This article is part of our VALORANT series.
VCT Stage 2 playoffs are here, with the best teams in North America and Europe clashing for their spots at VCT Masters. Stage 2 has already been one of the most surprising in the history of VALORANT, with North American champions The Guard failing to qualify for playoffs, while Europe saw their top international team, G2, finish dead last in Group A. Here's some players to target, and fade, in the VCT Stage 2 playoffs.
Players to Target
It's hard to trust NiSMO as a fantasy asset. Ghost Gaming is one of the biggest unknowns in VCT North America. This roster had accomplished little before this stage, and yet here they stand with the top ACS of any team, mainly on the back of NiSMO and his 1.37 rating across the group stage. Those sort of numbers are simply ridiculous and make NiSMO an immediate fantasy target. The only concern for the indomitable duelist is his bracket run, taking on Evil Geniuses Round 1. With the prospect of a match against reigning VCT Masters champions OpTic Gaming in Round 2, the road doesn't get much harder for NiSMO. If he is able to lead his team on an upper-bracket run this could immediately become one of the most impressive performances in North American VALORANT.
Time to take a look at the other side of the Round 1 match between Evil Geniuses and Ghost Gaming, this time with EG's star jawgemo. There are two players with an ACS over 260 throughout the group stage in North America -- NiSMO (269) and jawgemo (263). Those two tallies are incredible, and should point towards an amazing opening round match. jawgemo has played Raze and Jett for the most part, though he can be flexible when required. The concerns around NiSMO come right back for jawgemo as yay and OpTic Gaming await the winner of EG and Ghost in Round 2, giving jawgemo potential matches against the first and third highest rated players in North America in the first two rounds, a run that could give jawgemo the chance to establish himself as North America's best.
Does anyone remember when Derke played poorly in Fnatic's opening match against OG LDN Utd and many wondered if his role swap to Chamber was worth it? It seems those questions have been answered with aplomb. 1.35 rating (best in Europe) and 266.9 ACS (second best behind Alfajer's 271.9) seem to indicate that the best player in the world is doing just fine. Fnatic crumbled in VCT Masters: Reykjavik without Derke and it's clear why. Derke is one of the best players in the world and it's not particularly close. Whether he's on Chamber, Raze or Jett, the Finnish phenom will take over any map against any opponent. Fnatic open their tournament against the winner of FunPlus Phoenix and Team Liquid, both teams Fnatic will be heavy favorites against.
Players to Fade
The newest member of Team Liquid finds himself in the 'Players to Fade' section immediately and it's no mystery why. Coming from the worst team in Europe many were confused by the pickup of Dreamas, though the idea was that he could fill a role for the team that already had plenty of firepower from ScreaM, Jamppi, and NiverA. Dreamas has filled that role and Team Liquid have done well, but individually Dreamas has been awful. Across the stage he ended with a 0.79 rating and 155.2 ACS. Those numbers simply aren't good enough heading into a playoff match with the reigning European champions, FunPlus Phoenix.'
Mistic has been the unfortunate victim of Fnatic's newfound dominance in Europe. With Alfajer and Derke taking over every map and Enzo providing a true third firepower option for Fnatic there's simply slim pickings for Mistic, a player who already struggled for individual performance. Across the stage Mistic ended with a 0.95 rating and 182.2 ACS. Those aren't awful numbers by any means, but on a Fnatic team looking to win VCT EMEA Stage 2, there's stronger options, even from in-game leader Boaster. Mistic and co. are favorites for the trophy, but unless the smokes and support player finds the form of his life there are simply better players to target, even on Fnatic, with Enzo and Boaster.
Reformed has led his team to an unprecedented level of success in Stage 2 and there is nothing to take away from him there. Individually he simply hasn't produced though, with a 0.87 rating and 161.0 ACS so far in VCT North America Stage 2, Reformed just hasn't shown the level needed to earn a spot in fantasy rosters. Evil Geniuses open the tournament against Ghost Gaming, who have their own weak support with brawk, who will likely join Reformed at the bottom of the scoreboard throughout the match. With OpTic Gaming waiting in the wings for the winner it's best to avoid Reformed who will likely struggle throughout the tournament, even if Evil Geniuses go on a deep run.