Valorant: quick review, first competitive play on Ascent (Fordon Boars vs Worst Players)
So: Ascent now exists as a map in Valorant. As it happens, thanks to the fine folks at Absolute Legends, we’ve actually ended up getting a reasonably high-level game on it prior to the start of Twitch Rivals tomorrow — game 1 of the Fordon Boars vs Worst Players Bo3 was played on it. In that light, think it’s worth having a quick scan through it.
Who are these teams?
Fordon Boars are a stack formed around Izak, briefly a relevant player in the Polish Source/CS:GO scene, but more famous as a caster, streamer, and org owner (the eponymous Izako Boars). The other four players are all from the Polish CS scene, with two (NEEX and Patitek) having played for Izako Boars previously. They pulled off a decent upset last week, taking down VALORANDO and Absolute Legends to get out of groups at Epulze Valorant Prodigies (the strongest EU tournament yet), and will be one of the few teams to be able to play as a full 5 at Twitch Rivals (they’re in group B of Europe #2 and are presumptive favourites to get out in first as it stands).
Worst Players are a CIS stack, in contention for the best from that area in closed beta (I had them second behind Party Parrots), headlined by dimasick of AVANGAR and Gambit repute in CS:GO. They, too, sprung a big upset in Epulze, taking down HyPHyPHyP (a top-3 team in closed beta otherwise), and also have some decent showings at the TL Academy series of tournaments. They will also be playing in Europe #2 at Twitch Rivals as a five, in Group C.
Neither of these teams are ranked too highly in either my own rankings (I had both outside the top 10, though Worst Players were knocking on the door) or Prodigy’s rankings (Worst Players #47, Fordon Boars not listed), but both showed up well at Epulze (which isn’t really factored into either ranking anyway), so this was a pretty good matchup. It was a Bo3, and I won’t spoil the overall result if you haven’t already seen it (mainly because I haven’t even seen it myself yet).
Should note to start out here: Fordon not running Cypher here isn’t as earthshaking as it seems, this is just something that they (in my opinion, quite defensibly) don’t automatically do unlike most teams, running it once in eight maps at Absolute Masters and Epulze.
Beyond that…Worst Players running a pretty standard setup, taking the Sage/Cypher/Brimstone meta trifecta, and using Sova and Breach in the last couple of spots, while Fordon employ Reyna (also obviously a first in competitive play) and Jett.
Not too much to say here for now; it’s been a couple of days, agent select is always just going to be a question of comfort at this point, though where the teams are effectively porting over their agent setups from is a little bit worthy of note. For the record, WP run this five on Bind, while the non-Reyna four is most typically a Haven setup for Fordon Boars; I’m a little surprised that nobody’s doing as they would on Split, since my initial feel had it feeling the most similar, but with how open mid in particular is here, I can see the case for trying out the Jett pick in particular.
Round 1 (pistol)
Fordon push to secure B tunnel, ultimately get trapped by the triple-stack, all die. As can often be the case, tend to think that B tunnel alone might make the case for Cypher on this map, honestly; you absolutely have to give enough contest on that tunnel as the defending team to make them fear a 1:38 first blood, and his whole thing of being the defensive guy who doesn’t get rushed comes into its own with how that entrance works.
Round 3 (first rifle round)
Fordon creep three up on mid here. There is absolutely going to be a lot of early Split syndrome with this map — mid is a) incredibly open in general, b) has two straight-up symmetric sniper duel angles running across it, so it’s not going to shock me to see a lot of 3v3s early on here.
Despite giving up the opening entry, and in general taking an approach here that I’m not sure I like (playing very, very far back on mid) Worst Players do take the round here, and roll up to 4–0.
As a note: you’ve pretty much seen what you’re going to see from WP’s defensive defaults here. Sage is always A, the other four move around a bit but are roughly in those positions. On Breach-Sova mid: I wouldn’t be shocked if this is the crossing pattern that a lot of teams use, at least with Sova for maximum vision utility, but it feels a little underwhelming; just doesn’t feel like you get much out of Breach flashes, particularly from A side (and you do probably want him A side if you’re going to use him because of his E). Inclined to say Sova-Viper might actually be really interesting honestly (with Sova A and Viper B).
Round 5 (first round Fordon wins)
This is why I don’t like how far back WP are playing — it takes some time and movement, but Fordon are able to just walk it up mid here after a while, and it while it’s not clean (and NEEX has to get a 4K with his Operator), they’re able to pretty handily take the round in the end here.
