In a tournament that flipped everything we thought we knew about Asian VALORANT upside-down, Thai side FULL SENSE won their spot at Champions.

Going into the Asia-Pacific Last Chance Qualifier, we thought we knew a few things. Korean teams would be the best - they'd been the best at international events, and rumours said they'd dominated Asia in scrims ever since the game came out. Top Southeast Asian teams could put up a fight, but likely were a small tier below. Lastly, Japanese and South Asian teams would lag quite a ways behind.

But over the course of an action-packed week, all this was turned upside-down. Thai squad FULL SENSE are heading to Champions, after an action-packed final against Japan's NORTHEPTION. What exactly happened?

Korean teams falter

Korea sent three squads to the tournament - NUTURN, F4Q, and DWG KIA. All were considered favourites to win the event. NUTURN had added young star Yoon "hyeoni" Hyun-seok to a team that already came third at Masters Reykjavik. F4Q had been at Masters Berlin, while DK had a stacked lineup that could finally live up to their potential.

Immediately, though, things began to go south. DK were unceremoniously bounced from the upper bracket by Indian roster Global Esports.

It was a relatively close game, but one DK should have won. And that trend would continue. NUTURN and F4Q were eliminated from the upper bracket by FULL SENSE and NORTHEPTION respectively, and wouldn't be able to make it through lowers. DWG KIA ended up placing 3rd, NUTURN 4th, and F4Q 5th-6th.

FULL SENSE impress on their way to Champions

While Korean teams struggled, Southeast Asia's second seed thrived. FULL SENSE took several months off playing events to prepare for the LCQ, and it showed. Chanawin "JohnOlsen" Nakchain was an absolute star on Jett, and formed a great duelist partnership with Kititkawin "PTC" Rattanasukol.

No one would have expected FULL SENSE to perform as well as they did coming in. But they showed that they have plenty of skill. They're off to Champions, where they'll become the second Thai team and third Southeast Asian team at the big event, alongside X10 Esports and Team Secret. Korea and Japan will only have one representative each.

Big results for Japan and South Asia

No one expected Japan to perform as well as they did. Their best team, ZETA DIVISION, pulled out of the event. As a result, NORTHEPTION were put in. They were a solid and exciting team, led by Seoldam, better known as the "Korean Jett" of Youtube fame. But they had been solidly worse than ZETA in Stage 3, and not much was expected.

But Nth blew all that out of the water. They kicked off with a bang, knocking F4Q out of the upper bracket, and continued a fantastic run. They beat FULL SENSE in the upper bracket final, but couldn't repeat in the grand finals. Even so, it was a great result. Alongside wins by Crazy Raccoon and ZETA at Masters Berlin, it's more proof for Japan that their teams can compete. Japan has shown more interest in VALORANT than maybe any other PC game, NORTHEPTION's success is huge for the scene.

While they didn't fare as well as NORTHEPTION did, it was also a big result for Global Esports. South Asia has shown a huge interest in VALORANT, but have never gotten to play internationally until the LCQ. Global Esports had a lot of hype, especially around their Jett, Ganesh "SkRossi" Gangadhar. Taking down the Korean team that would eventually finish third is a big achievement, and we'll certainly see more out of South Asia in the future.

In the end, what we learned from the APAC LCQ is that we know nothing. FULL SENSE are off to Champions, and looked good doing so. How quickly is Japan improving? Is Korea worse than we thought? Is South Asia better? We'll probably have to wait until 2022's VCT to truly find out.

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