Written By AashirAhmed - 2022-01-13
EMEA had some of the best performances in VCT 2021, and this statement gained greater significance after Acend was crowned World Champions in the biggest event of the year: VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021. Following that event, the Valorant esports scene noticed a period of inactivity. Teams around the world used this timeframe to revamp and finalize their roster for VCT 2022; despite being only two weeks into the new year, the Valorant Champions Tour is officially back. EMEA is divided into three sub-regions: Europe, CIS, and Turkey. Each of these sub-region hosts its separate open qualifiers with the top four teams from each group in the tournament qualifying for the respective region’s closed qualifiers.
Guild had an eventful 2021, particularly in VCT after they qualified for VCT 2021 - Stage 1 - Europe Masters and managed to finish 3rd amongst the best EMEA teams at the time. In Stage 2, they made the Challengers Playoffs after a 2nd place in VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers 1 and would’ve made it to Masters Reykjavik if it wasn’t for Oxygen Esports taking the close win against them. They started Stage 3 by placing 3rd in VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Europe - Challengers 1 but encountered defeat in the main event barring them from VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Playoffs. Their circuit points in VCT earned them a spot in VCT 2021 - EMEA Last Chance Qualifier as they were amongst the top 10 teams in the scene. Although they didn’t qualify for VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021, their performance managed to turn a lot of heads.
Despite these performances, the organization decided to replace three of its players, finalizing the roster only a couple of days before the start of Stage 1 open qualifiers. Judging by the tournament results, their new roster composition is more lethal than ever before. They executed one sweep after the other, and not even CGN Esports could present formidable opposition with a 13-8 and 13-5 on Haven and Icebox respectively.
In contrast, BIG had poor showings in VCT 2021 with no Challengers qualification throughout each of the three stages. However, they did have several 1st place finishes in Kingdom Calling tournaments and two A1 eSports Valorant Cups. With no changes in the off-season, their roster going into VCT 2022 has been the same since October 2021. In the initial rounds of the tournament, they encountered no difficulties outperforming their opponents. In the Round of 32, they had a close call against StunZin5 with a comeback aiding them on Defense in the decider map. It is worth mentioning that they also caused the biggest upset of the tournament by defeating LDN UTD.
This newly formed team surprised everyone after their run in this tournament. The team was formed after acquiring Reject$’s roster. Prior to this event, the roster had only one participation under Reject$’s name where they placed second in Circuito de Elite - Final. Although they couldn’t execute a perfect sweep for all of their tournament matches, they made it through to the final match against Team Queso, yet another upset of the tournament given the team’s extensive experience with regional tournaments in 2021. It is worth noting that, though this match finished with a 2-0 score to Rebels gaming, the 2nd map went through several rounds of overtime finishing with a 20-18 score.
Like Guild Esports, Team Vitality is reputed in the EMEA scene, especially the France area given their recent victory in VOT France - Finals and a 3rd-4th place in VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers 2 earlier in the year. Following the trend set by other qualifying teams, this tournament was a walk in the park for Team Vitality with only Anorthosis Famagusta Esports forcing the matchup to the decider map.
On the CIS side, a familiar face returned to the scene after a rather disappointing Stage 3 performance. FunPlus Phoenix had a better-than-average Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the VCT, including a 3rd-4th place at VCT 2021 - Stage 1 - Europe Masters, which meant that they were ranked amongst the best teams in the region. Stage 2 also bore similar results with a 1st place in VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers 1; however, they encountered a setback in VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Europe - Challengers Playoffs, which prevented them from qualifying for VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Masters Reykjavík. From that event, they struggled to find momentum – atleast until now with a perfect record in the tournament.
SMARACIS eSports, a Russian team with limited success in 2021, also decided to embark on their comeback journey. Playing with the same roster as the preceding year, they began their VCT journey with an easy qualification in the CIS Challengers and defeat FishkaVTom once again to further their own position. Their first head-to-head took place in RUSH.GG - To Glory #7, where SMARACIS eSports won 13-1 in a Best of 1 match.
