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Which Region will Rise at VCT Masters Madrid?

Zakaria Almughrabi

VALORANT’s first international tournament of 2024, VCT Masters Madrid, begins on March 14. This LAN will feature eight teams, two from each of the four major competitive regions. Teams qualified through placement in their respective regional Kickoff tournaments. This is the first time that the year’s first LAN has had this qualification structure. It’s also the first time China will compete as fully integrated members of the Riot’s VCT League system.

KC VCT Masters Madrid

Image Credit Riot Games | Wojciech Wandzel

VCT Masters Madrid is potentially the most prominent international benchmark in the game’s short history. Every team enters on equal ground, with all the decidedly best their regions have to offer. The opening stage is also Swiss format, with no inter-regional matches in round one. We’ll be seeing international value from the get-go and likely throughout the entire tournament.

In the regional Kickoffs, we saw some familiar faces cruise to qualification and some new challengers hoping to make their mark on the international stage. Who is looking to take VCT Masters Madrid by storm, and who could make a run as a dark horse?


The biggest surprise of the VCT Kickoff events comes from the EMEA region. Their undisputed best team, Fnatic, came into 2024 with the same roster, looking to run it back. They expressed the goal of winning all three LANs this year, so the VALORANT world was shocked when they didn’t qualify for the first one. In Fnatic’s place rose Karmine Corp. The French org made big moves in the off-season, dropping their existing roster for a brand new one.

This new KC was made up of players from five different teams. They appeared to stumble early, dropping to the Decider Match in their group at Kickoff. After narrowly escaping, they outperformed their opposition in the Play-In to qualify for the Playoffs. There, they found themselves matched against Fnatic. Most thought that was it for KC at Kickoff. The top four was already great for the brand-new roster. No one expected what came next.

Karmine Corp outplayed Fnatic completely in the LAN qualification match. Europe’s former kings were blindsided by the upstarts. It wasn’t off the back of gimmicks or raw firepower alone; KC looked like the superior team throughout. They continued that form into Finals, besting Team Heretics in four maps to claim the EMEA Kickoff title.

The Torch is Passed

Speaking of Team Heretics, they’re the other big surprise from EMEA. This team is young, very young. They only have one player older than 19. Heretics had an easy group on paper. They narrowly edged out a middling FUT Esports before crushing Karmine Corp in the Winners’ Match. Like KC, Heretics had to fight an EMEA giant in Natus Vincere for their spot at Madrid. Also, like KC, Heretics had little issue doing so.

“New blood” is the perfect descriptor of EMEA at VCT Masters Madrid. Karmine Corp and Team Heretics have big shoes to fill. For the longest time, EMEA was named a one-team region. Now, that one team isn’t here to represent them on the world stage. Is this a new dawn for EMEA as a potential powerhouse region, or are they still a step behind the pack?


The Americas region stayed pretty consistent between seasons with one significant outlier. Evil Geniuses, the reigning 2023 VALORANT world champions, completely broke apart in the off-season. Their top-of-the-line players are dispersed across a few teams. In the end, however, not a single former EG player made it to VCT Masters Madrid.

North American favorite NRG received two of those EG players. Combined with a strong existing core, NRG was expected to easily make it to LAN. Instead, they fell by the wayside as Sentinels rose to take their place.

We’ve already talked in depth about Sentinels. The short version is that this new look SEN led by Amine “johnqt” Ouarid looks transformed from their previous years’ lackluster form. Their players already had the mechanical prowess, and now the team has the tactical prowess as well. Sentinels ran the most challenging gauntlet possible, besting NRG and LOUD to claim the VCT Americas Kickoff title.

Fan Favorites Through

The other team representing the Americas is LOUD. The Brazilian giants didn’t go anywhere, mainly keeping the same team from their strong 2023 campaign. Their run to Madrid was straightforward. Wins over Sentinels and Leviatan in the Group Stage put them through to the playoffs, where they drew the easiest matchup against Evil Geniuses. LOUD confidently put the reconstructed roster to bed in three maps, keeping their perfect VCT LAN attendance record intact.

