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VALORANT Champions Tour 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo kicked off its opening match between two tournament favorites. With a total of six international victories across 10 players, the matchup between Americas NRG and EMEA’s KOI held a lot of gravity in regard to what we could expect for the remainder of the tournament.

 Built around franchise cornerstone s0m, NRG acquire the former OpTic Gaming trio of Austin “crashies” Roberts, Pujan “FNS” Mehta, and Victor “Victor” Wang. That lineup was topped off by former FunPlus Phoenix duelist Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks as they entered the tournament as North America’s superteam. Meanwhile, the side of KOI was stacked with a number of former champions like Bogdan “Sheydos” Naumov and Patryk “starxo” Kopczyński.

NRG mount a comeback on Icebox to grab game one


NRG's franchise cornerstone s0m was the star of Icebox

The members of KOI dominated the first half as NRG struggled to deal with Berkant “Wolfen” Joshkun’s mid-control on Jett, as well as strong first-half performances from Nikita “trexx” Cherednichenko and sheydos. However, things shifted toward NRG once they were on Attack on Icebox as the 9-3 curse shined bright over KOI. In the second half, KOI struggled against all of NRG’s advances as they could not keep up with NRG’s strategies, as well as a second-half boost from crashies.

NRG eliminate KOI after a strong showing on Haven

As both teams went into the second map on Haven, NRG continued their strong form seen at the end of Icebox as they soared to an 8-4 first half on Haven off the back of strong performances from crashies and ardiis. While it started to get troublesome for NRG in the second half when the map score was tied 8-8, there was no 9-3 curse to stop NRG from closing out the series. NRG soon after strung together a grouping of very strong rounds as the game and series were capped off by a clutch frag from Victor.

Shortly after the match, FNS spoke about the entire series against KOI where he held a jovial stance on their first game on Icebox. In the postgame scrum, he joked that the former OpTic trio, "always start 7-1 down on Icebox apparently at almost every LAN" that they have been to. However, what surprised him the most was the performances of both s0m and ardiis after facing the pressure on Icebox.

"I was actually surprised," FNS added when speaking about s0m and ardiis. "They are very calm. Their ideas are still being communicated. We knew that we kind of just needed that one spark of momentum to get us going.”

Throughout the postgame scrum FNS continued to highlight s0m's confidence throughout the series, a player many viewers had reservations about going into VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo.

“He’s doing great. I mean, he’s listening to everything we’re saying. He’s very confident in himself and he has his own ability (that) he’s aware of that and is able to use it,” FNS confidently stated about s0m before continuing. “For a rookie on LAN in this game, it’s very important to me that he is capable of doing that. It shows me that he has a lot of growth left in him.”

NRG’s franchise star Sam “s0m” Oh was the star of map one on Icebox as he was the consistent fragger NRG needed to keep them in the game after a tough 3-9 first half. There were many questions about how s0m would mesh into this superteam, but his first game with this new NRG lineup strongly answered doubters. By the end of Icebox, s0m netted a 295 Average Combat Score, a 24/13/4 KDA, and a server-leading 1.42 Rating to lead NRG to a game-one victory.

With their first LAN match as a new group of five behind them, NRG will move forward into the next stage of VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo. There, they will face either Giants or DetonatioN FM in the round of 16.

Where to watch VCT LOCK//IN?

VCT LOCK//IN São Paulo is officially underway as 32 teams have begun their quest for the first trophy of 2023. You can watch the action unfold on VCT's Twitch and YouTube channels.