The VALORANT Champions 2022 tournament is about to kick off — here are some of the top storylines heading into the final tournament of the 2022 season. These stories revolve around teams returning to form, aiming to break narratives and even a player playing live VALORANT in his home country.
The first matches for #VALORANTChampions İstanbul have been set!
Find out who will be facing who in the third international competition of 2022!
— VALORANT Champions Tour (@ValorantEsports) August 17, 2022
DRX look to break their 5th-6th curse
After yet again leading their region to secure their spot at Champions, DRX have yet to stand out internationally. Since their original Vision Strikers days, the team has been the best Korean VALORANT team. Their first international run was at Stage 3 Masters in Berlin, where they lost in the quarterfinals to Gambit Esports. Then, they weren’t able to make it out of the group stage at VCT Champions 2021, ending that season off on a sour note.
For the 2022 season, the same promise was there despite a rebrand from Vision Strikers to DRX. In both Stage 1 and 2, they won their region, went to an international tournament, fought through groups and lost in three matches. It was eerie how similar Reykjavík and Copenhagen’s playoff stages were for DRX. The team won their first match, lost to OpTic Gaming and got eliminated by their first lower bracket opponent in both tournaments.
Thanks to their regional performances, the team is at Champions, but this is the time to break their narrative. It seems every tournament, fans from Korea hype DRX up only to see them lose in the same spot. The roster hasn’t changed since Copenhagen, so we’ll see if they can improve at Champions in 2022.
ZETA DIVISION is back, but can they return to form?
Out of all the teams in the two international VCT 2022 LANs, one of the best stories revolved around the Japanese team ZETA DIVISION. Their lower bracket run at Stage 1 Masters in Reykjavík got them a third-place finish. It wasn’t an easy run, defeating teams like Paper Rex and DRX on the way. A loss to OpTic Gaming prevented a finals appearance, but that finish was (at that time) the best LAN for an Asian VALORANT team. It wasn’t until Paper Rex got second place at Stage 2 Masters that an Asian VALORANT team got a better finish.
One of the benefits at the time with ZETA DIVISION was the expectations, more so the lack of them. Japanese VALORANT teams never made any significant international runs, and since that run ZETA had, haven’t since. After finishing third internationally, ZETA DIVISION were defeated regionally by Northeption and didn’t make it to Copenhagen. Luckily enough, Northeption’s early departure meant that ZETA qualified for Champions.
Now that they’re back internationally, fans from around the world will see if ZETA DIVISION can make another run.
Fnatic’s Alfajer is heading to a home crowd in Istanbul
The first Champions tournament with a live crowd is in Istanbul, and there is one Turkish VCT player going there. Fnatic’s Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder got a taste of the international LAN experience in Copenhagen, as Fnatic finished fourth.
This time around, he will get home crowd support when he gets in front of that Turkish crowd. This is unique in the VCT scene. Technically, FunPlus Phoenix’s Mathias “SEIDER” Seider was a Danish player in Copenhagen but only played with the team in the group stages, before fans were live in the venue. For this event, Alfajer and Fnatic are going to get the crowd on their side as soon as they step on stage in front of fans. Only time will tell if he can keep the storylines alive at Champions in 2022.
About the Author
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.