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Fans from around the world were there to become parts of history as VALORANT’s second international in-person event, VALORANT Championship Tour: Champions in Istanbul began its playoffs stage with two 2-0 matches that raised the hype sky high, both in the venue and at homes of fans. The aspect of this day that made it special was not the games, but the fans who were allowed in the studio for the first time in this event.
The venue was filled with passionate and excited esports fans, rooting for different teams or regions, connected by their love for the game. We spoke with some of them, local and international, about their experience in Volkswagen Arena, their predictions for today’s matches as well as the ultimate winner of the event.
“An international event happening in Istanbul makes me really glad. We haven’t had an event like this ever since I started playing games. It’s exciting.”
Excitement through the roof of the venue
“The atmosphere is really exciting; the games are more exciting than I thought they would be, it’s really enjoyable here. I’ve never been to an esports event before, [and] the experience has exceeded my expectations, that I can say for sure.”
This was the first esports event that many people in Volkswagen Arena today attended in person; a significant amount of fans started watching esports during the pandemic. The hype, the excitement and the shock was unexpected for some newer fans, but many people remarked that they were amazed by the atmosphere of the arena.
“It’s very insane, you can hear everyone so loud and I never was at such an event before, you can really feel the energy.”
The lights and the sounds and the screens, not to mention the fans cheering and screaming, Champions provides an experience many fans want more of from events like this. During moments of excitement, drama and even comedy, the audience reacts as one with amplified feelings and enjoyment — that’s the beauty of esports.
The one main problem fans mentioned was the unavailability of tickets — some of them weren’t fortunate enough to secure more tickets to attend other days of the 8-day event. The tickets sold out quickly; especially the ones for the final days, September 17 and 18.
“It’s really exciting, the excitement of the games is really nice, everyone is here to watch some games, the passion for esports is exhilarating. Sadly I’m only here for today because I couldn’t get more tickets.”
Champions Predictions, doubts and dreams
“I think LOUD will take it, 2-0.”
After LOUD’s incredible comeback on the first map of their series against Leviatán, most fans lost hope in the Chilean team, citing their thoughts on the mental duress they must be under after such a hard loss.
“I think Leviatan took mental damage [from the comeback], so I vote LOUD.”
The second series of the day had the fans with unanimous opinions on who would win. Who can blame them? The 36-round game on Ascent may have ended with a point for DRX but it was one of the closest maps of this tournament, maybe even of 2022.
“I would want DRX to win, but FPX can make a comeback from this point.”
With a clutch victory or a surprise twist on every other round, this game deserves its place in the history of VALORANT esports. Fans who were there to watch the game on stage were fortunate enough to witness greatness happen firsthand.
“Hopefully FPX [will win], I think they have the strength to make the comeback.”
Calling the winners from Day 1
We also asked fans about who they think will win the VCT Champions at the end of all of this, which led to surprising and varied answers. The most common response was not specifically a team, but a region — many fans thought that an EMEA (Europe, Middle East or Africa) team would lift the biggest VALORANT trophy of 2022, not to mention the back-to-back victory for the region after FunPlus Phoenix’s stellar performance in VCT Masters Copenhagen.
“My heart wants Fnatic to win, but I think an EMEA team will win it for sure. I think Europe is superior to other regions. I follow a lot of the leagues, I’m a fan — I think EMEA will take it.”
When asking fans about a specific team they think will win, one team almost always emerges as the fan favorite for the crown: Fnatic. One of the best teams of EMEA, of VALORANT even, Fnatic have not had the chance to lift an international trophy, though they came close at Copenhagen with their 4th place finish. This event is their chance to end the year by taking home the most important trophy of them all.
“Maybe Fnatic? I mean Fnatic faced 100 Thieves and made a comeback so I believe they can adjust to everything.”
Some fans were more unsure of who would win Champions as the playoff stage is still in its earlier stages. With the series being as close as they are, it’s hard to gauge who will be the one left standing after the dust settles.
“We’re seeing a lot of unexpected results in these games, I have no idea, everyone has about the same chances.”
On Day 2 of VCT Champions playoffs, with OpTic facing Team Liquid and XSET taking on Fnatic, the audience will witness a clash of North America and EMEA like nothing they saw before.
The hype of today will be nothing compared to the hype of tomorrow, as Fnatic, especially their Turkish superstar Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder make their debut in front of the fans on the stage at Istanbul. Imagination might not be enough to foresee the amount of cheers and excitement his presence will generate from the crowd, so we will have to wait and see.
We will talk with more fans about their impressions of him and the rest of Fnatic, their allegiance on the rivalry of NA versus EU as well as other topics of interest regarding the last and biggest VCT tournament of 2022 as the tournament continues, so stay tuned.
The beauty of esports lies in its power to replace your world and its worries, anger or fears, even for the shortest of moments. I want to make this power available to all who reach for it.