ZETA DIVISION going up against FNATIC and DRX taking on reigning world champions LOUD mark two of the highlight matches of the opening round in LA.
UNITED STATES – Riot Games has revealed the group distribution and initial matchups for the upcoming 2023 VALORANT Champions, which is set to be played from August 6-26 in Los Angeles, California. The unveiling of the groupings was broadcast live upon the conclusion of the VCT Americas Last Chance Qualifier Grand Finals.
The third world VALORANT championship will follow the same structure as the previous event in Istanbul, with sixteen teams divided into four groups of four from August 6-13. These teams will engage in a double-elimination GSL format with the goal of advancing into the eight-team playoffs taking place from August 16-20 and 24-26.
Group A will feature Paper Rex leading the pack. The VCT Pacific champions have recently confirmed that their star player, Ilia “something” Petrov, will be joining the team in LA after missing the Masters event in Tokyo, with their first match coming against VCT Americas LCQ champions KRÜ Esports. Despite losing their first ten games of the season, Chile’s KRÜ made an impressive turnaround by winning all five LCQ games against MIBR, FURIA, Cloud9, and twice against Leviatán, thus securing the last Champions berth hours before the Champions draw.
Joining the above-mentioned teams in Group A is EDward Gaming, who just secured their spot in LA after winning the China Qualifier in Shanghai last week. The Guo “Haodong” Haodong-led side previously managed to clinch the 5-6th spot in Tokyo, with wins over Natus Vincere, T1, and LOUD, before falling to Paper Rex, a team they will encounter once more in this group stage. Rounding off the current teams in Group A are the VCT EMEA LCQ champions, Giants Gaming.
Over in Group B, Evil Geniuses are the ones to watch, coming off a second-place finish in Tokyo and a title-winning campaign at VCT Americas after getting Max “Demon1” Mazanov on board to the playing five. Their first match will be against FunPlus Phoenix, who are making their international comeback after their last appearance in São Paulo earlier this year. FPX will be eager to put up a better showing after their disastrous performance at VCT LOCK//IN, where the Chinese side bowed out in the first round to Karmine Corp. T1 and FUT Esports complete the Group B lineup and will compete against each other in their first match.
Group C houses tournament frontrunners, FNATIC, who are set to kickstart their campaign against ZETA DIVISION, a team still basking in the glory of their recent Pacific Last Chance Qualifier win. China’s Bilibili Gaming, featuring former KONE core and emerging star Wang “whzy” Haozhe, will make their international debut in a match against NRG Esports.
Dubbed the Group of Death, Group D will kick off with an EMEA showdown in the first round, pitting Team Liquid up against Natus Vincere. Rounding out the opening matches is a rematch from the VCT LOCK//IN semi-finals, where reigning world champions LOUD and DRX went head-to-head. Kim “stax” Gu-taek and his team will be keen on settling the score and securing a victory this time around, following their narrowly decided best-of-five series in São Paulo.
VALORANT Champions LA groups are as follows:
- 🇸🇬 Paper Rex
- 🇨🇱 KRÜ Esports
- 🇨🇳 EDward Gaming
- 🇪🇺 Giants Gaming
- 🇺🇸 Evil Geniuses
- 🇨🇳 FunPlus Phoenix
- 🇹🇷 FUT Esports
- 🇰🇷 T1
- 🇪🇺 FNATIC
- 🇯🇵 ZETA DIVISION
- 🇺🇸 NRG Esports
- 🇨🇳 Bilibili Gaming
- 🇪🇺 Team Liquid
- 🇪🇺 Natus Vincere
- 🇰🇷 DRX
- 🇧🇷 LOUD
Cover photo courtesy of Liu YiCun/Riot Games