The four remaining VALORANT teams in the VCT EU Stage Three Challengers One bracket still have plenty to fight for: bragging rights, a better seed, and the largest share of a €35,000 prize pool. But the top four squads at Challengers One have done the bare minimum needed to secure a spot at the EMEA Challengers Playoffs in August.
The EMEA Challengers Playoffs will determine which teams will represent Europe, Turkey, and/or the CIS regions at VCT Masters Berlin. Here are the four European teams that have already secured their spots in the EMEA Challengers Playoffs.
The new European super team has lived up to the high expectations in their first run together. Their level of play has been impressive and they’re the only team of the four that’s qualified already to do so via the open qualifier—the rest received direct invites to the closed qualifier.
Less than a year ago, it would have been surprising to see a team of G2’s caliber having to qualify for an official event via an open qualifier. Closing out 2020, G2 were considered one of the best teams not just in Europe, but in the world. But that level of play didn’t translate over to the first two VCT stages, partly due to falling victim to the lackluster format of EU Challengers events in Stage One (literally just a single knockout series for each team). But Stage Two wasn’t much better for G2, who fell in the first open qualifier and then lost to Fnatic in the first round of Challengers Two.
Prior to having to play an open qualifier in Stage Three, they completely swapped out the roster around mixwell, adding AvovA and nukkye from Team Heretics, koldamenta from Acend, and rounding out the group with keloqz. But they went undefeated in the open and closed qualifier, capping that off with a 2-0 revenge win against Fnatic. Their only hiccup was a tough loss to FunPlus Phoenix, sending them down to the Challengers One lower bracket, but they rallied with a win over Rix.GG and then another 2-0 win over Fnatic.
The original European super team, FunPlus Phoenix have shown incredible resolve in situations with their backs against the wall during this Stage Three run. Now, the players look to finally get that elusive landmark win to send them to Berlin.
FPX have consistently been a placeholder in the top tier of European VALORANT going as far back as First Strike last year. They’ve been a part of every Challengers event in both stages and have always qualified for the final event in each stage. But as good as they’ve been, they’ve always fallen just short at every event, including semifinal finishes at First Strike and Masters One and a group stage exit at the EMEA Challengers Final.
Prior to the start of Stage Three, FPX looked to give themselves a mental edge by hiring a sports psychologist, a move that’s helped a team like Astralis overcome those final hurdles and take over the CS:GO world. So far in Challengers One, they’ve shown killer instinct by beating G2 and Team Liquid. They’re the only team to have beaten the new G2 so far and they knocked out a Reykjavík representative in Liquid. They might have beaten Acend if not for one unstoppable Jett player…
This is cNed’s world and we’re all just living in it. The Turkish Jett star is rapidly making his case to be considered one of the best VALORANT players in the world, while also guiding Acend toward a potential spot in Berlin.
The Acend roster arrived on the scene at the end of Stage One under the Raise Your Edge Gaming banner. After qualifying for Challengers Three via the open qualifier, cNed introduced himself to the world with an MVP performance against OG to notch a spot in Masters One. There, after an opening loss to Ninjas in Pyjamas, Acend won four straight series, including a five-map slugfest in the grand finals against Team Heretics to claim victory. The same level of magic wasn’t there in Stage Two, though, failing to make it out of both Challengers events. To make matters worse, G2 sniped koldamenta from their roster before the start of Stage Three.
But after grabbing zeek once he was left off the G2 squad, Acend have gone on a dominant run in Challengers One, losing only one map and winning their other six all by a comfortable margin. As solid as the rest of Acend has been, especially new addition zeek, cNed is unquestionably the star, leading the field of players in ACS, KD, and ADR in both the closed qualifier and the main event.
The Swedish roster operating under the U.K. banner is playing its best VALORANT as of yet after coming so close to Reykjavík at the end of Stage Two. The team opted to keep the roster the same after considering various options, and so far, the familiar course has produced some smooth sailing.
Guild were a late bloomer in both of the first two VCT stages. In Stage One, they fell short at Challengers One and the Challengers Two qualifier but played spectacularly in Challengers Three en route to a semifinal appearance at Masters One. Then, in Stage Two, they made it to the grand finals of Challengers One to reach the EMEA Challengers Finals, where they fell in the last match of their group stage.
Prior to the start of Stage Three, the team moved draken to the inactive roster in search of a replacement but opted to bring him back right before matches started after weighing their options. His versatility between agents like Viper, Omen, and Jett provides the support players like Yacine and Leo need to thrive atop the scoreboard. Guild beat BK ROG, FPX, Team BDS, and Fnatic to secure their EMEA Challengers Playoffs spot, as well at least a third-place finish at Challengers One.