With only a year under its belts, the VALORANT Champions Tour still has a bright future ahead. After a successful first yearly campaign, the VCT is returning for its second stint in 2022 with the addition of national development leagues and a change to round-robin league-style play for Challengers series.
One region to watch in particular is North America. NA events had some of the highest viewership numbers of all VCT events in 2021 and were a competitive force in the first two international VALORANT LANs at Masters Reykjavík and Masters Berlin. The wheels fell off the bus at Champions though, with two NA tournament favorites in Sentinels and Envy fizzling out in the group stage before NA’s actual last chance in Cloud9 Blue fell to Team Liquid in the quarterfinals.
While we look ahead to VCT 2022, we also want to consider some of the players who have a chance to be NA’s top competitors over the next handful of years. Here are the youngest VALORANT players who have and will be competing in NA VCT. Since VCT has open qualifiers and it would be impossible to look at the hundreds of teams who’ve competed, we’re going to stick to teams that earned VCT points during the 2021 season.
XSET Zekken: 16 years old
It makes sense that such a relatively young esports organization in XSET is fielding the youngest player. Zachary “Zekken” Patrone, who is only 16 years old, wasn’t a pro when VALORANT released and had to watch streams just to get closed beta access like the rest of us. But when he got his hands on it, he hit the ground running.
Zekken eventually found his way to XSET in the summer of 2021, joining mid-season around the same time as veteran CS:GO in-game leader Rory “dephh” Jackson. Both players made an instant impact, helping the team pull off back-to-back wins over Sentinels and 100T in the first Challengers event of Stage Three.
Zekken has shown incredible proficiency across a handful of agents like Raze, Skye, KAY/O, and Sova, and that he can already handle clutch moments at such a young age.
100T Asuna: 18 years old
At only 18 years old, 100 Thieves’ Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk seemed a bit out of place among the accomplished veterans that made up the rest of the 100T VALORANT roster. But the youngest NA player to appear on the international stage so far looked right at home in big moments, and his production on duelists like Reyna and Jett was a huge factor in the success 100T found.
Across VCT 2021, he averaged an ACS rating of 1.21 per THESPIKE, just a few spots behind some of the region’s other prolific duelists like TenZ and yay. And some of his best performances of the year came in the biggest matches; he notched at least 20 kills in all four map wins against Gambit and Acend at Masters Berlin.
While questions linger about what 100T VALORANT will fully look like in 2022, there’s no question that Asuna should be a foundational piece for years to come.
TSM Bang: 17 years old
While he’s currently listed as “inactive” on the TSM roster, it would come as huge surprise not to see Sean “bang” Bezerra playing in VCT Challengers events in 2022, whether it be with TSM or another team looking to take a chance on a 17-year-old with lots of potential. Amid TSM’s turbulent time in VCT 2021, bang joined the roster in late June and had a breakout performance at the final Challengers main event.
He finished that event with a 1.21 ACS, second highest overall just behind V1’s Oderus at 1.22 and just above teammate TSM WARDELL’s 1.19. He was a reliable site anchor while playing Astra but could also thrive as a battle Sage, with a couple standout performance against both Luminosity and FaZe.
He isn’t looking to sit back and wait for offers while on TSM’s bench, having spent the rest of 2021 playing open events alongside teams like On The Way, BBG, SoaR, and Complexity. He’s shown consistency over a large sample size too, with a top 10 ACS in the past three months among NA players with over 3,000 rounds played.
Other young names in NA VCT
- Version1 penny: 18 years old
- Rise Shanks: 19 years old
- Sentinels TenZ: 20 years old
- Gen.G Shawn: 20 years old
- FaZe ZachaREEE: 20 years old
Make sure to follow us on YouTube for more esports news and analysis.