstay starxo and Wolfen, who had been inactive since being removed from Case Esports’ roster in October.

Although KOI have the element of surprise, it is a shock that NRG are not heavier favourites. Their roster has remained largely unchanged from last year and they are proven at the top level of VALORANT.

WhatGiants Gaming v DetonatioN Gaming, Champions Tour 2023: LOCK//IN Sao Paulo
WhereSao Paulo, Brazil
When20:00, Monday 13th February
How to watchYouTube, Twitch
OddsGiants Gaming 1/5, DetonatioN Gaming 10/3

There is a huge odds disparity between these sides and perhaps it is not entirely warranted, given the recent performances of DetonatioN.

The Asian roster was last seen at Riot Games One Pro Invitational in December and they acquitted themselves well without winning against teams such as Paper Rex, DRX and FNATIC. Those performances have not impressed the wider community, however, and it is expected that Giants Gaming will outclass their opponents.

Giants completely overhauled their roster in November 2022 and we had our first sighting of the new squad at G-Loot Clash in the same month. They impressed at that tournament, beating Galatasaray Esports and BBL Esports before losing narrowly to Parla Esports in the semi-final.

Given it was their first official outing, it was a very promising performance and the fact they enter 2023 with relative stability versus other rivals will stand them in good stead.

The spanner in the works could be the six-man roster that DetonatioN possess, as it does give them a joker card to play should they wish to use it.

Will that be enough to sway the odds in DetonatioN’s favour? It is unlikely to be the case. Their lack of experience against international opposition is a big negative and, although similar comments apply to Giants, they have played a far greater breadth of teams in their region.

Although Giants are expected to take this series, DetonatioN are likely to make this competitive if they can build on their solid showing at that Riot Games Invitational from late last year. A 2-1 victory for Giants priced at 2/1 could be the way to play this series, with DetonatioN more than capable of taking a map.

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