The Valorant Last Chance Qualifier Tournaments (LCQ) for the NA, EMEA, SA, and APAC regions have finally concluded. The last four slots filled by the winners of these events make up the total 16 teams that will be competing to be known as the world’s best. Since Riot’s announcement of the tournament circuit back in 2020 fans have been treated with amazing displays of mechanical prowess and teamwork from all teams. There is no doubt that everyone qualified truly represents the best that each region has to offer. However, out of all participating these are 5 teams to look out for in Valorant Champions.
5. Gambit Esports
Hailing from Russia, Gambit, the winners of the latest Stage 3 VCT Masters in Berlin, is now arguably the team to beat. The team put on a show in the LAN event and only lost once in the group stage to 100 Thieves. They bounced back from the loss and dominated the rest of the tournament, dishing out a 13-0 on icebox to G2 in the semis, and sweeping ENVY 3-0 in the finals.
The team consists of nAts, d3effo, Chronicle, Sheydos, and Redgar. They are also coached by Engh. Gambit has accumulated 470 VCT points over the course of the Champions Tour. They won first place in both Masters 1, and Masters 3. However, they lost to Fnatic in the Semis of Stage 2 Challengers which prevented them from qualifying in Masters 2 in Iceland Reykjavík. The team looks to defend their crown as the world’s best.
Helping the effort will be nAts who was 3rd in damage dealt among all participating players in VCT Berlin. To put this into perspective, the rest of the top 5 included players such as yay, heat, TenZ, and cNed. These players primarily play duelist, with nAts being the only sentinel main.
Full sending their way into Champions is Sentinels. Until Gambit won in Berlin, this team was considered to be the best in the world. They won Masters 1 within their own region after the acquisition of TenZ from Cloud9 Blue. Furthermore, they won Masters 2 in Reykjavik without dropping a single map, showing their dominance at the time. However, they put up a lackluster performance in Berlin, losing 0-2 to ENVY in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
The team consists of TenZ, ShahZaM, SicK, zombs, and dapr. They currently have no coach. There is no denying the star power that this team holds. They have accumulated a total of 775 VCT points, the most among all teams across all regions. Outside of TenZ’s sheer mechanical skill, and ShahZaM as their IGL and duelist, everyone in the team is capable of fragging out and leading their team to victory. However, it is true that other teams have caught up to them, seen especially in Berlin. What will be interesting to see is how Sentinels adapt in preparation for Champions. Will they reclaim their spot as the world’s best?
Fnatic looks to bounce back in Champions after a number of unimpressive performances. The team consists of Boaster, Doma, Mistic, Derke, and Magnum. They are coached by mini. The team accumulated 350 VCT points over the course of the year. Surprisingly, they have not performed particularly well, having not qualified for both Masters 1 and 3. However, they did qualify for the Masters 2 tournament in Reykjavik and faced Sentinels in the finals. All games were close despite being swept 0-3.
It is true that Fnatic avoided participating in the EMEA LCQ tournament because of Gambit’s victory in Berlin. This opened up another slot for the region which allowed them to qualify based on acquired VCT points. It will be interesting to see how Fnatic will try to prove that they belong in the competition. Furthermore, we have not seen the team play in any official matches for quite some time now. This will have given them enough time to prepare and craft new team compositions and strategies. Moreover, this could give them the element of surprise against the unsuspecting competition.
2. Team Secret
The all Filipino team consists of JessieVash, DubsteP, BORKUM, Dispenser, and witz. The whole roster was acquired from the player’s previous organization, Bren Esports. They are coached by Gibo. The team did not have much success until Stage 3 of the Champions Tour. They lost in the quarterfinals of Stage 1 masters, and lower bracket round 3 of Stage 2 challengers. However, they performed exceptionally well in the qualifiers for Berlin, earning the region’s #1 seed after beating Paper Rex 3-0 in the finals.
Unfortunately, the team was not able to compete in Masters 3 in Berlin due to problems with securing a visa which led to their disqualification from the tournament. However, they received 175 out of their total 225 VCT points which allowed them to secure a spot in Champions. Team Secret will hold a similar advantage that Fnatic has.
Outside of their participation in the challengers events in their region, we have not seen this team in cross regional play. Furthermore, they have not played an official match since the Berlin Qualifiers. It will be interesting to see how Team Secret will surprise teams that have not played them yet. Furthermore, it will be exciting to see how this team will make the most of its first international experience, bearing in mind their disqualification in Berlin.
1. Team Liquid
Team Liquid had a rocky road on their way to Champions. The team consists of soulcas, L1NK, ScreaM, Jammpi, and Nivera. They are coached by Sliggy. The team lost in the qualifiers of the Stage 1 Challengers 1 tournament, as well as in the Stage 3 Challengers playoffs tournament. They did qualify for the Masters 2 event as the region’s 1st seed. However, they lost to Fnatic in the semifinals of the tourney. Although they had collected 300 VCT points, this was not enough to secure them a slot in Champions. They had to compete in the LCQ for EMEA’s last spot. In the end, they won in the finals 3-1 against Guild Esports.
What is particularly interesting about Team Liquid is that prior to the LCQ they made a major roster change. They replaced Kryptix, and signed Nivera who had just retired from CS:GO due to Valve banning six man rosters of which he was a part of. Other teams will have to be careful of this dark horse. The team has shown remarkable improvement during the LCQ compared to their previous appearances. They switched up their team compositions, and also seem to be running a double operator setup that is rarely seen in pro play. Not to mention the addition of Nivera who for now has been nothing but a positive addition to the team.
The Valorant Champions tournament is set to happen from December 1-12, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.