VALORANT Champions: When is Champs and Who Has Qualified?
VALORANT is nearing the end of its first full year of competition, and what a year it’s been. After peaking at over 1 million viewers at the game’s first international LAN event, the 2021 VCT is ready for its dramatic conclusion at Champions in Berlin. We’re going over all the details here, so you don’t miss a thing at the biggest event in VALORANT history.
When is VALORANT Champions?
VALORANT Champions kicks off on December 1st and runs through December 12th. 16 teams will travel to Riot’s Berlin studio from across the globe. The format of the event is yet to be announced, but we know that it will be double elimination. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the qualified teams for Champs.
Who has qualified for VALORANT Champions?
Let’s start with the reigning champs from Masters Stage 3. Gambit earned their spot here with a dominant showing at the last international LAN in September. After dropping to 100 Thieves in the Group Stage, this team went on a tear through the playoff bracket, dropping just a single map to Vision Strikers in the quarterfinals. Their 3-0 win over Envy in the Grand Finals proved they have the poise and firepower needed to be the best in the world.
Over the course of 2021, Acend has been one of the most consistent and exciting teams in the world. After missing out on the first international LAN in Reykjavik, they fought back to make it to Masters Berlin before narrowly going out to 100 Thieves in the quarterfinals. Now that they have some LAN experience under their belt, this squad is looking to build on their prior success and breakthrough at Champs.
When Gambit won Masters Berlin, Fnatic were surely among their biggest cheerleaders. In doing so, Gambit claimed another spot at Champs for EMEA. Thanks to their second place finish in Reykjavik, Fnatic had the circuit points to get here without having to fight through the Last Chance Qualifier. The results have been less than stellar for Fnatic since their peak back in May, but they still have the talent to be dangerous.
The winners of the EMEA Last Chance Qualifier enter Champions as one of the hottest teams in the world. After narrowly missing the cut for Masters Berlin, Liquid brought in Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom to help push them over the top. Since then, they’ve had a 19-3 map record across two tournaments. Since the beginning of the year, Liquid has been a team with tremendous potential. If they can reach it at Champions, they could very well lift the trophy when the dust settles.
No team has been better than Sentinels over the course of 2021. They won every major event in North America and claimed VALORANT’s first international title. Their quarterfinal showing at Masters Berlin was truly the first time they looked even somewhat mortal. At Champions, they’re back to prove that was a fluke and to reclaim their spot atop the VALORANT world. Underestimate them at your own peril.
North America’s second seed were the surprise upstarts of Masters Berlin. After cruising through an easy group, they overcame their demons and finally took down Sentinels when it mattered most. Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker was the breakout star of the tournament, and Envy will be relying on a similar performance from their superstar duelist at Champs. The big question here is whether they can handle international juggernauts the same way they did their NA compatriots.
In a similar case to Liquid, C9 were always a team that showed promise, even when they were losing. After narrowly missing out on Reykjavik, however, they bombed out of the qualifiers for Masters Berlin. A change was needed, and it came in the form of Anthony “vanity” Malaspina. The in-game leader reunited with his old CS:GO teammates and took C9 on a run through the Last Chance Qualifier. Now, we’ll see if they can maintain that form against stiffer international competition.
One of only three teams to make all three international events in 2021, KRÜ have dominated the Latin American region for the entire year. Going back to May, they’ve lost just a single match domestically. On the international stage, they’ve proven themselves a worthy opponent as well, taking down Sharks at Reykjavik and getting out of Groups at Masters Berlin. Champions gives them one last shot to represent their region, and you can bet they’ll make the most of it.
Consistency has been the name of the game for Brazil’s top seed. They won Masters 1, finished 5th-6th at Reykjavik, and 4th in Stage 3 Challengers. They’ve been at or near the top of the Brazilian scene all year long, but they’ve yet to show an ability to punch above their weight against top competition from NA and EU. There’s talent enough for some upsets here, but it will require them to step up their game on the biggest stage yet.
If there’s hope for a Brazilian team breaking through at Champions, it likely lies with Vivo Keyd. This is a team looking to avenge their disappointing Group Stage exit at Masters Berlin, but this time they’ve got a little extra help. Leonardo “mwzera” Serrati has been one of the most hyped individual players in the Brazilian scene since the game’s release. Now, he joins Vivo Keyd for their Champions run, and fans get a taste of his electrifying duelist play.
At both previous international events, FURIA were the last team eliminated in the Brazilian qualifiers. Thanks to a great run in the South American Last Chance Qualifier, they finally get their chance to meet the world’s best on LAN. Agustin “Nozwerr” Ibarra has shown himself to be an elite Sova player throughout their 2021 campaign, but Brazil has struggled internationally so far. Now, FURIA seeks redemption for the region as a whole.
The only Korean team at Champions, Vision Strikers carry the weight of esports’ most storied country on their backs. Long known for inventive set plays and unique strategies, Vision Strikers also brings tremendous firepower to the table in players like Yu “Buzz” Byung-chul and Kim “Mako” Myeong-kwan. They had the bad luck of running up against Gambit in the quarterfinals of Masters Berlin, but they were the only team to take a map off them in the playoffs. Champs will give them one last shot to prove themselves.
Crazy Racoon are becoming a household name in the VALORANT scene at this point. The Japanese/Korean squad has consistently been at the top of the Japanese circuit all year long, attending all three international events. They even shocked the world when they took down Havan Liberty and nearly stole a map away from Gambit at Masters Berlin. Expectations remain low considering Japan’s newcomer status to FPS games in general, but Crazy Racoon is here to compete.
Fans may remember X10 from their time at Masters Reykjavik, where they delighted with a high-octane style. Their gameplay wasn’t always the cleanest we’ve seen, but they approached the tournament with a fearlessness that is admirable from a less-developed region. If you find yourself tuning into X10’s matches, keep your eyes on Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong. The 18-year-old phenom is reportedly making Champions his last tournament in VALORANT before he joins the LA Gladiators of the Overwatch League next year. He’s sure to go out with a bang in Berlin.
The name is fitting for a team that we’ve yet to see on the international stage despite the fact that they qualified for Masters Berlin. Pandemic travel restrictions kept the Filipino squad from making the trip, but they still earned the circuit points needed to qualify for Champions. Their results domestically don’t suggest a team in their best form heading into Champs, but it’s hard to know what to expect until they take the stage.
When the time came for the APAC Last Chance Qualifier, the assumption was that a second Korean team would secure the slot. Instead, teams like NUTURN, F4Q, and Damwon found themselves on the losing end of stunning upsets. The finals saw star duelist Chanawin “JohnOlsen” Nakchain lead FULL SENSE to a five-map victory over Japanese team Northeption. This team is riding high after a thrilling LCQ run, but they’ll still be underdogs on the international stage.