Having begun with 12 of the best teams from across the globe competing, the VALORANT VCT Stage 2 Masters in Copenhagen will soon reach its conclusion.
The event is now down to only four remaining teams - Paper Rex, OpTic Gaming, Fnatic and FunPlus Phoenix - and in a matter of days, new champions will be crowned.
There have already been a handful of shocks in Denmark, with both LOUD and XERXIA bowing out without wins in the group stage and there could yet be more twists and turns before one side scoops the $200,000 prize.
Friday begins with the upper bracket final between Paper Rex and OpTic Gaming, with the winning side set to advance to the Grand Final, while the losing side will face the winner of the lower bracket semi-final between FunPlus Phoenix and Fnatic.
Paper Rex v OpTic Gaming, upper bracket final
09.00am ET, Friday 22nd July 2022
|How to watch|
VALORANT Twitch channel
|Odds||Paper Rex +100, OpTic Gaming -138|
It has not been an easy ride for Masters Reykjavik finalists OpTic Gaming at the Masters Copenhagen this season.
They did things the hard way in the VCT Stage 2 Masters group stage, losing their opening contest to Guild Esports before winning both their elimination match and decider match against LOUD and Kru Esports respectively.
But since then they have gone from strength to strength, with confident wins over XSET and DRX in the upper bracket of the knockout stage.
But while OpTic have started to show some grit recently, they could struggle to overpower Paper Rex, who started in the upper bracket quarter-finals as a result of being one of the top seeds at the event.
Paper Rex may not have been involved in the event's group stage, but they have been flawless in their two knockout matches so far, defeating Group A winners Guild Esports and a strong Fnatic side without dropping a map.
They have two players who rank among the best in the event in terms of average combat scores - Jing Jie "Jinggg" Wang (262.3) and Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto (252.3) - while Aaron "mindfreak" Leonhart has looked a serious MVP candidate for Paper Rex with 1.48 kill-death ratios in matches with Guild Esports and Fnatic.
Paper Rex lost their only upper-bracket contest at the Stage 1 Masters in Reykjavik earlier this year but look a much stronger unit now and, at +100, they are worth backing to come out on top against OpTic Gaming.
FunPlus Phoenix v Fnatic, lower bracket semi-final
11.00am ET, Friday 22nd July 2022
|How to watch|
VALORANT Twitch channel
|Odds||FunPlus Phoenix +125, Fnatic -175|
FunPlus Phoenix were not involved in the Stage 1 Masters in Reykjavik earlier this year, but responded with a decent run at the EMEA Stage 2 Challengers to reach Copenhagen.
In the final of that Stage 2 Challengers event, however, they were overpowered 3-0 by Fnatic, who they are now set to face in the next stage of the Masters Copenhagen.
FunPlus had been looking vulnerable coming into this Stage 2 Masters in Denmark, with key player Dmitry "SUYGETSU" Ilyushin having been unavailable due to visa issues.
However, "SUYGETSU" has since secured a visa and since he has linked up with the team, they have looked solid.
FunPlus enjoyed wins over both group winners Guild Esports and DRX in the tournament's lower bracket, with their 2-0 defeat of DRX a particularly surprising result and they should be brimming with confidence right now.
However, they were knocked down to the lower bracket of the event by Fnatic, who subsequently lost 2-0 to Paper Rex, relegating them to the lower bracket as well.
The teams now reconvene for a place in the lower bracket final with the losing side set to be eliminated from the tournament.
And while Fnatic may hold the upper hand when it comes to the recent head-to-head battle between the sides, FunPlus now have a not-so-secret weapon in their ranks in "SUYGETSU", who takes them to the next level and they have shown they can beat sides considered above them.
Fnatic have also not been without their faults at this event and are arguably a bit lighter on match practice with only three matches to their name in this event.
They dropped games in two of those three contests and there are worse bets to be had than backing FunPlus Phoenix to win this knockout contest at +125.
Alternatively, FunPlus could be a decent bet at +1.5 on the match handicap at -225.