Written By PeeKay - 2021-11-27
VALORANT Champions is the highest level of competition yet and is the trophy all teams want their hands on. The path to the title will see a GSL format with four groups of four and best of 3 matches. The two best teams from each group will then fight it out in a single elimination playoffs bracket. These are the competing teams from group D:
The teams will play according to this schedule:
The inaugural match of Champions and group D will pit Vision Strikers up against FULL SENSE. The former, Vision Strikers, is a powerhouse from the Korean scene, having won tournament after tournament in the region with a 94% win rate to secure themselves a spot at Champions. International viewers will be familiar with them from the recent VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Playoffs, where they placed an impressive 5th-8th, losing out to eventual winners Gambit Esports.
Vision Strikers have not seen too many roster changes as of late, their most recent one being the addition of ex-NUTURN player Kim "Lakia" Jong-min in July to make a six-man lineup. He has played just two events in a Vision Strikers jersey, including a singular poor map at Masters Berlin, and it will be interesting to see his role in the storied Korean squad. Many eyes will also be on the dynamic duo of Myeongkwan "MaKo" Kim and Yu "BuZz" Byung-chul, who joined the team in May and boast a 1.26 and 1.27 rating respectively and have been crucial to the roster’s success.
Facing them are the Thai squad FULL SENSE, who, like Vision Strikers, have been a top team in their respective region of Thailand. However, they were outperformed by teams like Paper Rex and Thai compatriots X10 Crit and failed to gather enough VCT points to automatically make Champions, which meant they were forced to play the VCT 2021 - APAC Last Chance Qualifier. Under massive pressure, the team won the event, beating NORTHEPTION in the finals to squeeze into Champions.
The Thai squad may go into the tournament as underdogs, but they should not be underestimated by any team. Other than their multiple tournament wins in VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Thailand - Challengers 2 and VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Thailand - Challengers 2, they bleed firepower in Chanawin "JohnOlsen" Nakchain, who has racked up a 1.19 rating and 246 ACS through his career. By his side is a unique player in Kititkawin "PTC" Rattanasukol, who has played on a wide variety of agents, from Jett to Breach, and still holds up a 1.26 rating and 251 ACS. The team has a very unique structure and it will be extremely interesting to watch them play at Champions.
Both teams being from Asia, they have faced each other before at Epulze's Royal SEA Cup, where the Koreans took the series in a clean 2-0 fashion and went on to win the event. Two months on, things are likely to be competitive, with FULL SENSE not only having a completely different roster but also being more confident on the back of recent tournament victories. We are likely to see Haven and Ascent as the comfort picks for Vision Strikers and FULL SENSE respectively, and the decider map seems to be up in the air.
On the other end of the group are Europeans Fnatic and North Americans Cloud9 Blue. The European organization started their stint in competitive VALORANT well, with a win at VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers 2 and second place finishes at First Strike Europe Regional Final, VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers Playoffs, and the prestigious VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Masters Reykjavík. Since then the road to Champions has been turbulent, not capturing any victories or even runner ups, but still qualifying to the biggest event of the year based on their previous laurels.
The team certainly has the pieces to challenge for the Champions title. The mesmerizing performances of Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev and Domagoj "Doma" Fancev from Masters Reykjavik are still on people’s minds, as well as the charismatic personality of in-game leader Jake "Boaster" Howlett. Only time will tell if they can get their form back from the first half of the year and compete against the very best.
One of the very best they will have to overcome is Cloud9 Blue. The North Americans had been underwhelming for the majority of the year, their most notable performances being 2nd and 3rd places VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - North America - Challengers 2 and VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - North America - Challengers Finals respectively back in April. But the squad showed their true potential when it was needed most, powering through the VCT 2021 - North America Last Chance Qualifier and coming out with a ticket to Champions.
Even though the current Cloud9 Blue lineup doesn’t have the experience of attending major VALORANT LANs internationally, some of their players can certainly guide the others. Influential in-game leader Anthony "vanity" Malaspina has already been to Masters Reykjavik wearing a Version1 jersey, while Son "xeta" Seon-ho has played multiple international LANs during his time playing CS:GO. Also, Erick "Xeppaa" Bach and Nathan "leaf" Orf, who lead the Cloud9 scoreboard with a 1.17 and 1.22 rating respectively, have played together with vanity at Chaos before they transitioned to VALORANT from CS:GO, adding to their internal chemistry and coordination.
This is the first time the two teams will go head to head against one another, and while the contest is going to be close, Cloud9 Blue’s recent successes and form will likely give them the confidence needed to be the better team. Both teams have fairly flexible map pools, so the veto is likely to open based on what the teams feel confident on at the moment. The match will definitely be an exciting one, top aimers both sides certain to put on a show.
Will FULL SENSE be able to upset titans Vision Strikers? Will Cloud9 Blue have the edge on Fnatic? Let us know in the comments!
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