EMEA juggernauts FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) have been crowned as the champions of the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Stage 2 Masters tournament in Copenhagen, Denmark after they outlasted Singaporean powerhouse Paper Rex in the grand finals, 3-2, on Sunday (24 July).
As the APAC Stage 2 Challengers champions, Paper Rex earned a direct seed to the Masters Copenhagen playoffs. They made good use of this advantage, sweeping Guild Esports and Fnatic to cruise into the upper bracket finals against Masters Reykjavik champions OpTic Gaming.
Paper Rex then defeated OpTic in a heated 2-1 series to become the first team in the Masters Copenhagen grand finals.
Meanwhile, FPX started the tournament from the group stage, defeating Thailand's XERXIA in the opening match of Group B before falling to South Korea's DRX in the Winner's Match. FPX then defeated Japan's Northeption in the group's decider match to qualify for the playoffs.
FPX had a rough start to the playoffs, as they got swept by regional rivals Fnatic in the upper bracket quarterfinals.
FPX caught a second wind in the lower bracket and eliminated Guild Esports and DRX to get a rematch with Fnatic in the lower bracket semifinals. They outlasted their regional rivals in a 2-1 thriller to advance to the lower bracket finals against OpTic.
FPX then routed OpTic, 3-1, to earn the right to challenge Paper Rex for the Masters Copenhagen title.
Game One: Bind
The grand finals started on PRX’s map pick, Bind, where FPX immediately took the opening pistol round.
As a counter-offensive, Paper Rex started with their trademark hyper-aggressiveness by coming down heavily at FPX one by one.
Unfortunately for them, FPX was just as prepared to counter that aggressiveness with passiveness of all things, ultimately just biding their time and waiting for the Singaporean squad to attack them.
This, combined with FPX superstars Andrey “Shao” Kiprsky and Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin taking the lead at the aim duels and perfectly lining up enemies, helped FPX take an astounding 11-round lead.
It wouldn’t be until round 12 that Paper Rex would be able to score their first round, leading into a 11-1 score at half-time.
By the second half, FPX would take the pistol round again off the back of a Shao clutch, but PRX would quickly answer by converting the eco round.
PRX would take round 15 as well, but a smooth 4k from IGL Kyrylo “ANGE1” Karasov would close the map at 13-3 to win the match.
Game two: Icebox
Eager to make a comeback, Paper Rex started game two at Icebox more strongly by winning the opening pistol and eco rounds.
FPX answered by winning the bonus round, but with the APAC champions finally playing like they usually do, the team went on a four-round streak to put themselves in the lead this time.
Wang “Jinggg” Jing Jie, in particular, pulled off the first ace in the series at round 6 as he went around and picked off FPX one-by-one.
This put FPX in a particularly difficult position, as Paper Rex took a comfortable 6-1 lead thanks to its superstars.
Fortunately for FPX, they were still able to cut the lead before half-time, trading rounds before Khalish “d4v41” Rusyaidee got the better of Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks in the chamber battle to put them at 9-3.
PRX carried that momentum in round two, winning the pistol round before FPX won the second crucial eco and bonus round.
Ultimately however, Paper Rex took on a more comfortable stride and closed the map at 13-7, tying the series at 1-1.
Game Three: Fracture
Once again, Paper Rex won the opening pistol and eco rounds while FPX won the bonus and first gun round, perfectly countering the former’s hyper-aggression.
As FPX found their groove again, the team took the lead at 4-2, and would continue trading rounds with PRX.
Paper Rex's playstyle paid off as well, as the team managed to win six rounds in the first half, tying the score at 6-6 come halftime.
The second half started with FPX winning the pistol round, before Shao clutched the eco round to secure the team’s economy.
PRX responded by winning the bonus round, as the team started playing defense.
Unfortunately for them, that would be their only win in the second half, as FPX would follow it with five consecutive round wins with SUYGETSU leading the charge to win the map at 13-7, putting the series at 2-1.
Game Four: Haven
As the closest map yet in the series, Haven began with both teams trading rounds off the back of multiple thriftys from each side.
While PRX stopped this back and forth to take a small lead at 3-2, FPX said no by clawing right back and tying it again at 3-3.
With both of their economies in a weird place, PRX and FPX would continue to claw at each other’s throats, with none of the teams able to take control of the game.
Despite that, PRX would still eventually take the lead by halftime at 7-5.
But, while the Singaporean squad struggled to keep FPX at bay during their defensive play, the second half put them at an advantage by putting them on the attacking side.
This style worked to perfection, as the APAC champions took firm control of the map thanks to a 1v2 clutch from Aaron “mindfreak” Leonhart.
After calling a timeout, FPX was able to finally secure a round on the attacking side.
Unfortunately for them, it was a little too late for a comeback.
As PRX continued to play aggressively, the EMEA squad failed to provide any real counter-offensive as the Singaporean squad closed Haven at 13-7, tying the series at 2-2.
Game five: Breeze
As the final game of the series, it was do-or-die for both teams.
To that end, FPX started strong, going 3-0 up after converting the opening pistol, eco, and bonus round.
Unfortunately for them, a misread in the first gun round allowed PRX to score their first on the board, eventually reversing FPX’s lead into a 5-3 in favor of PRX.
Of course, FPX wasn’t about to just let it happen, so the EMEA squad responded with a four-round streak of their own via multiple clutches to close the first half at 5-7, in favor of them.
PRX started the second half strongly, winning the pistol, eco, and bonus round to put them in a very comfortable position in the map.
But, just as the momentum swung in their way again with another round win, FPX hit back hard by changing to a more explosive playstyle.
It was at this point that FPX star ardiis came alive alongside SUYGETSU to help the EMEA squad go on a winning five-round streak that left PRX with their backs on the wall.
Then, with a swift 4k, SUYGETSU closed out the map at 13-9 to give FPX the 3-2 finals victory.
With their victory, FunPlus Phoenix claimed the Masters Copenhagen championship as well as the grand prize of US$200,000 and 1,000 VCT circuit points.
Meanwhile, Paper Rex bow out with a respectable second place finish and with US$120,000 and 750 circuit points in consolation.
For everything you need to know about Masters Copenhagen, check here.
FunPlus Phoenix roster:
Kyrylo "ANGE1" Karasov
Andrey "Shao" Kiprsky
Pontus "Zyppan" Eek
Dmitry "SUYGETSU" Ilyushin
Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks
Paper Rex roster:
Aaron "mindfreak" Leonhart
Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto
Benedict "Benkai" Tan
Khalish "d4v41" Rusyaidee
Jing Jie "Jinggg" Wang
Feb has been trying to speedrun Super Mario 64 ever since he started playing video games at 11 years old. He has never succeeded, but has completed other video games in the time since. When not playing, he's usually playing music or building Gunpla.