We’re just two weeks into the first EMEA VALORANT Champions Tour Challengers event of 2022, and already we’ve been treated to some surprising results. In a single day, both grand finalists from last year’s Champions lost after two marathon best-of-three series.
Getting out to a good start is pivotal given the relegation format that EMEA uses, and there’s a small handful of teams still looking to get their first win to ensure their safety. And with the upsets on Friday, the group of 2-0 teams features some surprising names.
Here are Dot Esports’ rankings for EMEA VCT 2022 Challengers One after week two.
Relegation risks: BIG, SMB, BBL
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that all three of the 0-2 teams fall into this category.
It’s possible that BBL at this point have been victims of circumstance, given they’ve had to match up against our two top-ranked teams. But no one on BBL other than their Jett main Doğukan “QutionerX” Dural has stepped up, and their player with the most VCT experience in Melih “pAura” Karaduran has had some awful performances so far. Things aren’t getting much easier for them next week, as they face G2.
BBL’s Turkish counterpart in SMB has had a rough go as well after two 0-2 losses to both Acend and G2. Defending sites on their own map picks has been their biggest weakness, with only seven total round wins on defense between the two maps they selected (Ascent vs. Acend and Split vs. G2). If you can’t stop the attacking side on your own map pick, the series becomes nearly impossible to win.
BIG ended up on the losing side of two different devastating three-map series. They squandered an early map advantage against FPX in week one, then lost decisively on Haven and Breeze (13-4 each) to LDN UTD. During both those LDN UTD losses, most players on BIG failed to even reach double-digit kills.
Plenty to prove: LDN UTD, Na’Vi, G2
Last week, we said someone on LDN UTD needed to step up other than Michał “MOLSI” Łącki, and this week someone did. Ričardas “Boo” Lukaševičius put on a scary showing in the controller role. His performance on Breeze to close out the series was outstanding, with the third-highest ACS on a single map of the week, just narrowly behind players playing duelist roles.
Na’Vi and Liquid went head-to-head this week in a three-map match that saw Liquid get into the win column after victories on both Haven and Split. Na’Vi’s Cloud played well on Sova on Bind, but Liquid eventually pulled away after another strong attacking half on Split. Na’Vi averaged fewer than five defensive round wins per map in their series against Liquid, and that lackluster defense will almost certainly be punished by Gambit next week.
G2 made it into the win column this week with a clean 2-0 against SMB. Both nukkye and hoody were on the frontlines for their team, and held their own together by winning a combined 15/19 first encounters. The team showed resilience on Split and Haven, rallying back from SMB leads at half-time on both maps. Interestingly, the team has decided to swap out keloqz for mixwell again for week three.
Contenders: FPX, Liquid, Acend
FPX moved up to 2-0 after a close win against Gambit that was fueled by two different overtime victories on Fracture and Icebox. The triumph was certainly impressive, but both wins against BIG and Gambit came a little too close for FPX to be considered a top team just yet. Still, their ability to win close rounds is to be commended and ardiis is finding his form between playing Jett and Chamber.
Liquid recovered from a decisive loss to Gambit in week one with an impressive victory against Na’Vi this week. The team broke out Neon for the time on Haven, but the man of the match was Jamppi who anchored the defense on Chamber. An overall solid team performance secured the series for Liquid on Bind, with not a single player posting a negative K/D in the 13-10 victory.
Acend are by no means in much danger of being put in relegation, but with Fnatic and Guild each 2-0 in their group and G2 steadily improving, they can’t be considered a lock for playoffs just yet. Against Guild, they escaped with their map pick of Split and held their own in a 13-9 loss on Breeze, but were blasted off the server on the deciding Fracture. Outside of cNed, no one on the team had a particularly impressive outing vs. Guild, and they’ll need to pick themselves up with Fnatic scheduled next.
Leaders of the pack: Guild, Fnatic, Gambit
Guild rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with a 2-1 victory over Acend, with stellar defensive showings in the first half of both Breeze and Fracture. Sayf commanded the defense with the Op-Jett combo delivering plenty of opening kills to propel Guild to sizable leads at halftime. Against a struggling SMB next week, Guild should comfortably secure a 3-0 record in the standings.
The online struggles Fnatic showed last year haven’t been seen since, and the team is now 2-0 after a well-rounded victory over BBL. Boaster is thriving in his new flex role with impactful performance on both Sage and KAY/O, including an 18-kill, 15-assist showing with KAY/O on Ascent.
Gambit may have taken a loss officially, but it looks like more of a stumble than a fall. Gambit actually won more rounds than FPX did across the entire series, and if a couple of overtime rounds on Fracture went differently, it would have been a win for Gambit in two maps after a decisive win on Bind. Chronicle has been spectacular the entire event, and if d3ffo and nAts can shake off their rough showing against FPX, Na’Vi are in big trouble next week.