December 16, 2021
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These past couple of weeks – especially the last – have been crucial for fans and players of both Rocket League and VALORANT. Both esports titles just saw their biggest tournaments yet this year – in VALORANT Champions case, it’s biggest event ever – and both were incredible showcases of the kind of excitement brough by esports.

In honor to these teams and their journey to the top, let’s take a closer look at the winning teams of Rocket League’s Fall Split Major and VALORANT Champions 2021. Warning: spoilers below!

VALORANT’S EUROPEAN DARKHORSE

Coming to VALORANT Champions 2021, there were quite a few favorites. From North America, fans expected great things from Sentinels, while Asia’s Vision Strikers were seen as a dark horse. From Europe, fans had Team Liquid as their favorite choice, with FNATIC taking second place.

However, none of these names were at VLR Champions 2021 grand-finals. Instead, it was the CIS favorites Gambit taking on Europe’s underdogs from Acend. It wasn’t an easy match, as the game went across all five maps picked by the teams. At the end of the match, however, it was Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt’s Acend leaving the server with a win.

Acend winning VALORANT Champions was the latest in a series of surprises brought to fans during the whole event. From KRU’s impressive journey that ended in the semi-finals to Sentinels disappointing, VLR Champions will be a tournament that fans of the Riot FPS won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Back to Acend, the squad was already seen as a powerful team – as we mentioned here – but few expected them to outright win Champions. They absolutely deserved it, though, and gave viewers incredible matches from their opening day encounter against Keyd Stars to their final game. Congratulations, Acend, and congratulations to zeek, who was named the tournament’s MVP!

DREAM RUN

As for how ACEND run started, again, the team came to Champions 21 as dangerous underdogs. Zeek had already shown that he was one player everyone should keep an eye on, and the rest of the roster is also packed with interesting players.

Acend first game, against Keyd Stars, saw the team involved in controversy early on. The Brazilians playing for Keyd were caught abusing an exploit, and while they had won the match, Riot reversed the result and gave Acend the win.

Their next game saw Acend facing EnVy, one of the favorites from North America. Still, EnVy were no match Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek’s Jett in the first map. Then, in the second map it was zeek time to shine. Acend had then qualified to the playoffs undefeated.

Next, in the quarter-finals, Acend faced Team Secret. Once again, cNed brough his A-game and overwhelmed Acend’s opponent. Following that, it was time for Team Liquid. The favorites were no match for Acend’s Patryk “starxo” Kopczyński and zeek. Acend, without dropping a single map in the playoffs booked their spot in the grand-finals.

Gambit, the other finalist team put much more of a fight than Acend’s previous opponents. Acend managed to hold their grounds and after losing the first map of the series, won back Ascent. However, in the third map, Gambit’s Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin completely dominated the game, and the Russians won the map with a 13 – 3 scoreline. In Icebox, Acend started well, but Gambit caught up and took the map to overtime. Still, Acend managed to survive, and Split saw Acend finishing strong while Gambit failed to find their form from past maps. With Acend taking the fifth map, they also took the first VALORANT Champions title and made history in esports.

ROCKET LEAGUE DELIVERS

When Rocket League’s Fall Split Major started, just like VALORANT, many names were thrown as favorites. From NA’s NRG who seemed to be a step above everyone to Europe’s Dignitas, there were plenty of teams with good chances coming to the event.

However, there were also a couple of underdogs. Some, like Tokyo Verdy, simply didn’t show enough to be considered contenders. Others, like Team BDS were falling through the regional rankings, and plenty doubted their chances of even making through the group stage.

BDS, however, certainly cleared a lot of these doubts. The squad performed to the best level we saw from them in 2021. Many questioned Marc “MaRc_By_8.” Domingo’s form in an offline environment, for example, but the Spaniard instead gave all Team BDS’ opponents a headache and ended the event as its MVP.

Overall, BDS surprised with its dominant form through the entire event, only dropping one game to FaZe Clan. In the grand-finals where they faced NRG, the squad once again proved that they were the team to beat in Rocket League as the game exits its online era.

NEVER DOUBT BDS

As for Team BDS’ run in the Fall Major, the squad came with humble expectations after their most recent result. From the start of the event, though, BDS put in a strong showing, and finished the Swiss stage with a 3 – 1 record, including a victory over NRG.

In the playoffs, BDS first faced Complexity. The Argentinians put a good fight, but BDS was the better team. In the semi-finals, it was time to encounter SMPR. The mostly-French team were the favorites as they had just won over Dignitas, but even so, BDS overcome them comfortably.

Finally, in the grand-finals, BDS would have a rematch against NRG, the event favorites. BDS started in a dominating form and while NRG caught up with them in the second series, it wasn’t enough. BDS left the server winning the first Rocket League LAN in almost two years.

THE FUTURE IS OFFLINE

There aren’t many things in common between both Rocket League’s Fall Major and VALORANT Champions besides the fact that they were both excellent esports experiences and both were played offline after a year of online events.

Nonetheless the future is finally looking bright for both games as the online era slowly fades away. Riot has already announced changes to its circuit going into 2022. This includes a new Japanese circuit and the return of Oceania Tour events.

As to Rocket League, Psyonix and Epic Games are still planning for another international LAN in March. However, all eyes will be on the the World Championship in Summer. Until then, though, we will still see plenty of smaller Rocket League events shaping the world rankings.

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@mjunior