It all comes down to this. Hundreds of teams competed in the first inaugural year of the VALORANT Champions Tour, effectively starting out with nothing and having to carve out their place through open qualifiers. It’s led to this event of the year: Champions 2021 in Berlin.
The first official VALORANT world champion will be crowned next month, and for these teams to get here, they’ve relied on the playmaking abilities of some of the game’s brightest stars. These players have created iconic moments, set unreal records, and have driven their respective teams to the grandest stage of VALORANT esports to date.
Here is our list of the top 10 VALORANT players to watch at VCT Champions 2021.
He may not have the flashiest plays or the crispiest aim, but Cloud9’s vanity brings a presence to the team that makes the atmosphere fun but their in-game prowess formidable. His track record over the past two years speaks for itself; he’s had success leading Chaos’s CS:GO roster, V1 VALORANT, and now Cloud9 Blue. Individually he can also be relied upon to deliver a clutch in-game as a bonus aspect on top of his excellent leadership, while also slowing the other team’s momentum with a debilitating Judge play.
You may be surprised not to see either of Liquid’s two EU stars in ScreaM and Jamppi in this spot, but the most interesting aspect of this roster is definitely their new addition in Nivera. Fresh off a stint as Team Vitality’s sixth man on its CS:GO roster, Nivera got off to as hot a start in VALORANT as someone can; picking up an ace in his first official round and playing a vital role in Liquid’s EMEA LCQ and Red Bull Home Ground victories. He’s got his brother’s aim and can play some of the key agents like Viper, Killjoy, and Cypher, and could be the key to Liquid unlocking another level.
The definitive Jett main on perhaps the most dangerous team outside of NA or Europe, BuZz has been the catalyst for the second stage of Vision Strikers’ dominance since he joined the roster in May. Like other names on this list, Jett is his primary go-to agent, but he displays a proficiency with her ultimate’s set of knives that is unmatched. Where he goes, the rest of Vision Strikers follows, and it’s hard to slow them down.
Unlike some of the other Jett mains on this list, C9 Blue’s leaf has not always been considered one of the top Jett players in the field. In fact, he didn’t use her in most of his maps until he and vanity reunited on C9. Since then, he’s taken a huge step forward, with his biggest impact coming during the NA LCQ, where he finished at the top three in ACS, ADR, and first kills per round. Additionally, he can also provide extra utility by playing Skye and Raze, further strengthening the C9 map pool. He also just turned 18.
Chronicle is just clutch. There’s not much else that can be said about him, but a 19-year-old who can split duties between Sova and controller with so much poise really has a chance to be something special, and not just at this year’s Champions. During Gambit’s near-immaculate run at VCT, Chronicle delivered big plays again and again, especially during their 3-0 grand finals victory over Team Envy. Look out for him to deliver even more at Champions.
Unflinching and stoic, nAts is Gambit’s version of the Punisher, able to exploit the smallest opening and take advantage of any situation. He’s arguably the best lurker in the game right now, constantly catching his opponents off guard across the entire map. Not only can he deliver on big plays, but he does so in such a stone cold manner, casually dapping up his teammates after a play that would send most NA players flying up out of their chairs.
No one quite captures the audience’s attention on stage quite like Boaster did at VCT Masters Reykjavík. The British IGL for Fnatic delighted and captivated fans with his big smile and bigger personality. But he’s more than just a source of entertainment; he’s a passionate and intelligent leader serving as the heart, soul, and mind of the Fnatic roster that really gave Sentinels a run for their money at Reykjavík.
The driving force for Acend and perhaps the best Jett main in all of Europe, cNed is seeking to put on another show after falling short of expectations at Masters Berlin. The potential for Acend to be great is certainly there; Gambit has only lost three best-of-three series since August and two of those were to Acend. In both those series, cNed was the one setting the tone with early aggression and clutch playmaking on Jett. Expect much more of that from him when he returns to Berlin.
Envy’s yay is a testament to what a simple change of scenery can do to a player, evolving from a competent duelist into one of the game’s most dangerous with the title of “El Diablo” to boot. Yay has absolutely flourished under the leadership of FNS and is looking like the best player in all of NA during Envy’s run at Masters Berlin. He averaged over 24 kills a map against both Sentinels and 100 Thieves during the playoffs, and while Envy lost the grand finals 3-0 to Gambit, yay was the one making sure each map was relatively close.
But there’s only one name that can stand above all the rest, and that’s the soft-spoken Sentinel that’s just built different: TenZ. No player has the mixture of aim, awareness, and clutch factor that he does. On top of that, he has his choice of duelist to use to demolish you in either Reyna or Jett. His numbers at Masters Three were a step down from his numbers at Masters Two, but he still finished top five in virtually every major statistical category in Berlin. Peak TenZ reappearing could be what pushes Sentinels to a world championship win.
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