The clock has struck midnight on the APAC representatives’ dream run.
BRAZIL – Team Liquid Brazil have eliminated Team SMG in fourth place after coming out on top of a three-map lower semi-final to eventually book the second and final grand final berth. This win grants the Brazilian the final berth in the grand final, where they will face off against heavy tournament favorites Shopify Rebellion in a best-of-five series for the second GCC title and the US$180,000 grand prize that comes with it.
Despite their recent loss, Team SMG can take great pride in their performance throughout the season and go home with their heads held high, demonstrating an impressive ability to consistently compete at a top level as they close out the 2023 season with 36 wins and only 2 losses.
“This marks the end of us. I did my best to hold on until the end though I did fall off a little.” Kohaibi said of SMG’s run at the tournament following the defeat. “Very grateful for everything this year, good or bad. Will take a rest for my own mental and physical health I’ve set aside throughout the entire year.”
The journey of Team SMG, led by Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong, began earlier this year with a significant revamp of their roster. Centered around the Singaporean in-game leader, the team welcomed on board a talented Filipino trio – Alexandria “Alexy” Francisco, Camille “Kamiyu” Enriquez, and Kelly “shirazi” Jaudian. Additionally, Odella “enerii” Abraham joined the team in the middle of the Open stage to further bolster the team’s competitive edge.
The team won everything there was to win on the women’s APAC VALORANT scene and kicked off the São Paulo event in shocking fashion, first dispatching NA’s first seed Evil Geniuses GC in a dominating fashion and later on KRÜ BLAZE in their first lower bracket match to progress further in the tournament.
Their only defeats came at the hands of the eventual finalists, G2 Gozen and Team Liquid Brazil. In each of these matches, the APAC representatives won the first map but could not maintain their lead in the subsequent two maps. APAC couldn’t have had a better team to represent the region.
In their lower semi-final match, Team SMG got off to a solid start on their map pick of Haven, securing a victory with a score of 13-9. This initial success increased the pressure on Team Liquid Brazil, especially as their opponent had another stellar start on the defending side of their own map pick of Bind. However, Team Liquid Brazil found their stride, winning a critical series of five rounds following their first gun round. This shift in dynamics allowed the Brazilian team to control the game, limiting Team SMG to only five more rounds before evening the series with a 13-7 series on Bind.
Having won both of their previous encounters on Bind, including one against defending champions G2 Gozen, Team SMG were likely confident going into the decider, but the map quickly ran away from them. Despite getting the first step of winning the pistol round, Team SMG failed to get map control and struggled economically as the Brazilian stepped up and locked down approaches. The first-half score ended 8-4 in favor of Team Liquid, which was already generous as the APAC side snatched the final two rounds.
Team SMG made a grand effort in an attempt to come back on the back of solid output from enerii on the offense, but they were too far behind and Team Liquid Brazil were able to find the one necessary round they needed to clinch the title decider. The Indonesian player was in top form from the beginning as the team’s main duelist, getting some of the most important rounds and ultimately finishing the game as the only player from SMG with a positive K/D ratio.
Cover photo courtesy of Adela Sznajder/Riot Games