Nerd Street Gamers have announced their partnership with Riot Games for the first stage of the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour, which will be hosted in North America.
There will be 2 Challenger Open Qualifiers to qualify for the 12-team Challengers main event. Stage 1 of the VALORANT Champions Tour will begin on January 27th with Open Qualifier #1, a 128-team tournament.
We couldn’t be more excited to work with Nerd Street Gamers again to bring a new season of VCT play to North America.Bear Jemison, Head of NA/OCE VALORANT Esports
The top 4 teams from Open Qualifier #1 and the top 4 teams from Open Qualifier #2 will advance to Stage 1: Challengers main event alongside Sentinels, Envy, 100 Thieves, and Cloud9 Blue. This stage will take place over the course of 5 weeks. The top teams from the main event will then advance to a Two-week playoff stage.
In 2021, VALORANT Champions Tour and VCT Game Changers saw over 320 million minutes watched across Nerd Street’s Twitch channel. The company saw approximately 6,000 players compete in VALORANT in 2021 and has helped facilitate over 75 players’ journey from amateur to getting signed by professional organizations.
“Riot Games is an extraordinary partner, and Nerd Street is excited to continue working with a publisher that supports its games’ communities, from first-time players, to fans, talent, and professional teams,” said John Fazio, CEO and Founder of Nerd Street. “As an organization, we take pride in delivering top-tier services to every organization we work with. Being selected to operate VCT in its second year demonstrates the success we were able to achieve together last year.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with Nerd Street Gamers again to bring a new season of VCT play to North America,” said Bear Jemison, Head of NA/OCE VALORANT Esports. “Nerd Street has been an incredible partner and they bring a wealth of expertise, experience, and passion to their esports operations. We’re confident that together, we’ll build something that fans will love.”
To set the stage, Nerd Street Gamers’ Brian Bencomo has provided “Team Primers” on each of the teams that will be competing in the EMEA Stage 1 Challengers main event.
The defending VALORANT world champions are, of course, one of the four invitees to the EMEA Challengers 1 main event. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t make any roster changes since winning Champions just over a month ago. Four of the five members of the team have been with the organization since March 2021, and Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt joined in June last year. The only offseason drama was when their star duelist Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek did not immediately re-sign with the team like his four teammates, Subsequently in December, it was verified that cNed would be staying with the team.
It also has been a very quiet offseason for the Champions runners-up. Gambit Esports will maintain their same five-man roster heading into the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour season. Four of the five members of the team have been together since September 2020, with IGL Igor “Redgar” Vlasov joining just a few months afterward in January 2021.
Team Liquid also have not made any offseason moves. And why would they? They were on a 13-match winning streak and looked absolutely unbeatable before losing to Acend in the Champions semifinals. With star duelist Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and his brother Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom carrying this team throughout the winning streak, this is a formidable team.
Fnatic are the only one of the four invited teams to have made a roster move. Domagoj “Doma” Fancev was moved to inactive last month and is now with TENSTAR. According to a statement posted to Fnatic’s website, “This is the first of a variety of changes we will take in order to create a lineup that will see as much success as possible come next season.” No other changes have been made so far, and the team has not announced a new member of the roster yet.
qualified through Europe’s first closed qualifier
Guild Esports had a nearly flawless run through the EMEA open and closed qualifiers. They won nine matches in a row and only dropped one map en route to qualifying for the EMEA Stage 1 Challengers main event. Their last loss was to Team Liquid in the grand final of the Champions Last Chance Qualifier last October. Not only did they finish ninth in the VCT EMEA circuit points standings last year, but they were a win away from qualifying for Champions. They have moved away from their all-Swedish lineup since then, adding three new players: Jose Luis “koldamenta” Aranguren Herrero, Russel “Russ” Mendes, and Nikita “trexx” Cherednichenko. Koldamenta is their most significant offseason addition. He won Europe’s Stage 1 Masters with Acend and was part of the G2 Esports team that made a deep run at Masters: Berlin.
qualified through Europe’s first closed qualifier
German team BIG only lost one match on their way to being the second team to make it out of the closed qualifier. Team Vitality knocked them into the lower bracket, but in a rematch, BIG beat Vitality to qualify. They have not made any roster moves this offseason. BIG’s last appearance in a high-level VCT competition was taking part in Stage 3, Challengers 2 closed qualifier. They did not get any circuit points last year toward qualifying for any of the Master’s tournaments or Champions, so for them to now be among the top 12 teams in EMEA for Challengers 1 is the org’s biggest accomplishment by far.
qualified through Turkey’s first closed qualifier
SuperMassive Blaze didn’t have much trouble being the first closed qualifier team from Turkey. They didn’t drop any matches throughout the open and closed qualifier stages and only dropped two maps. They were Turkey’s best team last year and competed at Masters: Berlin. Although they seem to have picked up right where they left off last year, they did overhaul their roster since getting knocked out of the EMEA Last Chance Qualifier in October. Since then they have added Caner “CyderX” Demir, Göktuğ “XiSTOU” Canciğer and Burak “glovee” Yıldırım. The most significant move was replacing IGL Melih “pAura” Karaduran with the new IGL CyderX.
qualified through CIS’s first closed qualifier
FunPlus were one of the most disappointing European teams last year. Despite high expectations and good results early in the year, the team seemed to do worse as the year went on and ultimately finished just outside the cutoff line for competing in the EMEA Last Chance Qualifier. The team made two moves in the offseason, adding Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin and Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks. More importantly perhaps, the team switched regions, moving from Europe to Russia’s Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Although the team is still part of the EMEA region, being in the CIS region will likely give them a better chance to reach the higher levels of competition in the region and qualify for Masters and Champions. Outside of Gambit Esports and forZe, CIS is not known to have as many top-tier teams as Europe does.
Four more teams will round out the field of 12 through these qualifiers:
- Two from Europe’s second closed qualifier (Jan. 20-23)
- One from Turkey’s second closed qualifier (Jan. 20-22)
- One from CIS’s second closed qualifier (Jan. 20-22)