As the VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers kicked off with their Group Stage, the region's best teams were back in action for the first time since the Masters: Reykjavik. OG LDN UTD, a promising Lithuanian roster, made their way back to the highest level of VCT Challengers in the hopes of making it to the Stage 2 Masters.
On the tournament's opening weekend, OG LDN UTD (OGLU) took on Valorant's reigning world champion, Acend, in a best-of-three matchup. Acend kicked off the match with a victory on Icebox. However, we witnessed OGLU's attempt at utilizing Fade, the game's latest Agent, on Map 1, being the first EMEA team to do so.
OGLU put up a remarkable performance on Split to make up for their defeat on Icebox. However, after a close overtime encounter, Acend succeeded in winning Map 2 as well, thereby claiming the entire series (2-0). OGLU takes its spot at the bottom of Group A after Week 1 of VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers.
OG LDN Utd's head coach joYnt talks about their performance against Acend at VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers
In a conversation with Sportskeeda Esports' Adarsh J Kumar, OG LDN UTD's head coach, Tommaso "joYnt" Gavioli, shared his thoughts on the team's return to VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers and their expectations for the tournament.
Q: How would you fare OG LDN UTD's performance in the matchup against Acend?
joYnt: I don't think we played properly on Icebox. We didn't play the way we used to in practice. The problem is seeing enemy teams play something you're not used to playing against in practice.
They didn't do anything specifically new. Even their composition with Reyna wasn't that good, to be honest. I think there was just too much pressure, as it was the first map of the first official in two months. Obviously, it was the same for our opponents as well, but the guys at Acend have way more experience than us.
In our case, we just needed a bit of a warmup. Considering that, we should have maybe tried to play something other than Icebox. It was just a matter of warming up. We just need a bit more time to get in the mood and make it happen on Split.
On Split, I think we did really well. The communication was better. I asked the guys to be more vocal. I think the energy was at its maximum and that's a good signal for us. It means that we are`fighting even after being destroyed on Icebox. It was good to see that.
As for Acend, they're still playing similar to what they used to do, especially on Split. The composition is the same. Even though they have two new players, I think they just did exactly the same. I feel like our composition is a bit new. So for instance, on the Attackers side, we don't know exactly how to fill those gaps in the map. We were just unlucky at times, and a bit fast on the attack as well. But overall, it was good to see us playing like that.
Q: hype made his VCT debut today, and it was his first official match for OGLU as well. How do you think he performed today, and what individual quality does he bring to the squad?
joYnt: It's a new experience right now for hype to play against all these tier 1 teams, especially Acend. He used to play for Alliance, and he has played officials for really good teams. I think there's a bit more pressure playing in the VCT Challengers. Even hype needs to get in the mood to play these types of games. I think from the next game onwards, he will be much better.
To be honest, he's bringing a lot of positive vibes to the team. When it comes to practice, he has ideas and is sharing ideas. He's also trying to learn from us. Overall, it has been a really good time for the team, especially in the past two weeks, we have done really well in practice. Then again, after not playing officials for two months, it's hard. hype is a great guy. He just needs a bit more time to get into the mood of playing at the Challengers level.
Q: OG LDN UTD finds itself in perhaps the toughest out of the two groups in the VCT EMEA Challengers Group Stage. Which team from Group A are you most looking forward to playing against?
joYnt: I'm okay with playing against all the teams. I think all of them will be really good challenges for us. I'm really keen to play against G2. I really respect the team and their players, and also what their coach pipsoN has done for them. Hence, I'm really happy to play against them. Overall, I'm hyped to play against the new Fnatic roster, against FPX again, and also FOKUS at the end of the Group Stage.
I think I'm just generally really happy with this team. As you mentioned, this group is probably a bit harder than Group B. But at the end of the day, if you want to reach the Masters, you need to win against everyone, so it doesn't really matter.
Q: OGLU will be up against Fnatic in Week 2 of VCT 2022 Stage 2 EMEA Challengers. What are your thoughts on that matchup?
joYnt: We know that Fnatic have always played with a fine structure. They have problems when it comes to playing a bit more on the fly and in reading situations. Overall, I feel like it will be a really interesting match. We are a team that adapts or tries to adapt a lot. I'm just really curious to see how they fit Enzo and Alfajer into the team environment, since both are new players.
Q: In the VCT 2022 Stage 1 EMEA Challengers, LDN UTD failed to make it to the tournament's playoffs, finishing fifth in the Group Stage. How confident are you in making it to the playoffs this time around, in Stage 2 of the VCT 2022 EMEA Challengers?
joYnt: We are confident now, just as we were confident before today. The last two weeks of practice have been really good for us. I think we just need to get back into the mode of practice during the regular season. It happened in the last Challengers. This time, it's going to be different.
In the last Challengers event, they had to postpone a few matches due to the war in Ukraine, so it was hard for us to prepare properly or get into the right mode. I think we need to get back on track now and make sure we prepare for each match.
I don't think it's impossible for us to reach the playoffs or maybe even go to the Masters, which is still our objective. With the new Masters being in Copenhagen and possibly with a crowd as well, everyone is going to try more than their best and it's going to be hard for sure, but that's our goal.