This, incidentally, is where the game really starts turning. WP’s Cypher moves his equipment over to mid next round — it does nothing because Fordon are able to get the entry when WP check B tunnel, they take B site, 4–2. Next round, Fordon again move up an empty mid, but they make mistakes on the A entry and do drop it, but after that, they’re again and again able to either creep up a deeply-guarded mid into A and/or entry/lurk B. They end the half out 6–6 (to reiterate, after starting 0–4).
Scoreboard at the half:
Things to note: dimasick’s Cypher swept up early, but stutted towards the end of the half. Patitek’s Reyna…didn’t do too much, actually. She started pretty much every round out at Mid Top (i.e. A side), and presumably the idea was to hold the eye for her own peek or a team push, but…I get the idea, but I almost feel like the eye works better in shorter/mid-range settings to be honest (and also, on someone who is more aggressively entrying, whereas Patitek was playing her out as a secondary Operator/Marshal usually). But, again, this isn’t really a Reyna episode.
Round 13 (pistol round)
Worst Players stack A, Fordon run a 2–1–2. I like it a lot on Fordon’s side — pistols are always going to be quick, and while losing mid control here is lethal on rifles, the actual rotations onto sites are slow enough that I don’t think I’m losing too much sleep over it on pistols. That being said, WP win fairly handily (they rotate mid at about 1:15 after NEEX gets baited into rotating off, take her down when she comes back in, and walk through izak/saju to plant on B).
Round 14 (eco win for Fordon)
Figured it’s worth at least diagramming out, but really, this was just a very poor execution by WP more than anything else — take mid control, apply no pressure on either side, nowhere to go after they get mid control, and fail to force through, giving Fordon two free rounds.
Round 16 (rifle round)
Reyna/Sage crossing mid on D — strong testicles absolutely required here, but it works out well. We actually have a nice snapshot of the buy here:
Presumably they realised this, so saju was able to confidently peek through. That said, this round is all NEEX — this is the map at 1:25:
Goes 2-for-1 on the tunnel, and saju comes round to finish the job.
From here, Worst Players don’t get a single round to finish the game, but let’s look at a couple of other rounds quickly.
This is pretty much what Worst Players ended up having to deal with overall — always at least one sniper on mid, sometimes two; a situation where they never themselves got to snipe; and in the end they felt compelled to try forces like this even on rifle rounds.
Round 20 (final round)
Finale is an ugly force on mid, completely ignoring B tunnel…which you just should not ever do here, because it lets izak push through and ensure that they can be pretty much just trapped in mid. They frag well and get it down to a 1v1, but dimasick can’t pull out the clutch against phr, and that’s game.
So, key notes I would take with regards to how Ascent is likely to play out early on, and what players/teams/fans/etc. should probably be watching for:
* With the sightlines in mid, and the importance of holding B tunnel for the defending team, this is absolutely a map that teams are going to want to be bring at least one and often two Operators to the table on, which…obviously, we have seen two-Op setups elsewhere, but I think this is probably the map where the existence of that sort of strategy can warp play more than any other, and I think there’s a good chance that teams have to start making economic adjustments for it (i.e. doing forces on round 2 and ecoing round 3 on a loss to get Operators for round 4).
* Defensive defaults are hence I think going to tend to be 1 A, 2 mid, 2 B, with a mid player sometimes flexing over to effectively make it 3 B. This might change if teams decide that B tunnel isn’t worth dealing with, but the difficulty for a defending team to retake that site (which we basically didn’t get to see in this game, but oh well) makes me think that both sides are likely to keep putting resources in there.
* Offensive defaults…I don’t know. I think it’s very difficult to play without two on mid and probably two on B if you’re at all thinking of taking B. Rotate on mid-to-A is much easier than on mid-to-B overall. Think we need to see a lot more play with a lot more different styles of play to start sending this out.
* On that note, I don’t like the philosophy of playing conservatively on mid here as the defending team. I think you have to have some push in you, particularly from spawn. If you have a Viper or an Omen player, I would absolutely get them seeing what they can do in that position (my personal dream team would probably be both with Sage/Cypher/Brimstone).
* Teams that figure out really good ways to attack A (i.e. teams that can execute a fast push well) might be in for a treat here, because I really think you’re heavily, HEAVILY being pulled towards mid and B as both the attacking and defending team overall here in terms of bodycount.
* This feels like a good map to be Cleanup Crew on (as evidenced by how dimasick and phr did).