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Editors note: This story has been updated to include that Bren Esports will not attend the tournament.

Following months of qualifier after qualifier (after an even bigger qualifier), we’ve reached the end of summer and its final destination: VALORANT Masters Berlin.

There will be 15 of the best teams in the world from seven regions (after Bren Esports’ visa issues) that embark to Germany to capture the trophy and automatic qualification to the upcoming world championship. As a bonus, the winning team will also secure an extra spot at Champions, for their respective region.

As we count down to curtain opening in Berlin, I will guide you through each of the 15 teams vying for Masters victory about their roster, map pool and the burning questions surrounding them.

Gambit Esports starting lineup

Gambit team photo from VALORANT Challengers
Gambit team photo from VALORANT Challengers. | Provided by Twitter @GambitEsports

Nikita “Deffo” Sudakov (Russia)

Agents played (past 60 days): Jett (29), Skye (7), Raze (3)

Signature agent: Jett

Stats on Jett (past 60 days):

  • 212.5 Average Combat Score
  • 1.19 Kill:Death ratio
  • 0.77 Kills Per Round
  • +23 First Kills-to-First Deaths (120 FK, 97 FD)

Bogdan “Sheydos” Naumov (Russia)

Agents played (past 60 days): Sage (23), Skye (12), Breach (2), Omen (1), Raze (1)

Signature agent: Sage

Stats on Sage (past 60 days):

  • 225.5 ACS
  • 1.31 K:D
  • 0.82 KPR
  • +23 First Kills-to-First Deaths (52 FK, 29 FD)
Gambits Sheydos masters berlin
Gambit’s Sheydos. | Provided by Twitter @Sheydosk1ng

Igor “Redgar” Vlasov (Russia)

Agents played (past 60 days): Sova (15), Omen (12), Astra (10), Jett (1), Reyna (1)

Signature agent: Astra

Stats on Astra (past 60 days):

  • 207.8 ACS
  • 1.16 K:D
  • 0.75 KPR

Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov (Russia)

Agents played (past 60 days): Sova (17), Viper (12), Reyna (7), Brimstone (2), Killjoy (1)

Signature agent: Sova

Stats on Sova (past 60 days):

  • 220.3 ACS
  • 1.18 K:D
  • 0.74 KPR

Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin (Russia)

Agents played (past 60 days): Cypher (20), Viper (12), KAY/O (5), Killjoy (2)

Signature agent: Cypher

Stats on Cypher (past 60 days):

  • 228.4 ACS
  • 1.31 K:D
  • 0.83 KPR
nAts of Gambit
Gambit’s nAts. | Provided by Twitter @nAts_ss

Stage 3 Map Pool 

Haven: 2-0, 100% (75% Attack Round Win, 71% Defense Round Win)

Bind: 7-1, 87% (52% ATK, 68% DEF)

Icebox: 7-2, 77% (ATK 40%, 65% DEF)

Ascent: 7-1, 87%(ATK 46%, 73% DEF)

Split: 2-1 66%, (ATK 57%, 50% DEF)

Breeze: 1-1 50% (ATK 81%, 22% DEF)

My player to watch: nAts

Jett superstars seem primed to enter the battlefield at Masters Berlin, and although Gambit have a Jett main of their own who can have big-time performances, that’s not where the power lies in the EMEA champions.

Whereas most teams lead from the front (their spear), the Russians are defined by who leads them from the back: nAts. The anchor player to end all anchor players, the Cypher and Viper main is a one-person army; an iron wall. Sentinel role players worldwide have been learning from his gameplay. On the off chance a team can break through Gambit’s already impregnable fortress, nAts is there to be the last line of defense.

I liken the way that nAts plays to a spider; his ingenious setups with traps and smokes luring the opponent into his lair before devouring them. There aren’t many world-class teams where you’ll find the sentinel player averaging more kills per round than their Jett or secondary duelist. However, Gambit aren’t your everyday team, and nAts is nowhere near your ordinary anchor player.

The big question going into Berlin: Do Gambit have the attack halves and firepower on offense to win it all?

I don’t think there would be too much argument against Gambit being the best defensive team globally, headlined by the most vital anchor. During their runs in Stage 3 in their home region of the CIS and the EMEA playoffs, that iron wall was almost impossible to get past on their three most-played maps: Icebox, Bind and Ascent. With nAts in the backline, and considering how they play through Redgar so structured, their defensive halves were a masterclass on how to properly lockdown an entire map.

Offensively on those maps, though, they were sometimes lacking. The need for an entry carry to get an early pick and open space on the map was (literally) hit-and-miss. Deffo is a player who can take over maps and be that ace attacker for Gambit, but Stage 3 wasn’t his brightest, especially in the EMEA playoffs with some poor outings made up by the team’s defense.

If Deffo can find his form and play at a level near the other top Jetts in the competition, Gambit can challenge Sentinels and other elite teams for the Masters Berlin trophy. If not, regardless of how scary their defense is, Gambit’s inability to control attack halves could see them exiting sooner than they should.

In Berlin, Gambit should be aiming for: the finals and a secured spot at Champions

When the team is comfortable, and their shots are landing, Gambit are almost impossible to beat. They have one of the best players in the entire tournament, a drilled team around him and raw firepower that can stand up to the best in Berlin. They got into a group they should escape from without too much trouble. From there, unless Sentinels are staring them down in the quarterfinals or semifinals, they should either be favored against their opponent or know they can beat them from their championship run in EMEA.

It isn’t trophy-or-bust for Gambit at Masters Berlin, as the world championship is where they’ll need to put everything together. A final (or at least semifinal finish) where EMEA’s No. 1 seed can wrap up a ticket to Champions would be enough to count their first international LAN as a success.

All stats for this article are provided by vlr.gg.