Day one of the first international VALORANT event of the year saw comebacks and stomps, and day two may follow suit.
The VCT LOCK//IN tournament continues today with Karmine Corp set to face off against FunPlus Phoenix while DRX will play BBL Esports and Cloud9 will take on Paper Rex. Three of these teams will be sent home while the other three will continue in the single-elimination Alpha bracket.
Here are my predictions for today’s matches at the VCT LOCK//IN tournament.
Karmine Corp vs. FunPlus Phoenix
I’m not going to pretend I know everything about the Chinese teams coming into this event—I don’t suppose the majority of the players know much, either. Despite this, we have some relevant results to go off when it comes to the caliber of the region.
EDward Gaming, who were taken down by FunPlus Phoenix in the FGC VALORANT invitational tournament in December, took part in Champions 2022, the most prestigious event on the calendar. They had a pretty tight game against Paper Rex but were eventually defeated 2-1. Against Liquid, it got dicey in the second map, but EDG were defeated 2-0.
The problem is that we’re talking about FPX, not EDG. Both teams look relatively similar on paper in terms of skill level, but we’ve never seen FPX on the international stage, which is a lot different than regional matchups.
Karmine Corp, on the other hand, has one of the most known and prolific fraggers in FPS esports history in ScreaM, who actually took up the in-game leader role for his team. I don’t expect them to make it deep into the tournament, but this should be a win for them.
Karmine Corp has both ScreaM and Nivera, two players who have competed at the highest level in VALORANT, while Ryad “SHIN” Ensaad was brought in from the previous KCorp iteration. He looked solid considering he was playing a bunch of different agents.
Former MAD Lions player xms is on the KCorp roster, too, and he hard-carried his former team. At the last tournament he competed in, the VRL France: Revolution – Stage Two, he had the highest rating of any player with a 1.32 and a respectable 250.9 average combat score, according to VLR.gg. I expect xms to be at the forefront of the roster’s firepower.
The blue wall is nothing to scoff at, and they’ve got a decent roster to cheer for. I expect KCorp to take this match.
George’s prediction: 2-0 Karmine Corp
BBL Esports vs. DRX
DRX have a lot of eyes on them at this event. They seem to only lose against international opponents and continuously dominate the APAC region. After all, the roster is the birthchild of the infamous Vision Strikers team.
They need to perform well to break through the final hurdle that has kept them from an international trophy since their inception. Do I expect this to happen at the largest international VALORANT tournament ever held? Maybe.
DRX have a relatively easy start to the tournament, all things considered. BBL Esports are pretty middle of the pack in the EMEA region with mediocre results. If they were coming up against Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, or Fnatic, I would’ve felt different.
BBL Esports were defeated by Giants last November as their most recent match. On the other hand, DRX took part in the ONE Pro Invitational tournament in December and won both their matchups against DetonatioN FocusMe and ZETA Division.
I expect BBL Esports to put up a fight but I don’t see them taking a victory against one of the best teams in the world.
Early prediction: DRX will bomb out of this tournament after the second or third round and go on to win Masters Tokyo later this year in June. I know, pretty bold, right? Fans from across the globe can probably share my sentiment, they need to show they can hang with the very best.
Nonetheless, I expect DRX to take first blood, at the very least.
George’s prediction: 2-0 DRX
Cloud9 vs. Paper Rex
Now, this is the big one. Here’s a matchup that will see one of the best teams in North America come up against one of the best from APAC.