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What Did We Learn From VALORANT Champions?

What a way to end the year. Wielding substantial narratives, impressive displays of skill, and bringing the esports world to its knees, VALORANT has earned its wings after their inaugural world championships. However, what are some of the biggest takes away now that we’re left without major VALORANT competition for the next few months? 

VALORANT Champions showcased not only the power of flexibility but the upcoming demand for it. After going to game five, it’s not all that surprising that the grand final featured a myriad of agents. However, it’s both the volume of different agents picked coupled with the variety of roles that caught our eye. Take for example Gambit Esports’ Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov. Throughout the five game set, he was featured on Sova, Killjoy, and Brimstone. Igor “Redgar” Vlasov had four different agents play. And Acend’s in-game leader, Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi, had starting time on Sova, Breach, and Omen. 

Again, it’s not that a lot of agents saw playtime, it’s how impactful each of them were on the overall strategy of the map and how fluid the roles became towards the end of the series. As VALORANT matures into its second year it will become more and more common to associate flexibility, both in roles and agents, with success. And this goes far past the grand finale as well.

During their Cinderella run in the playoffs, KRÜ Esports showed a shocking amount of versatility in their agent selection. In their game against Gambit Esports, nearly every single member had a total of three agents played by the end of the three map barn-burner. 

Gone are the days of one standard composition to fall back on. Each team approaches and tackles each of VALORANT maps in their own unique way and that is only going to progress into the 2022 season. And that won’t be the only thing to continue going into their sophomore year. 

If we learned anything from VALORANT Champions, it’s that all bets are off. Every region is capable of competing and should be respected. With three major international events, what we all assumed to be minor region representatives ended up performing well above expectations. And we need not look further than the Cinderella story KRÜ Esports during VALORANT Champions. 

After fairly disappointing finishes during Masters 2 and 3, KRÜ Esports were billed as a light competitor but not someone who was going to go the distance. How wrong we were. With victories over notable names like Sentinels and Fnatic, KRÜ Esports are the banner carriers for exploration when it comes to judging some of the more underdeveloped regions with much more respect. 

Then you have cases like X10 CRIT’s upset victory over Team Envy to advance as the second seed from Group A and Brazil’s continued growth as a whole. There are some impressive teams coming to these international events and these major regions need to be put on notice because things are only going to increase in difficulty as the game evolves and the Chinese esports scene begins to spool up. 

And while that may paint things as chaotic and uncertain, there was one thing the VALORANT landscape can rest their heads on; Europe is king.

European VALORANT teams are built differently. When you have every single group headed by a European team, when nearly every single member–save for KRÜ Esports–of your top four teams are from EMEA it’s clear; Europe is the top region at the end of VALORANT’s first year. 

Even if we go to the match history and look back to the previous two Masters events, Gambit Esports and G2 Esports performed extremely well at Berlin and Fnatic showed up during Iceland earlier this year. 

As for why that is, it’s difficult to say. Is it a cultural thing? Is it their previous Counter-Strike experience that gives them an edge? Who is to say, but one thing we do know is that the imports are sure to be just around the corner. Be it Brazilian teams exporting or Europeans doing a bit of both, international moves are going to begin to take root and that comes with it the discussion of region locking. However, without going too far off-topic, Europe is the best right now and that is not up for debate. 

Images via Riot Games

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