VALORANT teams from every corner of the globe will be looking to make their name at Champions Istanbul from Aug. 31 to Sept. 18.
This series will introduce fans to all the teams competing at Champions. South America — and Brazil in particular — has a long history in the first-person shooter genre. So far, no team from South America has been able to net themselves a Masters or Champions win in the VALORANT Champions Tour. Could that all change at Champions Istanbul?
VALORANT in South America has typically been divided into two sub-regions: Brazil and Latin America. Right now, the top dogs in Brazil — and perhaps all of South America — are LOUD. The team put together South America’s best ever VALORANT performance when they notched a second at Masters Reykjavík 2022.
“LOUD is Brazil’s dream team, not only inside the game, but outside the game, they are very hardworking people who fight for their dreams,” Letícia Motta, a Brazilian analyst and commentator for the VCT, said in an interview.
LOUD was formed in early 2022, picking up some of the top prospects and established names from the first year of the VCT. The project was built up around two players in particular: Matias “Saadhak” Delipetro and Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi.
“As thinking minds, as communicators within the game, and even in the most individual aspect, I believe that they are two strong names that pull the team up,” Motta said.
At the recent Masters Copenhagen, many expected LOUD to again barrel their way into a top four finish. Ultimately, that wasn’t the case. The team underperformed and were eliminated early. According to Motta, the lack of practice time was the chief culprit.
Ahead of Champions, practice for LOUD won’t be an issue. Recently, the team concluded a bootcamp in Madrid, Spain. They’ve had plenty of time between the end of Copenhagen and Champions to figure out what went wrong.
LOUD will need to be in fighting form early at Champions because the Brazilians are in the same group as OpTic Gaming, their North American rivals who eliminated them in both Reykjavík and Copenhagen.
“Undoubtedly LOUD and OpTic has become a classic,” Motta said. “Last time, I believe LOUD made a lot of mistakes in individual plays, they didn’t play as a team the way I and many expected. OpTic is a smart and experienced team, they know how to push where we made the most mistakes, and I think that will be the determining factor again.”
Leviatán are the Latin American first seed at Champions Istanbul. It’s a position that the team has been working towards since the roster formed at the end of 2021. Promoting Fabian “Shyy” Usnayo from their academy team proved to be the last piece of the puzzle. Or at least, one of the last pieces. The other was bringing on the controversial former coach of KRÜ, Rodrigo “Onur” Dalmagro.
Leviatán played second fiddle to KRÜ Esports for a long time before they finally escaped their shadow and qualified to Masters Copenhagen. Their first international showing did not go the way the team planned, but it was still a solid performance for their first foray onto the world stage.
Now, with sufficient practice and a bit of experience under their belts, Leviatán are a team to watch coming into Champions.
“I really believe that teams like LOUD and Leviatán can reach the playoffs, especially if they had the necessary time to adapt,” Motta said.
Leviatán are in Group A at Champions with Paper Rex, EDward Gaming and Team Liquid. Depending on how EDG perform under the pressure of an international tournament, it may just be the most competitive group of Champions. Qualifying for playoffs will be no easy feat.
“I would say that one of the spots is Paper Rex and Leviatán will need to play their best against Liquid, but yes, the chance exists,” Motta said.
Any fan watching Leviatán for the first time should pay special attention to Vicente “Tacolilla” Compagnon. The 21-year-old Chilean came to epitomize Chamber in the lead up to, and during, Masters Copenhagen. His sniping prowess will likely be on fully display at Champions.
“Tacolilla is an excellent Operator player and he has matured a lot during this time,” Motta said.
Death, taxes, and KRÜ Esports.
KRÜ have attended every single international VCT event. More, the core of the roster has remained almost totally unchanged since the start of 2021. What results is a team of five players with more major VALORANT event experience than any other team.
Unfortunately for KRÜ, their performance in 2022 has looked more like regression than progress. Their biggest achievement was a third/fourth place finish at Champions in 2021. At that event, the team looked borderline unstoppable. But that is not the version of KRÜ we got at Reykjavík and Copenhagen in 2022.
While it’s easy to argue bad luck — KRÜ were eliminated by OpTic at both Masters events — the fact is that teams at the highest level of VALORANT have only gotten better, and KRÜ are struggling to keep up.
To be clear, KRÜ are by no means a bad team, and are certainly capable of putting together a run. The Chilean/Argentinian team absolutely obliterated their competition in the South America Last Chance Qualifier when their spot at Champions was on the line.
KRÜ also has incredibly talented players like Angelo “keznit” Mori and an intelligent, experienced in-game leader in Nicolas “Klaus” Ferrari. The supporting cast isn’t lacking in firepower either. The team has shown complete willingness to adapt to the meta, while also maintaining their own style of VALORANT. Like LOUD, KRÜ also has an incredibly passionate fanbase behind them.
And, best of all, KRÜ has a clear path forward at Champions. They are in a group with FunPlus Phoenix, XSET and XERXIA. And while FPX are as close to a lock for playoffs as you can get, XSET and XERXIA are both teams that have shown signs of weakness in the past few months.
If KRÜ maintain their momentum from LCQ, anything is possible.
Contrasted against the other three South America teams at Champions Istanbul, FURIA Esports are playing with house money. The possibility of upsetting “better” teams is high for the Brazilians.
FURIA were the second best team at the South America LCQ after KRÜ. They did enough to qualify, but, realistically, expectations are low for this Brazilian team in Istanbul. That’s true for a couple of reason. For starters, outside of a brief stint at Champions 2021, FURIA haven’t spent much time performing on the world stage.
“Since then the meta has changed a lot and I think that several Brazilian teams still make mistakes in more basic concepts within the games,” Motta said.
FURIA also recently added Douglas “dgzin” Silva to their roster in July 2022.
“I believe that adding a player in such a short time is something that requires time and experience for the team to find its way of playing, even if that player is exceptional,” Motta said. “Dgzin has had some ups and downs in his stints at VCT BR. He is a talented player individually, but he still needs to go through bigger trials.”
According to Motta, FURIA has a strong foundation to build on.
“It’s a team with a very good base, which really studies and plays anti-tacticians, always respecting the opponent’s style of play,” she said.
What the team doesn’t have is time. FURIA is a massive organization with lots of support in Brazil. There’s no doubt that the team will continue to improve and iterate whenever they reach a roadblock. But with Champions right around the corner, many are already counting the team out.
“If [other teams] disrespect FURIA, maybe they’ll get some kind of surprise, but honestly I think this has already happened to LOUD and it’s already got the world on their toes,” Motta said.
All in all, Champions will be important for South America. As a whole, the region hasn’t been able to keep up with Europe and North America. This could be the chance to rewrite that narrative.
“Honestly, I think this is the best Champions for [South America] in terms of performance,” Motta said. “We have players now with a lot of experience and bootcamps, so teams will have a greater opportunity to show their play style.”