VALORANT Champions 2022 will determine the best team in the world to close out the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 season. We’ve already seen teams from around the world compete at two previous Masters events, but the field for Champions is bigger and the stakes are higher. Of course, before a champion is crowned, everybody likes to speculate on who are the best teams in the world heading into the tournament, and so do we. The rankings below were determined by aggregating the rankings from members of our editorial team and the Press 4 to Defuse crew. As a reminder, the 16 teams hail from North America (NA), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Latin America (LATAM), Asia Pacific (APAC), Brazil, Korea, Japan and China. For context, the VCT records below each team include both their regional VCT results and performance at Masters. Here’s how we think the 16 teams stack up.
16. BOOM Esports
VCT 2022 record: 27-10 | Masters 2022 record: 0-0
BOOM will be making their global debut at Champions as the third team from the APAC region. Just because they don’t have experience at previous Masters events doesn’t doom BOOM to a poor performance. However, they’re going from the frying pan of the APAC Last Chance Qualifier to the oven of Champions where they will be tested by OpTic Gaming, LOUD and ZETA Division. It seems unlikely they make it out of their group, but stranger things have happened.
15. FURIA Esports
VCT 2022 record: 10-8 | Masters 2022 record: 0-0
FURIA are a powerhouse Brazilian esports organization, with great teams in Rocket League and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. However, their VALORANT team hasn’t been playing quite at the same level. They will be making their global debut this year at Champions, but they did play at Champions last year too. Except for Douglas "dgzin" Silva, this is the same roster that was at Champions 2021, and they played in front of a crowd in the South America Last Chance Qualifier, so stage jitters shouldn’t be an issue. They’re in a tough group with DRX, Fnatic and 100 Thieves, but don’t be surprised if they win a match or two.
VCT 2022 record: 29-9 | Masters 2022 record: 1-4
Besides beating Envy/OpTic Gaming, XERXIA haven’t shown much at international events. They’ve proven to be better than APAC third seed BOOM Esports and are likely better than Brazil’s second qualifier FURIA, but might not be better than the rest of the teams on this list. They are in a relatively easy group at Champions. Besides FunPlus Phoenix, the second team to make it out of their group should be a toss-up between XERXIA, XSET and KRÜ.
Photo credit: Riot Games
13. KRÜ Esports
VCT 2022 record: 22-7 | Masters 2022 record: 1-4
They’re the only team that has qualified for every single global VCT event, so we might be sleeping on them placing them at No. 13. KRÜ made a name for themselves last year at Champions as they beat Sentinels and Fnatic and almost took down Gambit Esports en route to a 3rd-4th place finish. They haven’t shown the same level of play this year, and their 2021 coaching staff is now overseeing Leviatán, which is why expectations are lower for them in 2022. Still, KRÜ have the talent and experience to make a deep run.
VCT 2022 record: 16-8 | Masters 2022 record: 1-2
Leviatán is in a tough group at Champions with Paper Rex, EDward Gaming and Team Liquid, but if they make it out of their group, they can easily finish much higher at Champions than their place in this ranking. They made their international debut in Copenhagen, beating XSET and pushing Fnatic to three maps in the playoffs. This time, they will have to make it out of groups to reach the playoffs.
Photo credit: Riot Games
11. ZETA Division
VCT 2022 record: 18-4 | Masters 2022 record: 5-3
They were the darlings of Masters: Reykjavík as they captivated audiences not just in Japan but around the world with their energy and ultimately finished in third. However, they didn’t qualify for Masters: Copenhagen and will be playing with a substitute at Champions. It’s hard to place them higher in this ranking given that context. Still, they proved in Iceland that they can go toe-to-toe with any team.
10. EDward Gaming
VCT/FGC 2022 record: 34-5 | Masters 2022 record: 0-0
This was one of the more polarizing teams in these rankings. Some voters had them ranked among the best teams, while others had them near the bottom -- hence EDward’s place near the middle of these rankings. They hadn’t played teams outside China’s FGC circuit until the East Asia Last Chance Qualifier, and they absolutely dominated the teams from Korea and Japan. They’re a team that plays aggressively like Paper Rex that can out-skill and just run over teams, but that style might get them in trouble against teams that are the cream of the crop globally. EDward Gaming are the biggest wild card at this event and might be the funnest to watch.
VCT 2022 record: 18-8 | Masters 2022 record: 0-2
XSET’s run at Masters: Copenhagen played out eerily similar to The Guard’s run at Masters: Reykjavík. The narrative was the same: NA No. 1 seed starts the tournament in the playoffs, loses to OpTic Gaming and then loses again in the lower bracket to get knocked out of the tournament. Unlike The Guard, XSET are getting a second chance. With some international stage experience, XSET should be much better. They’re in the same group as Masters: Copenhagen champs FunPlus Phoenix, but XERXIA and KRÜ are two teams they can beat.
