Since it’s release a year ago VALORANT has seen success on multiple levels: as a video game, as a shooter game, and most importantly as an esport. Because of that, the first VALORANT Masters tournament will be held next month, and with it a prize pool rumored to be in the six figures.
Before the confetti falls, a myriad of tournaments must be played and won by teams looking to qualify for the grand final. However to explain a complex tournament in the least complex way possible: two regional open qualifiers are played, then one regional challenger tournament is held, and finally the winners from each geographical region advance to play in the Masters tournament.
Currently the VALORANT Champions Tour is in the first open qualifier of that first step explained prior. Therefore a lot of gaming is still to be had, yet that has not stopped major upsets from taking place in the North American region of the tournament.
Many top teams have already been eliminated from this round of the tournament. Most notably, the team ranked best in North America per Liquipedia, Sentinels. Additional examples include: the fourth ranked team Gen.G Esports, the fifth ranked team FaZe Clan, the number sixth ranked team TSM; the list goes on and on.
Thankfully for those teams and their fans, there is a second regional open qualifier. That qualifier will serve almost as a second chance for top teams looking to find a path to the Masters tournament.
On the other side of the coin, these upsets have resulted in underdog teams advancing further in the tournament. More specifically, three of the eight remaining teams do not currently rank in North America’s top ten per Liquipedia. Those teams being: the eleventh ranked team Andbox, the fifteenth ranked team Built By Gamers, and the twenty-eighth ranked team Version1.
The first open qualifier has left many fans wondering why so many top teams have fallen from grace. One of the most surprising answers is relevance. The more a team wins, the more a team plays. The more a team plays, the more other teams are able to study and learn how they play. Lower tier teams are then able to counter-play those top teams, and experience great success against them.
Obviously this is not the only answer, nor is it the majority reason for the upsets seen in the early stages of the tournament. However it does provide a fascinating look into the negative implications of winning in esports.
Regardless it will be interesting to see what happens throughout the remainder of the VALORANT Champions Tour, and whether underdogs will continue to win as the tournament progresses.