Red Bull Home Ground #3 is one of the most highly anticipated offseason VALORANT tournaments. Not only is it the only international LAN involving EMEA and Americas teams, some of these teams figure to challenge for the title of best team in the world next year in the VALORANT Champions Tour. Among the Americas teams competing in Manchester, England, this weekend, two stars will be making their debuts with Cloud9 and 100 Thieves. Among the European teams, Team Liquid and Team Heretics will be debuting some new rosters. Before the action gets underway, here’s a primer on the schedule and format and a breakdown of each of the eight teams.
Schedule and format
Red Bull Home Ground is a LAN tournament that will take place at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, England, from Dec. 9 to 11. The eight teams have been placed into one of two groups, and after three rounds of best-of-three matches, the top three teams in each group will move on to the playoffs. The top team in each group advances to the semifinals, and the second- and third-place teams in each group will compete in the quarterfinals.
The playoffs is where the best-of-five “home ground” format will take effect. Each team will choose a “home ground” map, and these will be the first two maps played. If either team wins both “home grounds” then they win the match and advance. Otherwise, the rest of the series will play out until one team wins three maps.
Photo credit: Riot Games
Team Liquid lost the Benrliton brothers, ScreaM and Nivera, following the 2022 VCT season, but they have added two former members of Gambit Esports, Igor "Redgar" Vlasov and Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin. These two players won Masters: Berlin with Gambit in 2021. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait a little bit longer to see how they fit into the roster as Team Liquid announced both got denied visas and neither will be competing this weekend. Johan "Meddo" Lundborg and Enzo "Enzo" Mestari will stand in for them at the tournament. TL’s other offseason addition was former Guild Esports player Saif "Sayf" Jibraeel. They join Dom "soulcas" Sulcas and Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen on a rebuilt Team Liquid. Their new coach Emil "eMIL" Sandgren is the twin brother of FPX’s Erik "d00mbr0s" Sandgren. On paper, this team profiles as one of the best in Europe.
Vitality failed to make it to any of the EMEA VCT main events last season, but they ended the season as runners-up in the VRL Finals, which was the championship event for the Tier 2 scene in Europe. The standout on this roster is Santeri "BONECOLD" Sassi, who won VALORANT Champions 2021 with Acend.
Photo credit: Riot Games
The one offseason addition for 100 Thieves was Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban. Cryocells had a breakout year with XSET in 2022 as that team qualified for two international events. 100 Thieves steadily improved throughout 2022, and the addition of Cryocells adds a heavy hitter to an already strong roster. 100 Thieves figure to be one of the better Americas teams next season and could steal home ground advantage from the Europeans this weekend.
There’s only one person on this roster that likely will be unfamiliar to most fans, Santiago "Daveeys" Ruiz. The Colombian player who was formerly with E-Xolos LAZER has yet to play at an international VCT event. Former Ninjas in Pyjamas player Alexandre "xand" Zizi and former Leviatán player Marco "Melser" Amaro joined KRÜ in the offseason too. Nicolas "Klaus" Ferrari and Juan Pablo "NagZ" Lopez Miranda, who have been with KRÜ for nearly two years, round out the roster.
Looking at this team, you might do a double take thinking this is G2 Esports. Óscar "mixwell" Colocho, Wassim "keloqz" Cista, Auni "AvovA" Chahade and Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt all have spent time with G2 -- though zeek became more well-known as part of the Acend team that won Champions 2021. The only player who was never on G2 is Ričardas "Boo" Lukaševičius, a former OG LDN UTD player who will be the IGL for this team. This roster has a lot of potential, and they showed it in a recent offseason tournament. Team Heretics finished second to Paper Rex at the VALORANT India Invitational.
Photo credit: Riot Games
When OpTic Gaming was denied a partnership spot and the players on the team became free agents, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker immediately became the biggest prize of the offseason. C9 added yay, who is perhaps the best VALORANT player in the world. With Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro also joining a roster led by IGL Anthony “vanity” Malspina, this team is among the favorites in the Americas next season and in Manchester this weekend.
This is the only team at the tournament that isn’t a partnered team in either the EMEA or Americas league. Consequently, the expectation is that FOKUS won’t make it out of groups at Red Bull Home Ground. If they do, it’ll be a major statement for this relatively unknown roster and will make FOKUS a team to watch in the EMEA Challengers leagues next season.
There aren’t any household names on this roster, but FUT Esports (formerly) known as Futbolist are the reigning VRL champions. They are one of two Turkish teams that will compete in the VCT EMEA league next season along with BBL Esports. With the exception of Ata "ATA KAPTAN" Tan, who joined this offseason, the rest of the roster has been playing together since January.
Lead image created with photos via Riot Games
There are no upcoming events