In a few months, 16 teams will head to Berlin for VALORANT Champions. For many of them, it will be a familiar stage. The vast majority of the 12 teams already qualified for the VALORANT Champions Tour’s first true world championship recently competed at Masters: Berlin. To learn more about the 12 teams already qualified for Champions, check out this article.
For teams who didn’t get to compete in Berlin, or ones who came up just a bit short, four regional Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ) will mark the final chance teams have to play at Champions.
With only the top one or two teams from each region automatically making it through to Champions via circuit points, LCQ is how most teams will make good on the circuit points they accumulated throughout the year. This article will look at the EMEA LCQ, which includes teams from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and begins Oct. 10.
- G2 Esports (Europe)
- Team Liquid (Europe)
- SuperMassive Blaze (Turkey)
- Oxygen Esports (Turkey)
- Futbolist (Turkey)
- Guild Esports (Europe)
- One Breath Gaming (CIS)
- Anubis Gaming (Middle East)
After an EMEA team won Masters: Berlin, the region removed any doubt that it was on the same level as NA VALORANT. Of the four teams that represented the region in Berlin, two are in this LCQ field. Overall, the talent across EMEA LCQ is slightly below the NA LCQ only due to the fact that the top three teams from EMEA are in Champions, but only the top two from NA are.
G2 Esports have to be the favorite here. They finished as semifinalists in Berlin and beat Sentinels in the group stage. With that being said, they had the easiest first-round matchup of any team in the bracket part of Berlin as they took down Latin America’s KRÜ Esports. Over the course of the tournament, Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho showed the talent that made him one of the top Counter-Strike players and 18-year old French phenom Wassim "keloqz" Cista became one of the game’s rising stars.
G2 may be the favorite, but I wouldn’t put them as far ahead of the rest of the field as 100 Thieves is in NA, mainly because the last map we saw from them they lost 13-0. At no other point in Masters: Berlin did a team go an entire map without winning a round. G2 will have a chance for redemption at LCQ.
Sticking with chalk here and going with SuperMassive Blaze and Team Liquid. Both teams have a similar story in their international LAN appearances. They both finished well in their regional qualifier as SMB took second out of the four teams who made it to Berlin, and Liquid beat out Fnatic to become the top seed at Reykjavík.
But then when they went to the tournament, the other teams from EMEA outperformed them. SMB were the only EMEA team to miss the bracket stage, although the team’s group was the most difficult of the four. Liquid lost the rematch to Fnatic at Reykajvík, which ended up being the difference between a spot in Champions and heading to LCQ.
Both teams are loaded with talent but fell below expectations on the international stage. Either one could absolutely take down G2. SMB already proved that in EMEA’s Challengers Finals. Team Liquid also came incredibly close to heading to Berlin they ended up losing 2-1 to Gambit in the lower bracket. In hindsight, that loss looks pretty good on paper.
The dark horse
Oxygen Esports is my pick here, but honestly there’s a steep drop off in talent from the top three of this tournament to the rest of the field. Oxygen had a quick exit in Challengers Finals but performed well in Turkey’s Challengers 1 where they beat SMB 2-0 before eventually losing the rematch in the grand final.
Futbolist, another Turkish team, came close to qualifying for Challengers Finals. That means a lot of these teams haven’t played against them yet. It could be a benefit but it also could point to a team just not on the same level as the rest of this field.
Guild Esports, the esports org that made a big splash with David Beckham as a co-owner, has been close to the top throughout VCT. In Stage 1 Masters they were semifinalists but they haven’t performed great against the top teams in EMEA.
One Breath Gaming (formerly forZe) are actually a sneaky pick. Gambit have been the leader of the CIS region throughout VCT, but forZe often have been right behind them. After seeing Gambit tear through international competition in Berlin, forZe’s previous battles against Gambit are taking on a bit of a different light.
Anubis Gaming are the Saudi Arabia Strike qualifier. The Egyptian team won the Red Bull Campus Clutch in July. It’s awesome to see more representation from different regions in VCT but ultimately there’s a reason we haven’t seen more from this region already. Always fun to root for an underdog though.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games