It's been a hectic past few days for Valorant fans around the world, as teams from all regions are competing for one of the 10 spots for the first LAN event in the game's history, Stage 2 Masters, set to be played in Iceland.
Europe, alongside Brazil and North America, has the privilege of being one of the few regions with two spots available for Stage 2 Masters, thus, the match between Team Liquid and Fnatic has less at stake than some other regions, however, there's still a decent prize pool on the line.
Who's the favourite?
Just a few weeks ago, both teams faced each other during the Challengers 2 Finals, with Fnatic coming out on top in a relatively close match, as Liquid made Icebox a close affair (13-10) and took map 2, Ascent produced a similar result before Fnatic dominated Bind and Split to close out the series.
ScreaM, Team Liquid's crown jewel (Picture: Team Liquid)
Plenty has changed since then, including the patch in which pro Valorant is played, moving from 2.05 to 2.07, which has shaken the meta up pretty significantly, making Viper, a previously bottom-of-the-barrel pick, almost a requirement in certain compositions, with Fnatic and Liquid taking huge advantage of her buffs as they both already featured the controller pretty heavily.
One of the semifinals was notoriously one-sided as a result, with superstar Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom leading Liquid to an impressive 13-0, 13-3 victory over Oxygen Esports, showing his flexibility by playing both defensive characters like Sage but also entry-fragging as Phoenix, amassing an impressive 34 kills to just 11 death in both games.
As for Fnatic, they had a tougher time fending off Gambit Esports, ending the match with wins on Icebox 13-6, and Bind 13-11, with both Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev and Domagoj "doma" Fancev breaking the 40-kill mark.
Due to Liquid's complete stomp, Fnatic won't have a lot of tape to review when it comes to TL's setups this time around, we know Fnatic loves Icebox as they are quite dominant when it comes to rushing down sites as attackers, similarly to Liquid's style in Ascent, that sees ScreaM follow up Soulcas' Sova arrows with Phoenix flashes' to take sites.
Players to watch
We pick out two players from each team to keep an eye on during the final.
When it comes to players to watch in Team Liquid, it's hard not to take your eyes off ScreaM, the ex-CS:GO pro has been TL's star man sign he was signed to the roster and even when the team struggled ScreaM still put up ridiculous numbers. A ridiculous fragger and hugely experienced if ScreaM pops off Fnatic (or any team for that matter) would struggle to contain him.
ScreaM (pictured) is key to Team Liquid's success. (Picture: Team Liquid)
TL's roster was missing something and it was hard to put your finger on it, and then they went and signed ex-CS:GO pro Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen and it became obvious. They needed another amazing player. It's hard to put into words Jamppi's impact without coming across sort of stupid. He is just really, really good.
His ability on the AWP is up there with the best in Europe, his positioning - honed over years in CS:GO - is second to none, and his dry peaks and first bloods against FPX, the team previously considered the best in Europe, decimated them in the semifinals. Another performance of that calibre on Sunday and Fnatic have no chance.
Fnatic was always a well-drilled side that simply lacked the firepower to compete with the very best, but that changed when they signed Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev, switching between Sova and Jett, the Finnish-Russian star has been phenomenal all tournament, averaging a 1.51 K:D, he looks like he is only getting better. He has been exactly what Fnatic needed, exactly when they needed him and much of their success here and at Masters will fall on his shoulders.
The other top fragger for Fnatic is Domagoj "doma" Fancev, the Croatian has always impressed and with a few more capable bodies by his side, he has looked even better. Nominally a Raze but also occasionally picking up Sage, Doma knows how to frag out. It's not just the amount of frags either, it's when they happen, a player that rises to the occasion, Fnatic will hope he can take it to another level against TL.
Team Liquid vs Fnatic - Where to watch
You can catch all the action starting at 8 am PST / 4 pm GMT over at the official Valorant Twitch channel. We have embedded the stream down below.