Photo credit: Riot Games
VCT 2022 record: 27-5 | Masters 2022 record: 6-4
They have finished 5th-6th out of 12 teams at both Masters events this year, so ranking them 8th out of 16 teams feels fitting. After four global VCT appearances, expectations are much more tempered for the team formerly known as Vision Strikers. You can always count on them to win a few games at Masters, but that’s about it. Last year at Champions, this team didn’t make it out of groups, losing to an EU team (Fnatic) and the NA team that won the NA LCQ (Cloud9). This year? They’re in a group with Fnatic and the NA team that won the NA LCQ (100 Thieves). They will need to beat at least one of those two teams and maybe both to reach the playoffs.
7. Team Liquid
VCT 2022 record: 15-10 | Masters 2022 record: 2-2
Team Liquid are a regular participant at global VCT events. They’ve only missed two of six dating back to Masters: Reykjavík 2021. And they always do pretty well at these events, though they have yet to win one. The closest they came was a 3rd-4th place finish at Champions last year. The story with this team is the incredible mechanical abilities of Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and his brother Nabil "Nivera" Benrlitom. Team Liquid just need to combine the outstanding individual skills of the players on this team with a solid strategy to finally break through.
6. 100 Thieves
VCT 2022 record: 19-11 | Masters 2022 record: 0-0
This might be too high for a team making their international debut, but there’s a lot of faith among our voters for 100 Thieves. Betting sites seem to like their odds too. This roster has shown steady improvement since being assembled in April. With the highly regarded former caster duo of Sean “sgares” Gares and Daniel “ddk” Kapadia running the team, Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk & Co. had a dominant Last Chance Qualifier run to reach Champions. If they can minimize the stage jitters and adjust to their opponents quickly, their ceiling is high.
Photo credit: Riot Games
VCT 2022 record: 24-3 | Masters 2022 record: 3-3
LOUD have had some lousy luck. After losing to OpTic Gaming in the Masters: Reykjavík final, they were drawn into the same group as OpTic at Masters: Copenhagen. Of course, they played each other in an elimination match and they lost to OpTic. For VALORANT Champions, they have once again been drawn into the same group as OpTic. There’s no guarantee they will face each other again, but if they do, you know LOUD will be eager for some revenge against the team that has handed them two of their three losses this year.
VCT 2022 record: 16-6 | Masters 2022 record: 2-4
They’re the most consistent team over the past two years that has yet to break through for an international title. Fnatic finished second at Masters: Reykjavík last year and are coming off a fourth-place finish at Masters: Copenhagen. They also reached the playoffs at Champions 2021. Jake “Boaster” Howlett, Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev and James "Mistic" Orfila have been there through it all, with Enzo "Enzo" Mestari and Emir Ali "Alfajer" Beder being the team’s latest additions. Fnatic are always fan favorites, and they should once again have the crowd behind them with Alfajer playing in his home country.
Photo credit: Riot Games
3. Paper Rex
VCT 2022 record: 33-4 | Masters 2022 record: 5-3
Their aggressive and exciting playstyle have made them fan favorites at Masters this year and have translated to strong results. Paper Rex finished fourth at Masters: Reykjavík and second at Masters: Copenhagen. Naturally, they should take the next step forward and win it all at Champions. They just need to be wary of the second-place curse that seems to strike every runner-up of every VCT global tournament.
2. OpTic Gaming
VCT 2022 record: 22-10 | Masters 2022 record: 10-5
OpTic established themselves as the best team in the world after winning Masters: Reykjavík. They followed that up with another strong run in Copenhagen, ultimately finishing third. Their level of consistency dating back to Masters: Berlin is unmatched, and the revenge narrative is strong with this team. If they get another matchup against Paper Rex or FunPlus Phoenix, you know Pujan “FNS” Mehta & Co. will be ready.
1. FunPlus Phoenix
VCT 2022 record: 30-8 | Masters 2022 record: 7-2
Is there really any question who the No. 1 team in these rankings is heading into VALORANT Champions? They won Masters: Copenhagen after going on an epic lower bracket run in which they beat Masters: Reykjavík champions OpTic Gaming, EMEA rivals Fnatic and popular upset pick Paper Rex. They were the ultimate feel-good story in Copenhagen with a team composed of Ukrainian and Russian players that finally were able to play on the international stage after travel issues prevented them from going to Masters: Reykjavík. They will be the team to beat in Istanbul.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games
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