Here’s what the results of the VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 qualifier mean for the EMEA region.
G2’s rebuild is as impressive as it looks on paper
Failing to qualify for Reykjavík or secure any VCT points, G2 Esports must win to get themselves to Masters Berlin and Valorant Champions later on. This forced G2 to rethink their roster. Patryk “paTiTek” Fabrowski, Ardis “ardiis” Svarenieks and Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt were all released from the roster on June 2nd.
The very same day, G2 announced their replacements: Heretics players Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas and Auni “AvovA” Chahade alongside Jose Luis “koldamenta” Aranguren from Acend. Days before the qualifiers started, they benched Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi and called up a promising young Frenchman in Cista “keloqz” Wassim instead to complete the revamp.
G2’s “if you can’t beat them, buy them” strategy worked out in their favor as the new roster swept every opponent 2-0 in the open qualifier and shocked the world in the subsequent round against the invited teams. After winning their first-round bout against Vitality, they faced a true challenge in Europe’s Masters 2 runners-up, Fnatic.
Fnatic were heavily favored before their clash, but that all changed when the buy phase barriers dropped. G2 swept the match and even beat their opponents on one of their most impressive maps, Bind. Fnatic’s current roster had dropped Bind only once since coming together. That was at Reykjavik, and it was against Sentinels. Óscar Cañellas “Mixwel” Colochol impressed many by dropping Jett in favor of more Viper and Killjoy.
An angry Fnatic is not a team you want to mess with
Fnatic are arguably the best Valorant team in Europe. Their performance at the Reykjavik Masters secured birth to VCT Champions. Dropping to the lower bracket was not something they had counted on, but it was something they were prepared for.
Suffice to say, Fnatic sent a message to the EMEA teams after their lower bracket match against Wave Esports. Like a wild beast with its back against the wall, Fnatic embarrassed the Austria-based squad 13-1 on Icebox. Then came Breeze, which nobody was prepared for. Wave came out on top, as it was their map pick and it looked to be their hidden ace as well. Alas, map three was Bind and Fnatic was determined not to be shown up a second time.
Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev played like a madman racking up an astonishing 296 ACS and 1.14 rating for the series. Martin “Magnum” Peňkov was equally as impressive with 220 ACS and 1.19 respectively. Jake “Boaster” Howlett and Domagoj “Doma” Fancev followed closely with 195 ACS each. It was clear to all that Fnatic were pissed off and wanted to strike fear in whoever would face them next.
There’s no stopping the draw and money of bigger organizations
As much as we love to hear about the Cinderella story of an unsigned roster making it into the big leagues, Stage 3 doesn’t look like it has the room for that kind of narrative. All the teams that made it into the closed qualifier are all org-backed squads.
There were brief sparkles of hope for those who routed for underdogs like Can’t Be Touched from France or M4LIK from England. Both unsigned teams made it through to the round of 16 of the open qualifier but were taken out by more established and better-funded groups. However, the draw of bigger orgs doesn’t just apply to unsigned teams.
Team Heretics were at the top of the EMEA food chain when Valorant’s competitive scene began to take shape. They won First Strike Europe, Stage 1 Challengers 2 and placed 2nd at Europe Stage 1 Masters. After a disappointing Stage 2, the roster was raided by G2. Though former G2 stars ardiis and paTiTek filled the vacant seats, Team Heretics couldn’t even get through the Stage 3 Challengers 1 open qualifier.
The VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 main event is set to start on July 7th and end on July 11th.