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We’re edging closer and closer to VALORANT’s biggest International LAN to date — Masters Berlin — and teams in Europe, Middle East and Africa that didn’t manage to make the playoffs at Challengers 1, have been trying to qualify through Challengers 2. From upsets to rising stars and massive surprises, the VCT Stage 3 Challengers did anything but disappoint. After eight teams have already locked themselves in at the EMEA Playoffs, four more are joining them from Challengers 2. Here are our VALORANT power rankings for the best-performing EMEA teams at the regional qualifiers.
10. Team Vitality
Team Vitality started off strong at the Closed Qualifiers of Challengers 2, beating Wave, NiP and Heretics as they entered the Main Event as one of the hot favorites. Many were impressed with their new signing and stand in, Mohamed “shalaby” Shalaby, who had less than a week of practice with his new team.
All of the role changes, and other new things they were trying, were paying off until they ran into Team Liquid. Despite taking a convincing lead against TL on map one, Vitality fell apart on Split and Breeze, meaning they were relegated to the lower bracket on day one of the Main Event. They faced even more difficulties from there, bowing out of the tournament and Stage 3 with a 13-9 and 13-6 loss against Team BDS.
– Yinsu Collins
Alliance were one of the teams that had huge upset potential heading into Challengers 2 after they beat NiP and 19esports during Challengers 1. They had a smooth run throughout the Closed Qualifiers stage (only dropping two maps against Giants Gaming) but things quickly turned sour when the main event started.
They had a commendable start against Masters Reykjavik finalists Fnatic, pushing them all the way to overtime on Haven, but their lackluster attacking on Icebox let the whole team down. Alliance had a chance to redeem themselves in the lower bracket, but they couldn’t quite overcome Rix.GG on Haven and suffered a similar fate on Breeze. Unfortunately, their Stage 3 dreams ended right after, and the 10 points they picked up previously will not be enough to boost them into the Last Chance Qualifiers for Champions. Despite their losses, Elric “juseu” Belland, their Irish trialist and stand in, impressed many, and it’ll be a big surprise if he doesn’t end up on a team permanently in the near future.
8. Rix.GG Thunder
After their impressive run all the way through the Open Qualifiers in Challengers 1, Rix.GG Thunder earned a direct invite to Challengers 2, meaning they could bypass both of the Open and Closed qualifier stages. Having always been on the fringe of Europe’s top-ten, they were somewhat of a wildcard out of all of the invited main event teams.
However, despite losing to an incredibly strong Giants side in their opening best of three, Rix made it past the first round of the lower bracket after beating Alliance for the second time at Stage 3 Challengers. They had to take on a fellow British team, Tenstar in the next round, two teams that have become very familiar with each other after the time they both spent in the VALORANT UK & Irish Skirmish. Sadly for Rix, Tenstar were too strong for them, but nevertheless, they showed massive improvements in Stage 3 compared to their previous performances at VCT.
7. Team BDS
Team BDS have one of the longest-standing rosters in EMEA VALORANT, so it was a big surprise when they decided to expand their team to a six-man roster, bringing in Guillaume “GatsH” Kalka from Edelweiss Esports. They decided to implement a system where GatsH would be swapped in for Dylan “hoppY” Aube and Jonathan “TakaS” Paupard on specific maps. The newcomer showed a lot of competency with his fragging abilities, but many weren’t sure how the switch up would affect one of the already well-established European teams.
They suffered a surprising defeat to Tenstar in the opening round of Challengers 2 main event, but after redeeming themselves against Team Vitality, their chances of progressing looked a lot better, especially since their next opponent was going to be a very tired Fnatic who had already lost to Giants on the same day. BDS’ victory was all but secured after a 13-7 dominant win on Icebox, but Fnatic got themselves back in the game on Bind and eventually knocked out BDS in overtime on Haven. Much like some of the other teams on this list, BDS have not accumulated enough VCT Circuit Points, which means they will not get a chance to attend Champions at the end of the year, and it remains to be seen if they will decide to stick with their six-man roster.
Tenstar are one of the most pleasant surprises we’ve had in Europe for a while. The newly-formed organization only entered VALORANT in May, picking up British roster Tarren Mill in the process. Nobody expected this team to have made it as far as they did in Stage 3 and they did it in style.
