100 Thieves Valorant team pose on stage after win at Masters Berlin
100 Thieves Valorant team pose on stage after win at Masters Berlin

100 Thieves lead field of 8 NA teams looking to qualify for Champions at VCT LCQ

by Mitch Reames

In a couple 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 NA LCQ, which originally was set to include eight teams from North America and two from Oceania, but with the two Oceania teams unable to travel to the U.S., it will include only NA teams. The NA LCQ starts Tuesday.

The teams

  • 100 Thieves
  • XSET
  • FaZe Clan
  • Version 1
  • Cloud9 Blue
  • Luminosity Gaming
  • Gen.G Esports
  • Rise

This one is the biggest tournament of all the LCQs for a few reasons. One, with a team from EMEA winning Masters: Berlin, NA has only two teams locked into Champions compared to EMEA’s three. And two, the talent level outside of the top few teams is just a bit higher overall than the talent level of the rest of EMEA. It would have been an even bigger tournament had the two Oceania teams been able to travel to the U.S. to compete too.

The favorite

100 Thieves have to be the favorite to win this tournament. In Berlin, they finished as semifinalists after losing to Envy. Over the course of that tournament they beat both Acend and Gambit Esports, two teams from EMEA who are already locked in to Champions. Not only does the team have the most LAN experience of any roster in this field by far, they know what playing on LAN feels like in VALORANT. Only Version1 can say the same from this field. They have made a roster change since Berlin, replacing Josh “steel” Nissan with Aaron “b0i” Thao, so it remains to be seen how the new roster will perform.

The contenders

Photo credit: Riot Games

Two teams seem solidly in the contender category for LCQ. XSET impressed a lot of people at Challengers Playoffs, finishing in fourth place, just one spot away from heading to Berlin. The roster is still relatively new with the additions of Rory "dephh" Jackson and Zachary "zekken" Patrone in Stage 3. In that tournament, they lost to both 100 Thieves and Envy which are pretty respectable losses. Had an NA team won Masters: Berlin, which would have seen 100T not be in this field, XSET would have been the overall favorite going in. With that being said, they have the talent to take down 100T on a good day.

Cloud9 Blue are another contender. After an impressive Stage 2 that saw them just narrowly miss out on a trip to Iceland when they lost to Version1, they employed the classic strategy of “if you can’t beat ‘em, use all your money and acquire their best player.” It’s a time-honored strategy also employed by Vision Strikers when they grabbed Kim "Lakia" Jong-min from Nuturn Gaming.

In this case, C9 Blue brought in Anthony “vanity” Malaspina. The talented IGL put together post-plant strategies that had many teams confused in Iceland. C9 Blue were a nonfactor in VCT Stage 3, but the new roster did win Nerd Street Gamers’ Summer Championship after beating NRG in the final. It ain’t LCQ but the field was pretty solid. They pose the biggest unknown of any team in this tournament, and vanity has proven his strats can guide a team to international LANs in the past.

The dark horses

FaZe Clan are almost always a threat with their guns-blazing playstyle. Good luck trying to slow them down. If they’re hot at the right time, they can play with any team in VALORANT. But they haven’t shown the ability to be consistent across a stage or even a big tournament since Stage 1 Masters.

Luminosity Gaming are another team that was in roster flux during Challengers Playoffs. New IGL Will "dazzLe" Loafman had the team reaching old highs, Diondre "YaBoiDre" Bond looks like one of the best pure fraggers in VALORANT, and the team has now had over a month to practice with this core. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset or two out of LG.

Version1 are the only other team with LAN experience, but they’ve lost two members of their old roster including vanity. Maxim "wippie" Shepelev is an improvement, and he only missed Iceland due to a visa issue, but losing vanity hurts. Vanity’s replacement is Kansas City Pioneers’ Chad “Oderus” Miller. Oderus is a talented player and was one of the breakout stars from Stage 3, Challengers 1, but he will have big shoes to fill.

The longshots

Gen.G finished third in Stage 1 Masters. That was good to get them enough points for LCQ, but a lack of results over the last six months doesn’t inspire confidence heading into this tournament.

Rise were a true out-of-nowhere team in Stage 3 and were the only mid-tier team to actually accumulate enough points to make it to LCQ. They beat TSM but still don’t have a win over any true top-tier team.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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