Despite officially disbanding in October 2020, the Ukrainan team, aim.attack, seems to be back in the CIS scene. Their VCT 2021 was subpar with nothing better than 5th-6th place in such events, and their best performances were limited to local tournaments within Russia. Their decision to return to the scene with a win in the open qualifiers is admirable, even if the competing roster is slightly different than it was prior to disbanding.
This org-less team was the result of inactive players from teams like FunPlus Phoenix and TN joining together to avoid missing out on any major tournament until they find an organization they like. To everyone’s surprise, however, the team performed extremely well and managed to defeat their opponents without breaking much sweat. A team with players that haven’t previously played in a tournament before, making it through was interesting to watch.
You might remember the name of this team, especially since it was the only Turkish team to ever participate in an international Valorant event: VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Group Stage. Following the losses at the event and a 5th-6th in VCT 2021 - EMEA Last Chance Qualifier, three core members of the roster were declared ‘inactive’ and allowed to look for new opportunities. However, the organization managed to find replacements in the off-season and will be using these qualification tournaments to find their way back to becoming a reputed EMEA team. Even though, a majority of the roster has come together in recent months, they faced no difficulties from their opposition during any matchup throughout the tournament even against the likes of Surreal Esports.
1907 Fenerbahçe, also known as Fenerbahçe Esports, was a regular participant at the Challenger events at least until Stage 2 of VCT because the roster underwent a complete revamp. The new roster encountered issues earning an equal amount of fame for the organization that the former roster had done relatively easily. Their performance in local tournaments was also compromised; however, their tournament run might signal their impending return to the scene. Except for one matchup, they managed to take down their opponents without losing a single map courtesy of Efe "Elite" Teber’s performance with 1.41 rating and 280 ACS.
A team that never made it past Round of 64 in a VCT tournament has now qualified for their first ever closed qualifiers in VCT 2022. A glance at their tournament results history reveals more than a few 5th-8th place finishes in RUSH.GG tournaments. Unlike other qualified teams, 2L8 did have close calls with elimination on more than one occasion including the last match of the tournament itself against Thunderbolts Gaming, where the first two maps went into overtime after 2L8 engaged in a comeback from being down 3-9 in the first half. Although 2L8 was able to secure only one of the two maps, the comeback was the sole reason behind their qualification, which means that they will need to analyse their strategy and avoid worst case scenarios from developing earlier on in the matchup.
Galakticos also managed to qualify for VCT 2022 - Turkey- Stage 1 - Closed Qualifier 1 despite matchups against Oxxgen Esports and Eternal Fire. Both of these teams were no match for Galakticos, who didn’t let either of these teams enter double figures on the maps they played on. Except for Challengers qualification in the 1st stage of VCT 2021, they had no success in the following VCT Stages, and neither in local tournaments with the closest they ever came being a 5th-6th place at Open Fire Last Call Valorant Invitational.
In the three open-qualifiers, the biggest upset was LDN Utd missing the qualification spot. They were at their peak in terms of performance in recent tournaments, with a 1st place finish at LVP - Rising Series - #4 - Main Event and Meta Open Valorant, as well as a 5th-8th place at Red Bull Home Ground #2 - Main Event against some of the biggest names in the region. Their loss against BIG featured a close victory on Haven, whereas Ascent and Icebox were relatively easy takes for BIG. Another upset in the tournament was Team Heretics who were beaten in round of 128 by Valar Morghulis. It definitely is not the start the team wanted with the two new Danish players coming from their CSGO professional careers but they will surely be a team to keep an eye out for the 2nd Qualifiers
The closed qualifiers for each EMEA region are set to start in a few hours and here is what the closed qualifier playoffs look like:
Europe 18:00 CET:
Turkey 16:00 CET:
CIS 16:00 CET:
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