Tenstar beat 19esports, Team Queso, Team Heretics, BDS and Rix.GG as they fought through the closed qualifiers of Challengers 2. In fact, the only two teams they lost to were Fnatic and Team Liquid, arguably the two strongest going into this tournament. They couldn’t quite complete their fairytale run in the lower bracket after falling to Fnatic, but Tenstar made a massive impression on the EMEA VALORANT community through their unorthodox compositions and aggressive playstyle. It’s no secret that they’re a smaller organization in comparison to most of the teams they faced, but it’s encouraging to see the amount of progress they’ve managed to make in a short amount of time.
5. Fire Flux Esports
Turkish team Fire Flux Esports managed to surprise everybody when they took down some of the best in the region. While the team lost to SuperMassive Blaze during Challengers 1, they managed to defeat BBL Esports, who were the winners of First Strike in Turkey and the runners-up for Masters 1, which ensured the formidable roster would not earn a spot at Stage 3 Masters in Berlin, Germany later next month.
This significant victory during Challengers 2 was enough to put the wind in their sails. Fire Flux managed to defeat Besiktas Esports, Thunderbolts Gaming and secured revenge against Digitas Athletics.
During Challengers 2, Duelist flex player Toprak “lauress” Kaynak was imperative to the success of the team during the tournament, with an impressive 1.33 Kill/Death ratio, while duelist Volkan “sociablEE” Yonal secured a 275 average combat score, according to VLR.gg.
– George Geddes
Another team that was once the best in the region, ForZe, has looked impressive during their recent matches.
The CIS side, which participated in the region’s most recent VCT Stage 3 Challengers 2 tournament, managed to take down One Breath Gaming in the grand final to secure qualification for EMEA Challengers Playoffs.
In terms of competition during the event, however, there was much to be desired. Gambit and Natus Vincere, formerly of ‘No Pressure,’ were absent during the tournament since they both qualified for Playoffs during Stage 3 Challengers 1, which concluded July 10.
There’s no question that ForZe are the third-best team in the region, but they are fighting in the shadows of Gambit and Na’Vi.
The European side has had some inconsistent results, but they can bounce back.
Fnatic, previously considered to be the best European team, has suffered several defeats over the past few tournaments. Most notably, Giants and Team Liquid handed Fnatic two losses during the Stage 3 Challengers 2 event, while G2 and Guild both took Fnatic down during Challengers 1.
The Fnatic of new doesn’t look similar to the Fnatic of old. On a positive note however, Fnatic’s star player, Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev, looks as hot as ever. He put up almost 100 kills against Team Liquid across five maps while using four different Agents.
The versatility and sheer skill of Fnatic’s main fragger has proven to be one of the most consistent and prominent features of the side.
2. Giants Gaming
The most surprising victors were European mix Giants Gaming.
The Spanish organization recently brought in David “Davidp” Prins, formerly of G2 Esports, to lead the new side as a stand-in alongside Štěpán “AMBI” Beránek.
Giants qualified for VCT Stage 3 Challengers 2 through the Open Qualifier, which concluded July 22. The European side continued their winning ways with several victories during the Closed Qualifier to eventually secure a place at the main event. Two of the best in Europe, Fnatic and Team Liquid, awaited their arrival.
Giants began their impressive run with a clean 2-0 victory over Rix.GG Thunder in the opening round. This win would be capitalized on with another significant victory over Fnatic, which led to the most impressive victory of them all, a quick 2-0 over Team Liquid.
During the Upper Final, Team Liquid only managed to secure nine rounds against Giants, compared to their 26. But Team Liquid didn’t let Giants continue their miracle run, as they swept them 3-1 in the Grand Final.
1. Team Liquid
The kings of Europe are back in business.
Although Team Liquid were recently knocked down a peg by FunPlus Phoenix and Fnatic during VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1, the predominant British mix has rejuvenated their killer instinct.
Team Liquid, led by former decorated CS:GO players Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen, crushed the opposition during Stage 3 Challengers 2. Team Liquid got their revenge on Fnatic during a five-match thriller, which led to Fnatic missing out on a spot at EMEA Challengers Playoffs later this month.
Arguably one of the most impressive performances was from Dom “soulcas” Sulcas, who continued to play during the event even through an injury to his wrist, which he is still slowly recovering from.
Whether Team Liquid can continue their good form against some of the best in Europe such as Acend or Guild is yet to be seen, but they have the talent and strategies to take it all the way.