It’s been more than a week since the launch of the VCT Lock//In event in Brazil. With teams from all around the world taking part in a single-elimination tournament. The stakes were quite high for each team. One loss and you are packing your bags back to your nation. As such the pressure and hype for the first game of the tournament were through the roof. While the game was quite the rollercoaster we got to see NRG and KOI Esports show off their skills in the game.
NRG were the clear favorites to win this match-up. This could be due to them having quite an experienced core of players. This is while you compare to their opponents KOI Esports. While NRG consists of the main core of the famous Optic lineup back in 2022. So, how well did the two teams perform in the first matchup against one another?
KOI vs. NRG Icebox
NRG started up with a no-duelist team composition, while Koi had a Jett in their lineup. While the no-duelist core has been quite active during maps such as Icebox, some teams also fielded a three-initiator composition in the past. While on attack Koi simply demonstrated why they were a team to reckon with. Instigating quirky plays all over the map; mainly focusing on the B site to plant in each round. One could see multiple variations on the Sage walls being used before a plant. NRG while on the back foot tried their best to claw some rounds in their favor by winning their eco round during the 5th round of the game.
While the attack for KOI ended with a score of 9-3 in favor of them. It simply seemed as if this map was a closed book. Due to the impressive manner in which Koi had been placing and pacing themselves each round, it would seem that NRG could not mount a comeback. Well, this is where the experience of playing in other international tournaments came in clutch for them. NRG started their Pistol rounds in the most aggressive manner one could expect. Immediately with s0m playing in the most absurd off angles as well as on flank during the plant supporting his team. And then immediately found the gap in the KOI defense. This impressive performance of s0m could be capped with his ace as well on the attack.
The 9-3 Curse In Full Force
With s0m in the front line cooking one of his best performances to date, there was carnage by NRG all around. Koi Esports didn’t realize what hit them during their defense. While NRG focuses on laying map control at different parts of the map during the start of the round. Winning 4 rounds on the bounce the score was 9-7 in the favor of Koi. Koi, realizing that they were on the back foot, started to play more passively. This could be attributed to their strategies of playing on the offense backfiring each time.
This allowed NRG to plant with ease while Koi Esports crumbled big time during the retake. While only being successful a total of a single time during their entire defensive half. This resulted in NRG pulling off an incredible comeback on the map of Icebox, ending the game 13-11. The major takeaway from this map was how crucial having a strong mentality is. While not having a good first half of the map, NRG shrugged it off, refusing to allow it to affect the next half, instead playing the game in the manner they wanted and showing just how effective they are. Also being in a similar competitive environment was quite crucial to helping NRG win the first map of the tournament.
Ascent Was A Game Of Two Distinct Halves
While NRG started this map on the attack we could see their ideology during this map. With both teams having a mirror composition against the other. KOI took the first round of the map with ease, being able to defuse the bomb. But with faith against them losing against the eco round of NRG. This resulted at the beginning of the landslide by NRG. While also another tendency which was seen by Koi was the save. On the map of the icebox, we did see some of the players of Koi deciding to save their guns instead of engaging in the retake. While this tendency was in full flow. If there was a round where Koi felt they couldn’t retake the site, they simply saved their weapons.
This resulted in there being situations where 2 or more players were saving their weapons instead of engaging in the retake. This caused quite a bit of doubt in the eyes of many fans; who know Koi for their aggressive playstyle, as they watched the passive performance. The first half of the map ended 8-4 in favor of NRG.
The second half is when it all changed. Koi Esports realizing this would be their last map in the tournament if they lost, went in all guns blazing. Getting 4 rounds on the bounce resulted in the score being level at 8-8. While seeming as if the momentum has now shifted towards Koi, NRG switched on their elite mentality. Taking the next 5 rounds out of the 6, resulting in NRG winning against Koi Esports, 2-0.