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Valorant Challengers North America Stage written in white across black background next to team Valorant logoValorant Challengers North America Stage written in white across black background next to team Valorant logo

What’s different in 2022 about North America’s VCT Stage 1 Challengers

by Jessica Scharnagle

A new VALORANT Champions Tour season has already started in several regions around the world, and teams across the North American region are getting ready to start regional play this week.

Just over a month ago, Acend was crowned the first VCT Champion and were able to call themselves the best VALORANT team in the world.

In 2022, the tournament circuit is going to be a little different in terms of format and how to qualify for Challengers and Masters, and many teams have adjusted their rosters or rebuilt all together. Here’s a closer look at what is changing for the 2022 season and changes among the NA teams as they prepare to battle it out in Stage 1 Challengers.

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Format changes

The overall VCT season will be shorter this year. In 2021 the competition spanned almost the entire year, but in 2022, the tournament circuit starts in January and lasts only until September, when the Champions event will take place. After that, there will be a new tournament circuit where Riot will be working with third-party tournament organizers to run more professional VALORANT matches.

Challengers events are also much longer, and there are only two Masters events now (taking place in April and July), which eliminates the regional Masters events. Below are the dates for each Challengers series in North America, which will have a Masters event following them.

Stage 1: Jan. 27 - March 27

Stage 2: May 5 - June 26

Qualifying for the Stage 1 Challengers main event

Photo credit: Riot Games

The open qualifiers in the NA region that begin this week will feature 128 teams, and only the top four will move on to the main event. Four more teams will move on to the main event through the second open qualifier.

The first open qualifier runs from Jan. 27 to 30, and the second runs from Feb. 3 to 6. The Rounds of 128 and 64 will be single-elimination games, but starting with the Round of 32, the format shifts to a double-elimination bracket.

The fifth through 16th place teams in the first open qualifier will be seeded one through 12 for the second open qualifier, which will be played on a new patch.

Sentinels, Envy, 100 Thieves and Cloud9 Blue have been invited to skip the qualifiers to round out the field of 12 for the main event.

The main event for Stage 1 Challengers begins Feb. 11, and games will be played every Friday through Sunday for five weeks. The top eight teams will advance to the playoffs, which begin March 17, and the top two teams will qualify for Stage 1 Masters.

Here is the full schedule for the entirety of the Stage 1 Challengers event:

Open qualifier 1 (Jan. 27-30)

  • Jan. 27 & Jan. 28 - Matches begin at 6pm ET
  • Jan. 29 & Jan. 30 - Matches begin at 3pm ET

Open qualifier 2 (Feb. 3-6)

  • Feb. 3 & Feb. 4 - Matches begin at 6pm ET
  • Feb. 5 & Feb. 6 - Matches begin at 3pm ET

Main event

  • Feb. 11 - March 13: Matches are played every Friday through Sunday for five weeks and all match days begin at 3pm ET

Playoffs

  • March 17 - March 27: Matches are played every Thursday through Sunday for two weeks, and all match days begin at 3pm ET

Notable player moves

Photo credit: Riot Games


There have been quite a few roster moves among the top North American teams since the end of the 2021 VALORANT Champions Tour season. Among the top teams, Sentinels, Envy, Cloud9 Blue and Rise did not make any moves. Below is a recap of the moves made by some of the other top orgs that were successful last year.

100 Thieves

100 Thieves made a couple of roster moves in the offseason. Joshua “steel” Nissan was released from his contract and went to T1. Aaron “b0i” Thao and dicey also were released. The two newest additions that round out the roster are Hunter “BabyJ” Schline, coming from FaZe Clan, and Adam “ec1s” Eccles, who recently played for Ninjas in Pyjamas.

T1

As mentioned above, steel is now with T1 and calling the shots as their IGL. He’s not the only former 100 Thieves player now with T1. The team also has added their former sub Johann "seven" Hernandez. Josh "pwny" VanGorder rounds out the roster, which also includes Zander "thwifo" Kim and Rahul "curry" Nemani. T1 recently reached the semifinals of a Nerd Street Winter Championship qualifier, where they lost to eventual open qualifier winner The Guard.

FaZe Clan

FaZe Clan have made a huge shift since fans last saw them in action. The new roster was recently leaked by the Battlefy page where teams need to register in order to compete. If the Battlefy listing doesn’t change, FaZe has added Quan “dicey” Tran, who formerly played for 100 Thieves, and Andrew “ShoT_UP” Orlowski, who came from Immortals, as well as a couple of players formerly with Teal Seam. Andrej “babybay” Francisty is the only player that remains on the roster from last year.

Photo credit: Nerd Street

TSM

Corey “Corey” Nigra has joined TSM after his departure from FaZe Clan. TSM also signed Daniel “Rossy” Abedrabbo, who recently played for Salt and Vinegar in a Nerd Street Winter Championship qualifier. Andrew “aRubyz” was promoted to head coach after James “hazed” Cobb left for NRG.

XSET

XSET added Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban during the offseason in place of Bryce "PureR" Lovell. Cryocells played most of last year with SoaR.

NRG

Former TSM player hazed rounds out the NRG roster after Matthew "Wedid" Suchan left. The rest of the roster has been together for nearly a year.

Gen.G

Emir "rhyme" Muminovic comes to Gen.G via Ninjas in Pyjamas and replaces Michael "MkaeL" De Luca, who is currently an inactive member of the roster.

Version1

After bringing on Chad "Oderus" Miller as the fifth member of the roster for a couple of months, the team parted ways with him and added Alexander "Zander" Dituri to round out the roster.

Luminosity Gaming

LG have welcomed two new players in the new year: Adam "mada" Pampuch and Brandon Michael "bdog" Sanders.

Pioneers

The Pioneers completely revamped their roster since the end of VCT 2021. Their new roster includes Noah "jcStani" Smith, Brady "thief" Dever, Tristan "Critical" Trinacty and Matthew "Wedid" Suchan. They’re all players who have attained various levels of success with other top-tier teams, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play together.

Andbox

Like the Pioneers, Andbox have completely overhauled their roster since last year. Anthony "mummAy" DiPaolo and Oderus are their two most notable newcomers, and they also have added Dayton "Lear" Akau and Jonard "Jonaaa6" Penaflor.

Immortals

Among all the top-tier North American orgs, Immortals are the only one yet to announce a new roster as of publication of this article. They also have not registered for the first open qualifier, according to Battlefy.

Lead image credit: Riot Games

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