VCT Champions 2023 has been a roller coaster of emotions, a statement that rings true for both fans and professional players in this sport. From the exciting group stage, with Loud getting back their form, to China having 2 of their teams qualifying for the playoffs. This tournament has already created so many memorable moments. We take a closer look at the playoff runs of the last 4 remaining teams in the tournament in this article. An interesting fact about this event: two teams from all four regions, China, Asia Pacific, EMEA and America, made it into the playoffs.
Each team in the top 4 has quite a storyline backing them. Fnatic wants to make sure they’re the first team to manage a three-peat. Loud wants to be the only team to defend their VCT Champions trophy and win it back-to-back. Evil Geniuses — who were reckoned as one of the worst teams in America — are now inches away from being the best in the world. Paper Rex have come close before; maybe this time, they’ll be the first Pacific team to win a Valorant tournament. Wang “Jinggg” Jing Jie, the star duelist of Paper Rex, is said to be stepping down next year to serve the Singaporean National Services, making this tournament his last ride.
The reigning champions are back for their crown
Many fans have felt like Loud haven't been their best this year. Their roster consists of some of the best players in the American region. Loud began the tournament in Group D, known as the Group Of Death. They lost their first match against DRX 1-2, pushing them immediately into the eliminator match against Team Liquid. Realizing this game could be their last in the event, Loud pulled up their socks. Taking a dominant win over Team Liquid with a score of 2-0. Their decider match saw them face another team from the EMEA, the powerhouse NAVI. This game was one for the ages, turning out to be quite a close match-up. NAVI won the first match with a close scoreline of 13-11, Loud, knowing that this was their make-or-break moment, pushed forward, winning the next two maps with a score of 13-11 each. Taking the victory with a scoreline of 2-1.
Will The Fnatic dynasty be able to accomplish the 3peat?
Going into the tournament, Fnatic were the clear favorite to win. After their success at both Lock//In and VCT Masters Tokyo, many were wondering: who could stop them? And during the group stages, it did seem like this was the reality we were looking at. Fnatic went on to show their dominance against both ZETA Division and Bilibili Gaming, winning both games with a score of 2-0, barely breaking a sweat. In the first game in the playoffs, we saw them facing Loud in a close affair, with LOUD winning map 1 with a score of 13-11. The second map was a shocker. It looked like the dynasty of Fnatic was crumbling before our very eyes. Fnatic lost the first 6 rounds on Lotus, a map which they dominated during the group stages.
Following this loss, they were relegated to the lower bracket, with another loss taking them out of the tournament. Their first match was against their EMEA rivals in FUT Esports. Fnatic won that matchup with ease, with a score of 2-0. Their next game was one filled with a lot of drama, the game against DRX. DRX was not messing around one bit, winning map one with a score of 13-1. This was quite a one-sided affair against Fnatic. Knowing that another map loss would knock them out of the tournament, Fnatic took the next two maps, winning the tie 2-1.
Fnatic now faces off against Loud in the lower bracket round 3. Loud vs. Fnatic 3 is a match many cannot wait to see. It is the rubber match-up between these teams, with both having one win against the other. The winner of this game goes to the lower finals. It does seem like Fnatic is slightly more favored to win in this match-up. If Loud could repeat a dominant performance like on Lotus, maybe, just maybe, they could win and push forward in the tournament.
Will the Cinderella run for Evil Geniuses continue to the Grand Final?
If someone had said Evil Geniuses would make it into the top 4 of VCT Champions 2023, many would have laughed at that opinion. But this team, filled with underdogs, has stuck together and done the impossible. Since their run-in at VCT Masters Tokyo, Evil Geniuses haven’t looked like they’re slowing down. They went in all guns blazing, winning both their games in the group stages 2-0 against the likes of FUT Esports and FPX China. Coming into the tournament, Evil Geniuses became the talk of the town with their trash taking in and outside the game. Downplaying the efforts of the region of China, many couldn’t wait after the playoff draw was announced as EG vs. Edward Gaming.
Edward Gaming tried their level best to shut things down, but EG were simply trash-talking them by winning map one. Knowing they had to prove their point, Evil Geniuses came back with a bang, defeating Edward Gaming 2-1. In their next series, many wondered if Evil Geniuses could counter the slow and methodologic playstyle of DRX. They not only countered it but did so in a very dominating fashion. Winning the Tie 2-0 in EG’s favor and taking them to the upper finals.
Could Paper Rex finally be the first Pacific team to win Champions?
The last team on this list, with a roster who are the embodiment of “W Gaming,” is Paper Rex — they’ve been one of the best teams to watch all year. Paper Rex started the group stage, winning both their games against KRU Esports and Edward Gaming with a pair of commanding 2-0 finishes. Going into the playoffs, they faced off against FUT Esport and again won with a 2-0 scoreline. PRX then faced off against the VCT Americas Champions, Loud.
Loud and PRX hadn’t faced each other at an event before, making this series a first for both teams. Paper Rex took game one after it went into overtime, winning 15-13. But Loud snatched back the control, taking map two with a convincing 13-2 victory. Still, it wasn’t over yet, and in the end, Paper Rex took map 3 the best way they could —being aggressive and bringing chaos. Paper Rex will face Evil Geniuses in the upper final, a rematch of the lower bracket finals at VCT Masters Tokyo. Maybe Paper Rex will win it this time and come closer to cementing their name in the VCT Champions history books.