VALORANT Champions Group A Preview
11/27/2021, 8:00:00 AM
Champions is the first-ever international finale for VALORANT esports (December 1-12). This year, teams have grinded through the first VALORANT Champions Tour circuit with the hopes of being crowned as the best team in the world.
The top two teams from each group will make it into the Knockout Stage, a single-elimination bracket that will decide our VALORANT World Champion.
The Teams for Group A are: Acend, Team Envy, Vivo Keyd, and X10 Crit.
Acend‘s ascent into Champions began with their victory at Europe Masters 1. However, their ascent has been anything but smooth. They did not make it into Masters 2 in Reykjavik, losing in the Europe Challengers 2 Quarterfinals to Team Vitality. While they did make it to Masters 3 in Berlin and into the playoffs, the 70 kills dropped by Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek across the BO3 were not enough to defeat 100 Thieves in the Quarterfinals. Even with this rocky road, Acend will be EMEA’s representative at Champions, having the greatest number of circuit points in their region.
Acend are making moves to ensure a better finish at this international tournament. For example, they were seen experimenting with new compositions, including a Kay/O on certain maps and switching around roles on the team. Recently, they were able to take this experiment into the Finals of the Red Bull Home Ground Tournament though losing to Team Liquid 1:3. The organization has also hired a new analyst for the team (Milan de Meij), hoping that these investments can earn them the trophy.
Consistently hitting 4th place finishes for NA Masters Stage 1 and Challengers Finals Stage 2, Team Envy clearly needed something to help them overcome their struggles in the circuit. Acquiring Jaccob “Yay” Whiteaker from ANDBOX and borrowing Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen from Faze seemed to be just the missing pieces they needed to push them over the edge into a 3rd place finish and earning them a spot at Masters 3 and a chance at Champions. Though they were the third NA seed going into Masters 3, teams were foolish to take them lightly. In the playoffs, Envy were able to stomp on their fellow NA colleagues, both Sentinels and 100 Thieves in 2:0 fashion, into the finals for Masters 3.
Since their run at Masters, they have also acquired a new head coach, Chet “Chet” Singh. It is unclear what this new piece will bring to this dominating team; however, it is clear that Team Envy have a burning desire to avenge their loss at the Masters 3 finals and earn their spot as world champions.
Vivo Keyd is one of three teams representing Brazil at Champions. Also serving as a representative for Brazil at Masters 3, they were unable to get out of group stages and were only able to win maps against Zeta Division. In their inaugural game of the tournament, Envy were able to take down the Brazilian side; however, the star of team, Olavo “Heat” Marcelo, still shined brightly with confidence. Heat dropped 51 kills during the series just overtaking yay at 47. He also dropped 14 first blood kills over yay’s 10. Not only will teams have to watch out for Heat, but Vivo Keyd has recently borrowed Leonardo “mwzera” Serrati, a duelist from Gamelanders Blue. Helping to take the pressure off of Heat to perform or perish. This addition could be the fragging power Vevo Keyd needs to finally get them out of the international group stage and right into the playoffs.
The team clearly took a hit with the loss of their star player, Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong. While he was away recovering from a wrist injury, they were unable to make it out of the group stages for SEA Challengers Stage 3. Even with this struggle, X10 Crit still managed a spot for Champions as a SEA representative based on the points of their earlier performances.
X10 Crit are one of the few teams at Champions we have seen in a competition after Masters 3. Since Patiphan’s recovery and return, the team has been experimenting with his roles beyond the typical Jett duelist. It will be interesting to see what final compositions this team brings to Champions to try to shake things up in Group A.
Since the end of Masters 3 in September, many participating teams have been in the shadows bootcamping and practicing outside of public view. This ample amount of time for study and experimentation makes it difficult to predict what these teams have prepped for Champions and what surprises they have in store. Though typically not having the best performances in international settings, the BR and SEA regions still have the potential to upset highly favored teams. Could the return of Patiphan and the addition of mwzera be enough to upset the group’s favorites, Acend and Envy?
Not only is this THE group to watch for the heavy upset potential, but it is also a highly anticipated battleground of the world’s top Jett players. cNed vs. Heat vs. Patiphan vs. yay.
Based on his Masters 3 performance, many pundits claim that yay is the top VALORANT player in the world. When comparing fragging statistics between him and his other Jett colleagues, it is clear he stands at the top; however, the others follow closely behind. With the finale of this group stage, not only will we have our top 8 teams, but we will also see which player asserts himself as the world’s best Jett.
Tune in on December 3rd to see Group A’s first matches and follow Run It Back for all the latest news and coverage of VALORANT Champions.
Lynne "drDelta" Dumeny
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