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Valorant Masters Copenhagen Is Set to Mark a Major Milestone in Riot Games’ Esports Plans

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Valorant Masters Copenhagen Is Set to Mark a Major Milestone in Riot Games’ Esports Plans

Valorant’s next major esports LAN competition, Masters Copenhagen, marks a step-up for a few important reasons.

The next chapter in Valorant’s rapid ascension to esports notoriety is about to unfold. Starting this weekend on Sunday, the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) heads to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the second big Masters event of the year. It’s a familiar format to previous events, with 12 teams from around the globe battling it out for their share of what is expected to be around $500,000, and of course, the coveted title of a world championship series to their name. But there is one notable difference this time around.

Live Crowds

Valorant Masters Copenhagen
Image source: Riot Games

For the first time ever, Masters Copenhagen will see an international VCT LAN event attended by a live audience, which is something I’ve been vocal about it sorely needing in the past.

There’s a slight caveat in that it will only be during the competition’s latter stages, in the upper, lower, and grand finals. But still, it marks the addition of what has been a sorely missed ingredient since Valorant’s esports journey began.

Valorant was, after all, a game launched right at the height of the pandemic in mid-2020. It’s a history somewhat unique as far as video games go, with Riot Games forced to pivot its plans drastically to navigate a difficult and uncertain period. In hindsight, it was likely both a beneficiary of stay-at-home measures as much as the conditions hindered its ambitious esports plan. On the one hand, there were millions of potential players stuck at home with nothing to do but try a new multiplayer game, while on the other the inability to host esports tournaments with the same grandure as we’re used to seeing from titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, et all, simply wasn’t possible.

And it still isn’t, really, as the wake of COVID is still being felt; lingering restrictions, as well as the general expense and difficulty of travel, still make planning a trip to Copenhagen to watch esports a bit tough. Oh, and it doesn’t help that Riot announced the tickets and venue far too late, either!

Never mind, at least Valorant is finally getting a live crowd at a major event, which should do wonders to lift the atmosphere of its final matches. We’re at last going to see the sort of passion and excitement from fans that have defined esports competitions for other games in years gone by.

Franchising Looms on the Horizon

Live crowds are certainly a big milestone for the VCT, though another even bigger one looms. The VCT is set to undergo a major transformation next year as Riot Games partners with hand-picked esports organizations around the globe in a franchising program that will change the circuit forever. From 2023, the VCT will look completely different in what is presumably Riot’s ultimate vision for the future of Valorant esports.

Franchising is, of course, controversial in the sense that it rather spoils the excitement of upset storylines, which have been a big part of Valorant esports so far. If the same 15 or so teams are guaranteed a chance to fight for Championship glory every time, there just isn’t that wildcard factor there has been in the past — The Guard, for example, coming out of nowhere to upset Sentinels.

Now, we don’t know what the promotion/relegation system will look like, in all fairness to Riot Games, but it’s fair to say that the esports organizations involved in the VCT currently are desperate to secure franchising. And it’s also fair to say that dials up the intrigue of Masters Copenhagen quite a bit; surely the teams progressing deep into the tournament and creating a stir are boosting their chances of securing one of those spots? There’s even more to play for beyond just money and titles, then.

Valorant Masters Copenhagen: Teams to Watch

Valorant Masters Copenhagen
Image source: Riot Games

So, who are the teams to watch, then? In terms of the frontrunners, North America’s Optic Gaming is attempting to become the first back-to-back international champions after its performance at Masters Reykjavik, and there’s every reason to believe they can do it based on their consistent track record.

Brazil’s Loud, meanwhile, has continued to utterly dominate their region. They haven’t even dropped a map since Reykjavik. The question is whether they’re just so far ahead of regional competition that the results flatter them or whether they can step up on the international stage once again.

From Europe, Fnatic is undoubtedly the team to watch, who are not only tipped to go deeper in the tournament than any other team from the region but possibly win the whole thing. The addition of young Turkish prodigy “Alfajer” has been a major upgrade in firepower, while Finnish player “Derke” has been one of Valorant’s best-performing talents on LAN ever since Reykjavik 2021.

Standouts from other regions include APAC’s Paper Rex, a team beloved for its aggressive playstyle and unusual tactics. Korea’s DRX is still well-respected for its deeply strategic and highly disciplined style; they’re both absolutely in with a chance of making the grand finals.

But all of the above teams are more or less guaranteed a franchising spot next year, I would imagine. The teams who perhaps aren’t and might well be fighting for headlines during Masters Copenhagen have to be the likes of Guild, Northeption, Leviatan, and XERXIA. All of these teams are worth keeping an eye on, and each actually has their own interesting backstory to qualification for Copenhagen:

  • Guild is about to make its debut at a Valorant LAN event, having been the nearly team of Europe for so long.
  • Northeption beat out Zeta Division, Japan’s most decorated team, and at a regional LAN event with huge attendance, no less.
  • Leviatan finally beat KRU Esports to secure a spot at Copenhagen, the LATAM region’s most dominant team. Can they take a step further and push deep into the tournament?
  • XERXIA has twice beaten Optic Gaming on LAN, the defending Masters champions, but has yet to turn those impressive performances into tournament wins.

There’s all sorts of intrigue heading into Copenhagen, then, which dials the excitement up a notch from Reykjavik earlier this year; even more so when you consider that the next event is Champions, qualification to which for many teams depends on a strong showing at Copenhagen. With so much at stake, make sure you’re not missing the action: Twinfinite has a viewer’s guide running through everything you need to know about the tournament structure and how to watch here.

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