From November’s flawless Swiss stage, then comfortably through groups and playoffs, EXO Clan ensured none would come close on their way to victory in the Riot Games & Fortress Melbourne tournament, claiming the AUD $8,000 winner’s purse without dropping a single map — 11 wins straight.
Chris ‘pl1xx’ Li (276.4 ACS, 135-79, +56 K/Diff) and Kyran ‘dizzyLife’ Crombie (274.7 ACS, 130-74, +56 K/Diff) combined in devastating fashion as EXO Clan looked for revenge following their defeat to ORDER at November’s Chiefs Men Expert Invitational.
Dropping just nine rounds in their quarterfinal 2-0 (13-5, 13-4) win over Wildcard Gaming, then easing past Legacy Esports 2-0 (13-6, 13-5) in the semis, EXO Clan seemingly could not be stopped on their way to First Strike glory.
ORDER overcame Legacy in the group stage 2-1 (11-13, 13-5, 13-9) in their only hiccup before the playoffs, but were pushed to the limit in their quarterfinal against Gravitas. Matthew ‘Texta’ O’Rourke (263 ACS, 22-9) saw ORDER through Haven 13-9, but were on the back foot on Split with Gravitas bouncing back on defence to hold three map points.
ORDER held on to force overtime but a clutch four-kill effort from Benjamin ‘Nerox’ Cowell (234 ACS, 26-22) levelled the series at one a piece. But multiple early defuses and a broken economy shattered Gravitas, with ORDER’s 10-2 half too much to recover from. ORDER would claim Bind 13-5, meeting Mindfreak in the semi-final.
Again it was Texta (255 ACS, 21-15) leading ORDER to a narrow 13-11 map win in the opener on Haven against Mindfreak, and another strong 10-round effort on defence on Bind locked out Mindfreak’s hopes of a comeback — ORDER securing a grand final berth with the 13-4 win.
ORDER, and formerly Team Launch, led premier event grand finals 2-1 over EXO Clan heading into the First Strike final, but you wouldn’t have thought it close after the opening map. dizzyLife (297 ACS, 20-6) & EXO Clan decimated the MEX Invitational champions 13-5 on Haven, and it wouldn’t get any better for the ORDER squad.
A 9-3 lead on Ascent was quickly converted into a 13-8 win for EXO, and with a 7-5 lead on ORDER’s pick of Bind up next, it was down to ORDER’s ever-consistent defence on the map to hold off a series sweep.
Alas, it wouldn’t be ORDER’s day; multiple resets on defence kept their economy low and EXO Clan’s multi-round wins spaced out the lead enough to secure the map, series and tournament 13-9.
A victory at First Strike comes bittersweet to EXO Clan; without question they stamped their names as Oceania’s best in an emerging VALORANT landscape, but following Riot Games’ announcement that OCE qualifiers will be bundled with North America for the VALORANT Champions Tour, the team are already seeking international offers & opportunities.
Nevertheless, even if VALORANT struggles on a regional level in Oceania, it is exploding globally, and EXO Clan have done exactly what was necessary to ensure their careers remain well and truly alive in the esport.
VALORANT First Strike: Oceania
1.) EXO Clan - $8,000 AUD
2.) ORDER - $4,000 AUD
3/4.) Legacy Esports - $2,000 AUD
3/4.) Mindfreak - $2,000 AUD
5/8.) AVANT Gaming - $1,000 AUD
5/8.) Gravitas - $1,000 AUD
5/8.) Dire Wolves - $1,000 AUD
5/8.) Wildcard Gaming - $1,000 AUD