VCT Masters Two Reykjavik Preview: VALORANT’s First International LAN
While two to three weeks of waiting isn’t inherently too unbearable, with the rate at which we’ve been treated to VALORANT events, it’s felt like an eternity. But finally, the field is set for VCT Masters Reykjavik, the first-ever international VALORANT LAN. Reykjavik will bring the second stage of the VALORANT Champions Tour to a close, as teams representing multiple regions will face off against each other in a LAN environment.
So much attention has been on teams from North America and Europe, and rightly so, given the level of play that’s been seen. But ahead of the first matches in Reykjavik, we’re previewing all ten teams from around the world that will be competing at VCT Masters Reykjavik. As Phoenix would say, let’s break it down.
Aside from a hiccup in the open qualifier for stage two Challengers One, Sentinels has dominated North American VALORANT for the entirety of the VALORANT Champions Tour. They’ve responded to a last-minute roaster change, the sudden rise of several hot NA teams, and a shifting meta. All while operating with little to no rest in between events. Still, the team’s claimed two domestic titles in Masters One and the stage two Challengers Finals.
The break the team had between the Challengers Final and Reykjavik is the longest they’ve had since the VCT started. With that time, they can refine the things that have gotten them here. The three-headed dragon of ShahZaM, TenZ, and SicK are each more than capable of having a stellar showing. They can also each switch between agents with no drop-off in production. TenZ’s playmaking ability has fit perfectly into the Sentinels playbook since joining just prior to Masters one. The perfect fit looks to add a cherry on top of a blossoming squad at VCT Masters Reykjavik.
Version1 was considered an underdog heading into the NA Challengers Finals. It had a shorter track record together than other teams and had to bring in a last-minute substitute in wippie. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, no one remembers to tell that to Version1. The team went on a dazzling lower bracket run where they edged out numerous impressive opponents en route to a spot in Reykjavik.
Wippie’s debut for Version1 was near perfect, as he wowed his teammates with his calm, clutch demeanor. Penny had a breakout tournament, adding his name to the list of star Jett players in North America. Both Zellsis and Effys provided clutch plays throughout the entire tournament run. And they’re led by a calculated, focused vanity at the IGL position. They’ve been thrown another curveball with wippie being unable to travel and compete at VCT Masters Reykjavik, but they’re quite familiar with succeeding following last-minute swaps.
Fnatic’s honeymoon period with the former SUMN FC roster didn’t start too well. They found success in the open qualifiers throughout VCT stage one, but couldn’t cross the finish line in the main events, missing Masters One. However, you could write off the main event losses as products of the format of those events, given they were just a single best-of-three series.
But in stage two Fnatic got off to a rockier start, falling to Alliance in the open qualifiers. The team decided to pull the trigger on some changes, bringing in Derke and magnum to replace Moe40 and tsack. The early results have been exceedingly positive for Fnatic’s VALORANT roster. Derke is one of Europe’s best all-around duelists, frequently topping the scoreboard for Fnatic with unreal fragging output alongside doma. MAGNUM is a solid support rock, making smart plays for his teammates on both Killjoy and Skye. The entire team is playing on a different level compared to stage one. They didn’t drop a single map in the EMEA Challengers Finals until the grand finals against Team Liquid. Speaking of…
When Team Liquid entered the VALORANT scene, it combined the British roster of Fish123, a top-quality team from the very early days, with CS:GO one-tap superstar Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom. Despite some strong early performances, the team floundered on the official Riot stages, including First Strike and the first stage of the VALORANT Champions Tour. Despite continuous impressive performances from ScreaM, his output wasn’t translating into wins for Liquid.
With Jamppi’s transition to VALORANT given the CS:GO major door was closed to him at the time, came an opportunity for Liquid to inject some firepower into their roster. Jamppi’s raw aiming skill and incredible game sense are a welcome sight on Liquid, as well as his proficiency on the Operator. The ability of both ScreaM and Jamppi to make plays has opened up opportunities for the rest of the team, who are playing splendidly on top of them. Liquid punctuated their EMEA Challengers run with some dominant wins and was the only team to take maps off and beat Fnatic.
