The climax of a hectic VCT Seasons is creeping closer. With the circuit reaching the closure of its second year, True Gods were crowned, and heroes were made. But, only one can take the crown for VCT Champions 2022. Each participating team has taken a road through their respective regions and through international soil to sit before the 15 of the world’s finest teams 2022 has seen. With these 16 teams, a few certain storylines become notable. Here are five key storylines to keep an eye on before and throughout VCT Champions 2022.
China will make its mark in the international Valorant scene for the first time. East Asia’s EDward Gaming will be joining as the first ever representatives from China to compete in the VCT Champions. The Chinese team out-qualified some notable Korean and Japanese teams in the East Asia Last Chance Qualifiers. This marks a great historical event in the esports’ history. Not only that, but EDG qualifying means even more diversity in the tournament, a whole new team you could root for, and a whole new Underdog story.
The team’s path was through the Last Chance Qualifiers. In a pool with teams like Korea’s DAMWON Gaming, On Sla2ers, Japan’s Northeption and Crazy Racoons, EDward Gaming stood tall to complete a dominant sweep of the LCQ. From the Upper Quarter Finals up to the Grand Finals, they did not lose a single map. They were sending a warning message to all the other teams that there is a new challenger approaching.
Paper Rex scored APAC’s best finish yet at a major international event. This screams not only excitement but also hope for all the APAC fans out there. Paper Rex finishing 2nd Masters was the most significant achievement the region has earned in the VCT circuit, and bringing that momentum with them to VCT Champions means only great things for fans of the esport. Alongside them will be XERXIA, who have had somewhat of a quiet year, and BOOM Esports.
During Stage 1, Masters Reykjavik, XERXIA were eliminated in the group stage. Finishing at 9th-10th place. During Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen, XERXIA was once eliminated in the group stage by Japan’s Northeption. This time they were out even earlier, at 11-12th place. Despite this, they were still APAC’s 2nd best-performing team this year. And of course, there is BOOM Esports, who, against all odds, outlasted every other team in the APAC Last Chance Qualifiers.
One thing the VCT has yet to see is a back-to-back champion of a major international event. That’s right; no one team has won an international event twice. But if there’s a team on the top of the odds ladder right now, it would be FPX. They’ve been held back since the start of the year due to multiple reasons that were out of their control. When they finally got to play on their terms, with everyone on the team, they absolutely dominated the competition.
With the likes of FNATIC and Team Liquid, the region is strong enough as it is and following their recent dominance, EMEA is a whole new monster every region has to fear. FNATIC and Team Liquid have been some of the most consistently present teams ever since the start of the VCT in 2021. Will EMEA dominate once again in the Valorant Champions?
Japan’s Heroes. What more needs to be said? ZETA Division made waves around the Valorant world during the 2022 Stage 1 Masters Reykjavik when they made it farther than any other Japanese team ever. Not only that, they reached the Lower Bracket final, where they eventually placed 3rd in the tournament. They’ve already made Japan proud, but they could make them even prouder. They shocked the world once before, so it’s just a question of if they can surprise us that much again?
ZETA Division started strong in the year but followed up with a disappointing showing. Northeption had beaten the team who had just made history in Reykjavik. It was hard fought, but Northeption took the grand finals to win in their domestic Challengers event to qualify to Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen. Despite this, Northeption didn’t have nearly as strong of a showing as ZETA, and couldn’t bag enough circuit points to qualify for Valorant Champions 2022.
ZETA Division returns, but can they challenge for the crown again?
LOUD may have been absent from the playoffs of the recent Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen. But we can blame luck for that. After finishing as finalists in the Stage 1 Masters’ Grand Finals, they were greeted by OpTic Gaming in Stage 2 Masters before the Playoffs could even start. This was mainly due to the format that Riot had placed in terms of seeding teams in the event. But we all saw what happened the last time the world doubted South America.
LOUD is once again in the same group as their biggest rivals this year. In Group B, they are with BOOM Esports, ZETA Division, and their biggest weakness: OpTic Gaming. LOUD have been denied an international trophy and a playoffs appearance both by OpTic Gaming now. In a group with them, as well as Japan’s Best and APAC’s dark horse, LOUD has quite a challenge to even make it out of the Group Stage. But if any one of these teams can show us an upper bracket miracle, it’s these guys. Can LOUD finally lift that International trophy?
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Cover image: Riot Games