VCT Champions 2022: All qualified teams

by Brian Bencomo

Now that the VALORANT Champions Tour Masters: Copenhagen is over, that means there’s only one more international VALORANT tournament this year: VCT Champions 2022. Champions is set to take place Sept. 2-18 in Istanbul, Turkey. After months of regional play and two international Masters tournaments, 10 teams have earned enough circuit points to represent their regions at the season-ending tournament. The teams hail from North America (NA), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Brazil, Latin America (LATAM), Korea, Japan and Asia-Pacific (APAC). The 10 teams that have qualified via circuit points are:

  • OpTic Gaming
  • XSET
  • FunPlus Phoenix
  • Fnatic
  • LOUD
  • Leviatán
  • DRX
  • ZETA DIVISION
  • Paper Rex
  • XERXIA

Read more: Masters Copenhagen takeaways: OpTic denied, Champions spots decided and more

Another six teams have qualified via Last Chance Qualifiers according to the following regional breakdown: one from NA, one from EMEA, two from South America (Brazil and LATAM), one from East Asia (Korea, Japan and China) and one from APAC. These LCQs will take place during the first two weeks of August. The six LCQ teams are:

  • BOOM Esports
  • KRÜ Esports
  • EDward Gaming
  • Team Liquid
  • FURIA
  • 100 Thieves

Here’s a primer on all the teams qualified for VCT Champions 2022.

OpTic Gaming

NA

Photo credit: Riot Games

OpTic have shown throughout the year that they are the best team in North America and in the conversation for best team in the world. Although they failed to win back-to-back Masters, they finished third at Masters: Copenhagen after winning Masters: Reykjavík. OpTic have been the most successful VALORANT team through the game’s first two years having placed top three at three Masters events. They’re so good at making adjustments and beating teams whom they’ve lost to previously, but their biggest Achilles heel seems to be EMEA teams. They are 0-4 against EMEA teams and have only won one map against a team from Europe. After another long tournament run they’ll have a bit of a break until taking the stage again in Istanbul where they’ll be among the favorites to win the biggest VALORANT tournament of the year.

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XSET

NA

Photo credit: Riot Games

XSET not only finally broke their fourth-place curse when they qualified for Masters: Copenhagen, they smashed it. By beating OpTic Gaming in the NA Stage 2 grand final, they claimed the No. 1 NA seed heading to Denmark and secured a spot at Champions. You might have had déjà vu seeing how they had a similar fate in Copenhagen as fellow NA team The Guard had in Reykjavík: 0-2 with a loss to OpTic. However, XSET came close to beating Leviatán, and the fact they will be at Champions means they will have a chance to learn from their mistakes and get a second chance to show the world what they are capable of.

FunPlus Phoenix

EMEA

Photo credit: Riot Games

FunPlus Phoenix are the latest VCT Masters champions. FPX went from being a team that looked doubtful to have their full team in Copenhagen to being crowned the best VALORANT team in the world. They missed out on Masters: Reykjavík despite qualifying because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prevented Ukrainian player Kyrylo "ANGE1" Karasov and Russian players Dmitry "SUYGETSU" Ilyushin and Andrey "Shao" Kiprsky from traveling to Iceland. ANGE1 and Shao made it to Copenhagen and the team had to play with substitute Mathias "SEIDER" Seider for the group stage of the tournament. SUYGETSU arrived just in time to help FPX embark on a lower bracket run that saw them beat Guild Esports, DRX, Fnatic, OpTic Gaming and Paper Rex en route to the title. It was a remarkable championship run given the hardship they went through just to get to Denmark, and they’ll be the team everyone wants to beat in Turkey.

Read more: Coming from countries at war, ‘every match is a gift’ for FPX ANGE1 and his teammates

Fnatic

EMEA

Photo credit: Riot Games

At Masters: Copenhagen, Fnatic had their best finish at an international tournament since Masters: Reykjavík 2021. They finished top four, only losing to Paper Rex and fellow EMEA team FunPlus Phoenix, a team they had beaten three times in a row. In a postmatch press conference following the FPX loss, in-game leader Jake “Boaster” Howlett said the team needed to clean up some mistakes to be better at Champions [QUOTE]. If they can shore up their mistakes, another top four finish and maybe more is possible for this team in September. They were one of the crowd favorites playing in front of a European crowd in Copenhagen and should again get the loudest cheers in Istanbul due to Turkish player Emir Ali "Alfajer" Beder.

LOUD

Brazil

Photo credit: Riot Games

The Masters: Reykjavík runners-up have only lost three matches all year. One of them was the Reykjavík final and the other two were during the group stage of Masters: Copenhagen. LOUD got a tough draw as they were eliminated by OpTic Gaming in Copenhagen, but their spot at VCT Champions 2022 was already secure, and they should be back stronger in Istanbul. Still, their disappointing performance in Copenhagen does put more of a damper on expectations for the Brazilian superteam.

Leviatán

LATAM

Photo credit: Riot Games

Leviatán’s performance in Copenhagen was a revelation. They proved that LATAM is more than a one-team region dominated by KRÜ Esports. The amount of clutches Marco Eliot “Melser” Machuca Amaro pulled off against XSET was remarkable -- one 1v4 and four 1v2s won. And Francisco “kiNgg” Aravena’s miraculous Raze play where he blasted into heaven to retrieve the spike and bring it back down to the site so his team could plant it even though he fell to his death will live on in VALORANT esports lore. They nearly beat Fnatic too. Leviatán will be a team to be reckoned with in Istanbul.