NUTURN wasn’t the one to end the Vision Strikers untouchable winning streak, but its victory over them in the Korea Challengers Finals semifinal was far more impactful. The team that dominated the region looked dazed and confused against NUTURN, whose mix of aggressive play, smart utility, and unstoppable retakes paved the way to a grand finals appearance.
Against both Vision Strikers and DAMWON, NUTURN continuously made losing rounds costly for the other team while not allowing any momentum-swinging heroics in rounds it had an advantage in. The team is led by an incredibly wise veteran in Keun-chul “solo” Kang, who has well over a decade of professional Counter-Strike experience. Solo formed and has led the team to an incredible achievement, and now has the honor of representing a rapidly growing region on the world stage for the first time. A well-deserved honor at VCT Masters Reykjavik for one of the most dedicated tactical FPS players.
Similar to NUTURN, Crazy Raccoon had to cross paths with a lone team at the top of a fledgling region, this time in Japan. Absolute JUPITER had been absolutely dominating Japan from when they arrived in VALORANT in April 2020. Almost identically to Vision Strikers in Korea, Absolute was one of the few remaining competitive CS:GO teams in Japan prior to switching to VALORANT. This put them a step ahead over teams with players who were new to this type of FPS game.
Their kryptonite has arrived in the form of Crazy Raccoon, a roster of both Japanese and South Korean players from all types of games. This includes players with backgrounds in Fortnite, Overwatch, and H1Z1. Of those former players is Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon, who previously played in OWL for Seoul Dynasty and had a brief stint in Boston Uprising. Their CS:GO experience, like with NUTURN, comes from a veteran with years of experience in Yusuke “neth” Matsuda. This collection of talent has stuck it to JUPITER on numerous occasions. Absolute JUPITER have only lost three series in all of 2021, and they were all to Crazy Raccoon, including the upper finals and the grand finals of the Challengers Finals.
Southeast Asia has never had a massive foothold in competitive tactical shooters including CS:GO. This region does feature a healthy amount of domestic and regional competition, but rarely if ever has a team from SEA made a splash on the international scene. On the contrary, Southeast Asian teams have made themselves known on the international stages of both LoL and Dota 2, especially Dota.
But there’s no reason for any team competing at Master 2 to discount X10 Esports out of Thailand. Throughout the entirety of the first two stage of the VALORANT Champions Tour, they’ve only lost two series total, and have won their last 13. Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong, a former Overwatch pro, has been the primary source of frags for the team with some dazzling Jett play. He’s only been a part of the team for just over a month too, and has already been a huge difference-maker.
Team Vikings and Sharks Esports
I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t had the time to watch too much Brazilian VALORANT, but I’m well aware of what potential the region can bring. Never forget that in 2016 and 2017, Brazil was at the top of Counter-Strike with the legendary SK/Luminosity roster. And even now, the region is still extremely competitive at the international level between teams like FURIA, MIBR, and O PLANO. In addition, many of the world’s best Siege teams feature Brazilian rosters. That being said, the same level of migration VALORANT saw with NA pros wasn’t quite replicated in Brazil.
However, this doesn’t mean that the talent in VALORANT isn’t there in Brazil, or that teams should be taking either Vikings or Sharks lightly. Those that do usually end up losing limbs. Bad jokes aside, both squads are looking really good, and showed up for two terrific series at the BR Challengers Finals. Team Vikings came away with the win in both series, and will look to carry their momentum to VCT Masters Reykjavik. Sharks will look to redeem themselves against international competition in hopes of sending a message to their domestic rival.
Lastly and certainly not least we have KRU Esports, the final team to qualify for Master Reykjavik. KRU are showing a consistency in stage two, unlike their stage one run. A lot of that is due to their newest additions in Benjamin “bnj” Rabinovich and Joaquín Ignacio “delz1k” Espinoza Soto. Since bringing them in in late March, the team has only lost one series in all of stage two, and that was during open qualifiers.
They only dropped two maps during the Latin American Challengers Finals, and punctuated their victory with a 13-1 stomp on Icebox in the final map of the grand finals. The mix of Chilean and Argentinian players now look ahead to Iceland, and a chance to make a grand impression on a global stage.