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Esports: Only four remain in Valorant Champions contention

It's crunch time at Valorant VCT Champions 2022, the final tournament of this year's Riot tournament circuit, with just four teams still in the hunt for the title.

Just four teams remain and they all hail from different regions, making the year-end tournament a truly international affair.

The Upper Final sees LOUD and OpTic Gaming square off for a place in the Grand Final, with the loser dropping to the Lower Final to face either FunPlus Phoenix or DRX.

All four sides have had moments of magic in Istanbul and they will be hoping for further brilliance as they look to end the year in the best possible way.

LOUD able to upset OpTic Gaming


OpTic Gaming vs. LOUD


Istanbul, Turkey


15:00, Friday 16th September 2022

How to watch

Valorant Youtube and Twitch channel

OddsOpTic Gaming 4/7, LOUD 5/4

There is likely to be plenty of needle in this Upper Final encounter between LOUD and OpTic Gaming, given that it is a rematch of VCT Masters: Reykjavik Grand Final.

OpTic won 3-0 in Iceland, avenging a defeat to the Brazilians from earlier in the tournament. Since that Grand Final stomp, OpTic have seemingly had LOUD’s number, with two subsequent clashes resulting in wins for the North American roster.

The two faced off in group play earlier in this tournament and after two close maps, it was OpTic who stormed ahead in the deciding map of Pearl, winning 13-3.

That defeat should have been hard to swallow for LOUD, but they have dominantly put away ZETA Division Leviatan and DRX in three subsequent matches.

The South American roster did not drop a map in those three matches either, illustrating just how strong their recent play has been. OpTic might have awakened the beast, but will the chickens come home to roost?

Given OpTic's own run at the tournament thus far, the percentage call is to say no. They have bounced back from VCT Masters: Copenhagen with a flawless run in Istanbul thus far, defeating BOOM, LOUD, Team Liquid and XSET all by a 2-1 scoreline.

It is far from a dominant run on paper, but Team Liquid and XSET entered the tournament in white-hot form and the way they toughed out those series bodes well, as matches between these sides tend to be drawn out affairs.

In terms of a win condition, OpTic's is the same as usual, and it's called Jaccob 'yay' Whiteaker. 2022 has been a remarkable year for him and if he gets into the groove from an early stage, LOUD will have a very tough time containing him.

On the flipside, LOUD need to continue their fantastic synergy from recent matches. No player has outshone the rest, they all have stepped up when required and delivered, and that needs to be the case again.

OpTic are the deserving favourites, but despite what the head to head says, LOUD are no big outsider.

FunPlus and DRX almost too close to call


FunPlus Phoenix vs. DRX


Istanbul, Turkey


18:00, Friday 16th September 2022

How to watch

Valorant Youtube and Twitch channel

OddsFunPlus Phoenix 8/11, DRX 1/1

Both of these sides had emotional wins in their most recent matches and the Lower Final promises to be a fantastic clash.

For DRX, this tournament was about breaking the curse that had seen them fail to reach the top-four at international level.

After a flawless run in their opening three matches, where they defeated FURIA, 100 Thieves and FunPlus Phoenix without dropping a map, they bumped into a ferocious LOUD side in the Upper Bracket Semi Final, losing 2-0.

There was little shame in that defeat, however, and they bounced back with a heroic performance to down one of EMEA's finest, FNATIC, in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

The scenes of pure jubilation after the match showed just how hard the South Korean roster have worked to reach this point, but they will not be satisfied with just a top-four anymore.

Equally, FunPlus Phoenix will be satisfied with nothing but revenge. The European roster - who won VCT Masters: Copenhagen earlier this year - lost 2-0 to DRX in the Upper Bracket quarter-final, but have bounced back with wins over Leviatan and XSET.

The latter was a controversial affair, with the final round replayed after a turret glitch ultimately lost the round for XSET. FunPlus Phoenix lost the replayed round, which led to overtime, but they held their nerve and fought off a renewed XSET challenge to qualify for a second time.

Both teams came into the tournament as the best teams from their respective regions and they will be carrying the weight of that support in a match that is likely to be fuelled by emotion.

BuZz was in scintillating form earlier in the tournament and the fact DRX did not need him at his best to beat FNATIC should ring alarm bells for FunPlus Phoenix.

The match-up between him and FunPlus Phoenix's Zyppan could swing this match, an encounter that is already on a knife-edge.

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