Just like that, the inaugural Valorant Champions tournament is complete! ACEND bested Gambit Esports in the Valorant Champions Grand Finals, 3-2, to become Valorant’s first-ever world champions. From unbelievable comebacks to hero-level defensive play, ACEND vs Gambit delivered on all levels.
Gambit was the top contender given that they won the last major tournament, Masters 3. With this, other teams formulated strategies on how to counter their peculiar playstyle.
During the tournament, Gambit had some shaky performances that led them to have multiple 2-1 series en route to the grand final. Teams like X10C and KRU Esports surprised Gambit since they managed to take at least one map from them. This happened every time from the group stages until the semi-finals.
Overall, they had a shaky performance up to the champions grand finals but they managed to pull through.
The question leading into Champions was if the other members of ACEND can now step up and remove the name “CNed and friends”.
Also, people considered ACEND to be ‘chokers’ who couldn’t close out important series. In a previous tournament, they infamously bottled a commanding 8-4 lead against 100 Thieves. This continued on the group stages where they had to replay Breeze where they almost lost a 7-0 lead
Nevertheless, they entered Champions with guns blazing, losing only one map en route to the final.
Before the matchup, there was a pick and ban of maps that was held to decide which maps would be played on the grand finals. Gambit picked Breeze and Fracture, meanwhile, ACEND chose Ascent and Icebox. Split ended up as the deciding map for the Championship game. The map bans for the game were Bind for Gambit, and Haven for ACEND.
Map 1: Breeze
With map 1 starting, ACEND initially won the pistol round and went up 2-0 for their bonus round. Coming into the bonus round for ACEND, Zeek did one of the best clutches of the tournament with a 2 v 4 retake on A site. This snowballed to a lead of 9 – 3 for ACEND. But, it all came crashing down for ACEND as Chronicle and Nats led Gambit to a comeback on the defensive side, ending with a score of 13 – 11 favoring Gambit.
Map 2: Ascent
For the second map ascent ACEND finally managed to hold on to their first-half lead of 7-5. They never looked back as they closed out the map with a final score of 13-7. This brought a sigh of relief for ACEND as they finally managed to secure a map after leading both maps at halftime.
Map 3: Fracture
With Fracture it was a whole new story as Gambit came out with a dominant start of 11-1 on the attacking side, and closed out the map with a final score of 13-3. Gambit felt that they were very close to the championship after this map. On the other hand, ACEND’s morale was shattered. That’s when Zeek said to his teammates “Guys wake the f*** up”
Map 4: Icebox
Icebox was by far the most thrilling map out of all 5 since this one went to overtime. Gambit held the lead in the final rounds but ACEND rallied back to force it to overtime. Starxo won them the overtime with his double kill after his push from the middle of the map. From that momentum, they managed to close out the map 14-12.
Map 5: Split
With ACEND tying up the series 2-2, they started out the half with a 7-5 lead and held on until they closed out the game with a final score of 13-8. At a score of 10 – 8, Zeek delivered a crucial Showstopper right into Nats. This led them to break the economy of Gambit. This caused them to not be able to fully buy for all of their members for the rest of the map.
With Champions Grand Finals being done, Europe, Middle-East, and Africa (EMEA) now sit as the best region right as both finalists came from that region. Additionally, ACEND can no longer be called “CNED and friends” as everyone did their part in winning this tournament.