VALORANT Champions 2022: Final four preview

by Sage Datuin

As this year’s VALORANT Champions Tour circuit comes to an end, only four teams, all from different regions, are left vying for the championship trophy at VALORANT Champions 2022.

Champions will pick up once again starting Friday, and all four teams will be competing either to avoid elimination -- FunPlus Phoenix vs. DRX at 1 p.m. ET or a spot in the grand final -- OpTic Gaming vs. LOUD at 10 a.m. ET.

For now, these are all the four teams left at Champions 2022 and how they got to where they are.

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OpTic Gaming

The North American powerhouse

Photo credit: Riot Games

Following XSET’s narrow series loss to FunPlus Phoenix, OpTic Gaming are the sole representatives from North America left at Champions 2022. To reach this point, OpTic Gaming slowly scaled up, and after four matches at Champions, they have yet to close out a series in clean 2-0 fashion. However, even if they have yet to find a 2-0 win, they are the only team left at Champions without a single series loss heading into the upper bracket final.

They’re the only team to place top four at all three international VALORANT events this year. Will the 2022 Masters: Reykjavík champions become the first team in VALORANT to win their second international tournament? If they can win two more series without losing more than one, OpTic Gaming will become the first team to achieve such a feat. Their first opponent will be their rivals LOUD, whom they will be playing for the fifth time this year. The winner will move straight forward into the grand final, and the loser will drop into the lower bracket final.

Read more: OpTic Gaming vs. LOUD: The best VCT international rivalry


The Brazilian superteam

Photo credit: Riot Games

This year has been quite the ride for LOUD. They reached the final of Masters: Reykjavík and are once again near the finish line of a VALORANT LAN event after a disappointing performance at Masters: Copenhagen. In fact, it was a loss that the team believes caused more good than harm going into Champions.

“It was actually really good to lose,” Matias "Saadhak" Delipetro said in a postmatch press conference following their match against ZETA Division. “It made us more willing to come here and win.”

Saadhak detailed the team’s approach following their disappointing finish in Copenhagen. He revealed that the team did not speak to each other for two weeks before meeting back up in Brazil and then Spain for three weeks to bootcamp and truly come to Champions fully reset.

Read more: VCT 2023: Riot Games reveals schedule, location details

After being placed into a group alongside OpTic Gaming once again, the Brazilians managed to nab the second seed out of the group and have been unstoppable in the playoff bracket.

Now, they are just two series wins away from hoisting the Champions 2022 trophy. If they want to make that path easier, they will need to take down their international rivals, OpTic Gaming.

Apart from their narrow 2-1 series loss to OpTic in the group stage, LOUD have yet to drop a game against any of their other opponents and enter their series against OpTic Gaming with a better individual games record than their opponent. Friday’s match will depend on which LOUD shows up. If they can continue their dominant performance at Champions 2022, they should be the favorites to take the entire tournament. However, if they make mistakes, OpTic Gaming are sure to capitalize on them.


The Korean kings

Photo credit: Riot Games

It has been a long time coming for the Korean powerhouse. For the first time, DRX can call themselves a top four team at an international VALORANT LAN event following their victory over Fnatic in the lower bracket. It’s something that meant a lot to DRX’s players.

“There was always that worry that we would finish fifth and sixth again this time. It was always creeping there in the back of my mind even throughout today's series,” Kim "Zest" Gi-seok said. “But we've overcome it, and I'm really excited that we have achieved it.”

Read more: How DRX finally overcame 5th-6th place curse at VALORANT Champions

Now, they enter new territory as a team and have an opportunity to become the first Korean team to ever make it to a grand final of an international VALORANT LAN event.

Their first opponent will be the reigning Masters: Copenhagen champions, FunPlus Phoenix, in the lower bracket semifinal.

FunPlus Phoenix

The EMEA lower bracket demons

Photo credit: Riot Games

Three teams from Europe entered the Champions 2022 playoff bracket, but as the tournament enters the final stages, only FunPlus Phoenix is left to carry on the legacy that EMEA has built in the competitive VALORANT scene. For the Masters: Copenhagen champions, their run has been quite chaotic. In the group stage, the team struggled in their first match against XSET and came into the playoffs as the second seed from their group. They lost 2-0 against DRX and immediately dropped down into the lower bracket.

However, if you watched Masters: Copenhagen, you would know that the lower bracket is where FunPlus Phoenix rise from the ashes. Since losing to DRX, they have defeated Leviatán and their Group C rivals XSET to reach their current place in the top four.

Now, they will have a rematch against DRX, and one team will move forward into the lower bracket final, while the other team will be eliminated and finish fourth. With how unpredictable Champions has been, there is no telling which team will take it when the stakes are highest.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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