Liquid’s Travis ‘L1NK’ Mendoza dismissed the cross-regional rivalry between NA and EU, seeing off Cloud9 Blue at Valorant Champions two days after Sentinels’ shock exit from the group stage.
Valorant Champions 2021 has been a tale of two stories for the game’s major regions, EMEA and North America. As all four European teams flourish, NA sides are already “Near Airport” and heading home, with Cloud9 finally sent packing by Liquid in the quarterfinals.
C9 came into the event as its region’s third seed and continued its international tradition (at least in League of Legends) of being the last NA rep standing. Meanwhile, Fnatic, ACEND, Gambit, and Liquid topped all four groups in Berlin to advance to the knockout stage.
As spectators scratch their heads reasoning with NA’s performance, the biggest gap is clear to L1NK: EU wants to win, while NA lacks the hunger.
“NA wants to stream, EU wants to win”
The Team Liquid support player was surprised by his competition. When considering EU’s dominance at Champs, he attributed the region’s success to one thing: “Practicing.”
“Even when Sentinels got here, I swear TenZ said he woke up at 4PM and started streaming,” L1NK told Dexerto. “It obviously came to bite him in the ass a bit.
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“I really think that’s it. I think we just practice a lot harder. We want it a lot harder. They want to stream, we want to win.”
Sentinels have been the benchmark of Valorant supremacy for much of 2021, the inaugural year of Riot’s international circuit. But they were the first NA team to be eliminated in a shock loss to KRU Esports. They were soon followed by Envy in groups, losing to SEA side X10 CRIT.
Cloud9 managed to make it one stage further to quarters, but only one Top 8 finish out of a region which many touted as the best in the world six months ago is a far fall from grace.
Though both regions are typically lauded for the resources they can provide its Valorant pros, it’s clear Europe has been trending in the right direction since NA’s time in the spotlight after Reykjavik.
Liquid are more than just ScreaM: L1NK
Even Team Liquid, who can settle a game behind raw firepower from Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom and Elias ‘Jamppi’ Olkkonen alone, were willing to get uncomfortable in the quarters against C9.
“Maybe going into certain positions that we usually aren’t so comfortable with or maybe avoid,” he said, explaining how they stole C9’s map pick. “We just played the map slightly differently.”
TL had a much lower win percentage on Bind (33%) than C9B (100%) did in the same span coming into the match. Still, the EMEA LCQ victors still found a way to win.
ScreaM’s game-high 224.5 ADR and 26 kills certainly helped Liquid’s prospects. Even so, Liquid’s decision to put him on Reyna broke from the team’s go-to pick for him on Bind, Jett.
In fact, the “brother buff” between ScreaM and Nabil ‘Nivera’ Benrlitom was firing on all cylinders, especially on the decider, Ascent, where they combined for 44 kills.
“Yeah, [I can feel the synergy between them] especially when they’re in a 2v2 and they start speaking French with each other,” L1NK said, giving an impression of the brothers’ comms. “I don’t even know what’s going on [when they speak French]. But I’m like ‘yeah, this is what I like to hear.'”
For those rounds where Liquid needs more than the Benrlitom Brothers, however, the team can rely on its “unsung hero”, Jamppi.
“I feel like Jamppi is a bit like the unsung hero,” L1NK said. “I see a lot of doubt on Jamppi. I haven’t heard much about people maybe mentioning Jamppi but he’s super impactful. You watch him sometimes and you think ‘this guy’s the real deal.’”
Liquid will take on Acend in their Valorant Champions 2021 semifinals matchup on December 11