VALORANT Champions 2022 Playoffs Preview
The first week of VALORANT Champions 2022 has come to a close and with it the event’s Group Stage. The tournament has seen the world’s top teams bringing their best in an effort to sit atop the VALORANT world.
Most of the pre-tournament favorites survived the Group Stage, but now the margin for error shrinks even further. As the double-elimination Playoffs commence in front of the live crowd in Istanbul, the pressure will only ramp up. Eight teams remain with a shot at VALORANT’s biggest title, but who will rise to the occasion?
First-round opponent: LOUD
To many, this is the surprise of the tournament so far. Over the course of 2022, Leviatán has supplanted KRÜ as the best team in Latin America. Until now, it was unclear if their strong showing at Copenhagen was a fluke or a sign of things to come. Now, we know Leviatán is a team to fear.
Throughout their Group Stage run, Leviatán excelled in their fundamentals and playing together as a cohesive unit. Francisco “kiNgg” Aravena and Fabian “Shyy” Usnayo are playing like a truly elite Deulist duo, and the team is always there to back them up. They drew a familiar face for the first round in LOUD, so we’ll see if they can dominate their neighbors in the same way KRÜ did in previous events.
First-round opponent: Leviatán
Champions has been something of a return to form for LOUD. Following the disappointment of losing in groups at Copenhagen, they’ve looked closer to the team that finished second in Reykjavik. They did fall again at the hands of OpTic, but they took care of business with ease against ZETA Division both times.
Throughout the Group Stage, it was Felipe “Less” Basso who served as the rock for this team. Primarily on the Sentinel role, he was easily their most consistent performer. That will need to change if LOUD have true championship aspirations. Erick “aspas” Santos started to warm up as LOUD got some matches under their belt, but he will need to be a superstar come playoff time.
First-round opponent: FunPlus Phoenix
Once again, DRX has come to an international event and done what they always do: win their group. For the third straight international tournament, they go 2-0, this time without dropping a map. Yes, they were the beneficiaries of a Fnatic opening round loss to 100 Thieves, but it’s hard to actually poke holes in their performance thus far.
During the Group Stage Yu “BuZz” Byung-chul has been the shining star for DRX. He leads the event in both ACS and first kills per round. DRX has at times struggled with matching the star power on other top teams. They’ll need him to keep up that level against FPX and the rest of their opposition if they want to shake off their past playoff woes and make a deep run.
First-round opponent: DRX
The Group Stage for FPX served as a reminder of why no team has been able to win back-to-back international events in VALORANT. It’s incredibly hard to maintain the highest level of play and continue innovating so that your opponents can’t adequately prepare for you.
That being said, a loss to XSET is far from the end of the world. FPX was outclassed in that match, but they bounced back against KRÜ. Given the chance to adjust going into Playoffs, FPX is still one of the tournament favorites. That being said, they only have a day to prep for DRX, so it won’t be shocking if they drop that first match. After their lower-bracket run in Copenhagen, we know this team is resilient, so underestimate them at your own risk.
First-round opponent: Team Liquid
After dropping their first map of the tournament against BOOM Esports, it looked like we might be seeing more Group Stage shenanigans from OpTic. This time, however, they righted the ship in time to secure the opening round win and eventually take first place in Group B. They once again asserted themselves in their rivalry with LOUD and looked well-practiced on Pearl as they did so.
Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker remains the consensus best player in the world at the moment, sporting an insane 1.8 K:D ratio during the Group Stage. It’s the rest of the squad that will need to step up if they want to lift another trophy. In the Playoffs, they’ll go against a red-hot Team Liquid, one of the few teams with the firepower to potentially keep yay in check.
First-round opponent: OpTic Gaming
Nothing was easy about Liquid’s journey to this point. After battling through the EMEA LCQ just to reach Champions, they were placed in arguably the toughest group of the tournament. An opening-round loss to Leviatán had them staring down elimination in matches against two of the most aggressive teams in the world, Edward Gaming and Paper Rex.
Under immense pressure, Liquid has thrived, dispatching EDG and sending home the runners-up from Masters Copenhagen. Historically, it’s been Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom who carried the load, but so far at Champions, Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen has been the star. His impact with the Operator in hand is unmatched, and he’s peaking at just the right time for Liquid to go on a deep run.
First-round opponent: Fnatic
There was a tremendous amount of doubt surrounding NA’s second seed coming into Champions. The last time we saw them, they went out with a whimper in Copenhagen. Despite the talent on this squad, they simply didn’t show up at their first international LAN. Now, they’re out to prove the doubters wrong.
So far, they’ve done just that with dominant showings against both XERXIA and FPX. During the match against FPX in particular, they got a tremendous team performance. Even with Zachary “zekken” Patrone leading the event in damage per round, no one XSET member has carried the team. Instead, every map sees a new player step up. Against FPX, it was Brendan “BcJ” Jensen on Pearl and Rory “dephh” Jackson on Breeze. Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban also remains a top performer as XSET looks to shake off their demons and continue the redemption arc.
First-round opponent: XSET
To put it bluntly, Fnatic did not have a good Group Stage. An opening loss to 100 Thieves was followed by a too-close-for-comfort elimination match against Furia. They looked much better as they got their second chance at 100 Thieves, but this was definitely not what you expect from one of the pre-tournament favorites. It’s a continuation of a rollercoaster year for Fnatic.
Obviously, this team is crazy talented. Just look at the duo of Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev and Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder. There aren’t many teams that can match that firepower if they’re operating at full capacity. Unfortunately, Derke just hasn’t quite been the superstar we expect him to be. He looks way more comfortable whenever he gets to play Jett, so we’ll see if Fnatic lean more on that as the tournament progresses. No matter what he plays, Fnatic won’t survive if he isn’t among the best players at Champions.
The VALORANT calendar is rapidly drawing to a close. The field has narrowed from hundreds to start the year to eight remaining teams. One of them will capture lightning in a bottle over the next week and claim the title of Champions of the VALORANT world. All that’s left to do now is sit back and enjoy the show.
The 2022 VALORANT Champions Playoffs kick off their double elimination bracket on September 9th at 10 AM ET as Leviatán takes on LOUD. Stay updated on all the matches as they happen here on Hotspawn. All the action can be viewed on the VALORANT Esports Youtube or Twitch pages.