Acend’s win in the VALORANT Champions Tour Europe Masters event was anything but expected considering the teams that they faced at the event. They rose to the occasion, beating more favored teams such as FunPlus Phoenix in the semifinal and Team Heretics in the final.
Nobody really expected Acend to win Masters, which actually worked out in their favor.
“Coming into Masters as an underdog team was very advantageous for everyone in the team,” Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi told Nerd Street. “We really didn’t feel any pressure at any point in the tournament. We got to play our own game and didn’t have anything to lose. We really took everyone by surprise.”
Not only did their underdog status contribute to their win, but their previous losses did too.
“During the Challengers 2 qualifiers, we lost to Cream Real Betis. They’re a good team but we expected to beat them, so when we lost, it messed up our mental game,” Acend’s coach Laurynas “Nbs” Kisielius said. “Losing that match helped us a lot because, after every loss, we have sessions with our mental coach to help us get back in the right mindset. Without that, I’m sure we would have lost.”
The win is even more impressive because just two days prior to their first Masters match, the team switched organizations from Raise Your Edge Gaming to Acend. Such a sudden move before one of the most important VALORANT tournaments of the year might affect some rosters, but not Acend’s. According to Nbs, the team kept chugging along as if nothing happened, focusing on practicing for the upcoming matches with zero negative effects.
Nbs has a somewhat unique approach to coaching during practice. He listens to the players’ ideas a lot and takes more of a “laid back” role, with team captain Jose Luis “koldamenta” Aranguren Herrero being the strict leader on the team. Both Nbs and koldamenta work together to come up with strategies for the team, with BONECOLD chiming in as well due to this previous in-game leader role.
Judging by their results, this team dynamic has worked very well for them. Even with their tournament win, Acend are staying humble and plan to keep up with the same practice regimen they’ve had since before Masters.
“We knew games would be played late at night, so before the qualifier, we had practice scrimmages at the same time as the qualifier would be. We got used to it and worked on our endurance by playing five games in a row,” BONECOLD said.
Acend earned 100 circuit points at Masters, which are needed to qualify for the VALORANT Champions tournament at the end of the year. If everything goes well in their Stage 2 Challengers matches, Acend will have the opportunity to represent Europe at the next Masters tournament. The next Masters is set to take place in Reykjavík, Iceland, in May, and it will be an international LAN.
When asked about what such an opportunity means to him, BONECOLD did not hesitate to call it an “honor” especially since his team would be among the first to win Masters and attend a VALORANT LAN event. Nbs hopes that they will be able to find an analyst before then to give the team more time to focus on practice rather than spending time analyzing other teams’ playstyles.
Acend are already thinking about what teams they would like to face if they qualify for the next Masters. For Nbs, that team is the undefeated Vision Strikers as he admires the Koreans’ work ethic and wants a shot at ending their win streak. BONECOLD, on the other hand, wants to face Sentinels and believes that the match would be “pure chaos.”
Before turning their attention to the next Masters, Acend will need to compete in VCT Stage 2. They’ll be back in action this week for Europe’s Challengers 1 open qualifiers beginning Tuesday.
Lead image credit: Riot Games