Of all the teams attending VCT Masters Madrid, LOUD might be the safest bet for a playoff appearance. They have endless international experience on the biggest stages VALORANT has to offer. While Sentinels beat them in Americas Finals, it was a five-map affair. Still, if Sentinels can adapt quickly to the fast-paced LAN atmosphere, they could easily be the true title contenders from the Americas.


In terms of storylines, the VCT Pacific Kickoff was a mix between EMEA and the Americas. On one side, we have Paper Rex. This giant of the region came into 2024 in the same manner as LOUD. Only one player was changed from their VALORANT Champions 2023 roster. While LOUD got third at Champs, Paper Rex was the runner-up. They wanted to keep that momentum going and qualify for another LAN.

As the top seed, PRX got the three-team group at Kickoff. They only needed to win one match to make Playoffs and did so at the expense of Gen.G. Once in playoffs, Paper Rex was matched up against T1. Although T1 made a valiant attempt, forcing overtime on PRX’s map, they couldn’t compete against the Pacific favorites. A 2-0 win qualified Paper Rex for VCT Madrid in record time.

As for the other team to qualify, everyone expected it to be DRX. DRX was the other Pacific team with a bevy of international prestige to their name. They also had a primarily unchanged roster from last year and quickly swept their group to make Playoffs easily. They even dodged Paper Rex in the draft, making their chances at Madrid very high.

A Bit of Old, a Bit of New

Instead, DRX felt the same shock that Fnatic felt at the hands of Karmine Corp. In stormed Gen.G, a completely rebuilt team coming into 2024. Their new roster comprised players from four different teams plus a no-name ranked ladder warrior. While Gen.G did lose to Paper Rex in groups, they showed great skill and cohesion, enough to take a map. They ramped up even more in the Play-In, qualifying for Playoffs with momentum.

Against DRX, Gen.G was able to steal their Bind pick in overtime before dominating Lotus to claim the Madrid spot. As if this wasn’t amazing enough, Gen.G destroyed Paper Rex in the Finals to claim the Pacific Kickoff title.

Gen.G has skyrocketed to the top of the Pacific ecosystem at blazing speed. While they’re still a “new” roster, their form is ready to take on the world. It’s very likely that Gen.G is the team that turns the most heads as they look to establish their name on the world stage. And, of course, the always-consistent Paper Rex is right behind them, looking to make another deep LAN run.

GenG VCT Masters Madrid

Gen.G is one of the hottest teams coming into VCT Masters Madrid. Can they keep it up at their first VALORANT LAN? (Image Credit Riot Games)


In a feat of extreme irony, the newest region to the VCT world ecosystem is the only region that is sending two teams that both qualified for the previous LAN, VALORANT Champions 2023. Leading the way is EDward Gaming, the team that put Chinese VALORANT on the map last year. They made history, becoming the first Chinese roster to make playoffs at a VCT LAN. Now, they want to be the first Chinese VCT winners as well.

EDward Gaming kept the same trailblazing roster for the 2024 season. Much like Paper Rex, EDG had the easy seed in the three-team group. They had a bit of trouble closing out against Wolves Esports, but they got the job done in three long maps. In the Playoffs, EDG was ready for whoever they had to face. Their opponent was Trace Esports, a consistent top performer from last year.

EDG stole Trace’s Sunset pick away in overtime before destroying them on Bind, securing another LAN appearance for China’s darlings. Additionally, EDG became the only pre-tournament favorite to win their regional kickoff. The Finals against FunPlus Phoenix featured two overtime maps, both of which were won by EDG.

How Consistent Can They Be?

Despite the frustrating loss, FPX is also glad to be returning to international competition so quickly. Unlike EDG, FPX’s performance at Champs was lackluster, causing them to make roster changes coming into the new season. Still, they maintained a solid three-man core to build around. FPX topped their group after besting Trace Esports in a tight best-of-three. From there, they used a favorable draw and dispatched Dragon Ranger Gaming 2-0 to qualify for Madrid.

VCT Masters Madrid is going to be a huge test. EDG and FPX both have international experience now. If the best that China has to offer shows notable improvement now that its ecosystem is entirely in place and aligned with the rest of the VALORANT world, it could be rising to the top sooner rather than later.