The first stage of the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour campaign is set to conclude at VCT Masters Reykjavík. The circuit returns to Iceland to pit 12 teams against each other beginning April 10.
The four top seeds from the major regions (NA, EMEA, APAC, and Brazil/LATAM) have received direct byes to playoffs, while the remaining eight teams will take part in a group stage to fill the final four spots in the double-elimination bracket.
Is this format fair to the other teams? Who’s a reliable pick to make it through groups from the likes of OpTic, Fnatic, Liquid, and others? Who’s our choice to win the whole thing? We asked a collection of our VALORANT writers these questions and more ahead of VCT Masters Reykjavík.
Thoughts on the format?
George Geddes: Format is awful. Considering almost every team is on relatively the same level, it seems unreasonable to give some teams an inherent advantage. Several teams are given direct invites to the playoff stage without having to slug through the group stage. I completely disagree with Korea only having one slot and then putting DRX into the group stage.
Scott Robertson: It’s not perfect. I’m glad teams that won their respective Challengers events get rewarded, but this seems like too much, and also doesn’t reward the regions that send one team like ZETA DIVISION or DRX. Also the LATAM-vs-Brazil playoff that pits each region’s second-best team against each other determines which of LOUD or KRÜ goes to playoffs? That makes no sense.
Danny Appleford: No matter what format Riot decides on for these types of tournaments there will always be someone who thinks there could be room for adjustments. That being said, the format fits for the time being. The fact that the top seeds from each of the Major regions are rewarded for their performance is the highlight of the format. It shows teams will be rewarded in the future for being the best in their respective regions.
Jalen Lopez: I’m not a huge fan of the format. It makes sense to reward teams that won the Challengers events in their regions, but completely skipping the group stage seems like a bit much. I’d prefer seeing all teams battle it out in the group stage to show which teams are the dominant international force.
Max Katz: I do not think this format is good at all. I agree with Jalen; skipping the group stage is a bit too much of an advantage. On top of that, teams not knowing beforehand that being the top seed grants them a bye to the playoffs is frustrating and shows the lack of communication from Riot.
Who’s the safe bet to make it through the group stage?
George: OpTic, not even close. All of them have tons of LAN experience and they know what to do. It’s just whether they show up on the day. With the help of Jovi, I believe it’ll be even easier.
Scott: OpTic. The structure and strats Chet has brought to the OpTic roster are going to be key to the group’s success in this group stage. They’ve also got an ax to grind with XERXIA, who famously knocked them out of Champions under the X10 banner. OpTic also share a group with KRÜ and Liquid, and it’s asking a lot for KRÜ to repeat their magic from Champions. Plus, Liquid have struggled against the very best teams in recent memory.
Danny: Group A is a huge question mark for me, especially with the issues surrounding Fnatic recently. Fnatic are not guaranteed to win in their group with their substitutions and COVID complications, but DRX have the capability to pull off something special. This isn’t the first time we have seen these Korean players at a LAN either; I am looking at Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan to bring his international LAN experience to the team.
Jalen: I have to go with OpTic. Group A is brutal, and I can’t say for sure which team will make it through that gauntlet. I think OpTic can make it through XERXIA and either KRÜ or Liquid. OpTic’s roster can perform at live events without issue. They have the proper motivation to take out XERXIA, and Liquid made it to Iceland by default. The second team qualifying in Group B is anyone’s guess.
Max: Have to agree with everyone else in saying OpTic. All of them are experienced players and have been here and done that before. It’ll be easy for them.
Who’s your pick to win it all?
George: KRÜ Esports. Vamos a jugar. KRÜ were one of the teams that surprised the world when they defeated Fnatic and Sentinels at Champions. They do not mess around.
Scott: I’ve been sleeping on The Guard for too long in the NA playoffs—no more! This team is clutch, full of players who can hit big shots, they play well together under the direction of one of the most highly regarded coaches, and they’re only getting better. My biggest knock on them before NA playoffs was they hadn’t beaten an elite team yet, but they proved themselves with wins against Sentinels, C9, and OpTic when it mattered.
Danny: As much as I would like to see a NA team win Masters I think that the competition is too strong for them to actually pull it off. I am looking at either DRX or Liquid to make something magical happen. We have seen what Korea can do at these events like at Champions when we say Vision Strikers take maps off Fnatic and Cloud9. We have also seen Liquid come so close to making it. Either team I believe has the opportunity to win it here.
Jalen: The Guard, and not just because I want an NA team to win. They’ve taken out multiple heavy hitters in their region despite being overlooked by almost everyone. Each player can easily carry their team as needed, and I firmly believe they can continue performing on the international stage.
Max: I think OpTic will win it all. They are the most experienced team on LAN in this tournament, with years of prior FPS experience. Their experience will carry them through this event and result in a win. Despite falling short in NA VCT, OpTic’s veteran presence will give them the upper hand over The Guard.
What team not here at Reykjavík do you expect to be at the next Masters?
George: FPX and Cloud9. The former is the best in Europe, while the latter was the best in North America prior to The Guard overthrowing the North American giants.
Scott: By default I feel like I have to say FPX. It’s terrible that outstanding circumstances prevented them from attending, because they were finally firing on all cylinders during the EMEA Challengers one main event. If not them, then Cloud9; they were so good throughout the NA Challengers Stage, and it’s unlikely they’re going to get any worse.
Danny: I expect to see another North American team at the next Masters. There is a lot of untapped talent in NA currently and with teams like OpTic and The Guard being so close in skill level. OpTic could have easily been the first steed at Masters One if a few rounds went differently. We could easily see teams like Sentinels, Version1 or Cloud9 who came close to qualifying for Masters One pull things over the line next time.
Jalen: Cloud9. They took out Version1 and XSET in NA Challengers but ultimately fell against The Guard. I still think they can bounce back and reestablish themselves as one of the best teams in the region that deserves to make it to the international stage.
Max: I expect Cloud9 to make it through. They have over a month to retool their strategies and refine their protocols to catch up to The Guard and OpTic. With vanity at the helm, I have no doubt they will be at the next Masters.
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