DRX

Korea

Photo credit: Riot Games

The best team in Korea continues to qualify for international VALORANT tournaments, but despite hype around this team, their performance at these events continues to fall short. DRX finished 5th-6th at both Masters: Reykjavík and Masters: Copenhagen with upper bracket losses to OpTic Gaming in both. This team is always a threat to make the bracket stage at an international event, but that seems to be their ceiling for now until they can prove otherwise.

ZETA DIVISION

Japan

Photo credit: Riot Games

It was shocking when the Masters: Reykjavík third-place finishers didn’t qualify for Masters: Copenhagen. Northeption beat ZETA DIVISION in the VCT Japan Stage 2 final and had a chance to surpass them in circuit points if they did well enough in Copenhagen. When Northeption were eliminated in group play it gave ZETA DIVISION a ticket to Champions. Nice. With a breakout performance in Iceland, Koji "Laz" Ushida, Tomoaki "crow" Maruoka & Co. will be hungry to prove that their previous performance on the international stage was no fluke.

Paper Rex

APAC

Photo credit: Riot Games

Paper Rex brought an exciting style of VALORANT to Copenhagen marked by more aggression and unpredictability than teams normally use at the highest levels of competitive VALORANT. They came very close to winning Masters: Copenhagen after an undefeated upper bracket run through the playoffs. Paper Rex became the first team from Asia to reach an international VCT tournament final, however, FPX beat them in five maps in the final. The second-place finish followed up the team’s fourth-place finish at Masters: Reykjavík and ensured that Paper Rex will be one of the top contenders at Champions.

XERXIA

APAC

Photo credit: Riot Games

This team is best known for challenging OpTic Gaming. Dating back to last year when the majority of this roster was playing for X10 Crit and OpTic were known as Envy, the two teams are 2-2 against each other. At Masters: Reykjavík, XERXIA beat OpTic in the opening game of group play, but OpTic beat them in a rematch en route to winning that tournament. They’re the clear second-best team from the APAC region, but need to do more than just beat OpTic in order to make some noise on the international stage.

BOOM Esports

APAC

Photo credit: BOOM Esports via Twitter

They will be making their first international appearance. BOOM Esports stayed in the upper bracket throughout the course of the APAC Last Chance Qualifier. They beat Griffin E-Sports, ONIC Esports, Bleed eSports and ONIC again in the grand final. The Indonesian team appears to be peaking as they were previously 1-3 vs. ONIC before beating them twice in the LCQ. As far as how they compare to fellow APAC teams Paper Rex and XERXIA, they have not beaten those two teams during this VCT season.

KRÜ Esports

LATAM

Photo credit: Riot Games

They’re the only team that has qualified for every single VCT event since last year. KRÜ weren’t able to qualify for Champions via circuit points like they did last year, but they got the job done via the South America LCQ. Of course, they did it by beating Brazilian teams: TBK Esports, Vivo Keyd and FURIA. They might not be as strong as they were last year, but they will enter Champions with more international experience than any team in Istanbul.

EDward Gaming

East Asia

Photo credit: EDward Gaming via Twitter

The East Asia LCQ was the first time Chinese teams competed against teams from other regions, and now we’ll see a Chinese team at a global VCT event. EDward Gaming absolutely trounced the competition at the LCQ, beating teams from South Korea and Japan without dropping a map. They beat Korea’s On Sla2ers 2-0 in the upper bracket quarterfinal and 3-0 in the grand final. In between, EDG beat Japan’s REJECT and NORTHEPTION. Three of the top four players in K/D in the tournament were on EDG. EDward Gaming’s Shun “CHICHOO” Zhi Wan led the tournament in winning 32% of his clutch situations.

Team Liquid

EMEA

Photo credit: Riot Games

For the second year in a row, Team Liquid have qualified for VCT Champions via the EMEA LCQ. They certainly weren’t heavy favorites to make it out this year like they were last year. Despite losing to M3 Champions in the upper bracket final, they beat a G2 team that was on a hot lower bracket run in the lower final. Then they got revenge on M3C in the grand final. Statistically, none of TL’s players stood out except Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, who had the fourth-best ACS in the tournament. The team did what they needed to do to scrape together wins, and they did it with Dmitriy “dimasick” Matvienko joining the team in place of Travis “L1NK” Mendoza just a few weeks ago.

FURIA

LATAM

Photo credit: FURIA via Twitter

FURIA have not qualified for any global VCT Masters events, but they’ve qualified for Champions twice now through the Last Chance Qualifier. Last year, they lost to Sentinels and KRÜ at Champions. They still couldn’t beat KRÜ in this year’s South America LCQ, but that didn’t matter because they beat every other team they faced. FURIA took down Latin American teams Fusion and 9z and beat fellow Brazilian team TBK Esports in the grand final to punch their ticket to Istanbul.

100 Thieves

NA

Photo credit: Riot Games

They have completed an epic comeback arc this season. After a fantastic 2021 VCT season, 100 Thieves had a terrible start to 2022. Their lowest point was getting beat 13-0 on a map by The Guard. It prompted team owner Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag to blow up the roster. The youngster last year, Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk, became the team veteran as four new up-and-coming players were added. 100 Thieves also brought in two of the brightest minds in VALORANT: Sean “sgares” Gares to coach the team and Daniel “ddk” Kapadia to manage the team. Of course, they beat The Guard to qualify for Champions.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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