The event was pushed hard by Riot, in a similar fashion to Game Changers, and worked as the game’s second-ever LAN. Egypt’s Anubis walked home as the victors. (Image: Red Bull)
Riot Games have clearly been trying to do things differently with VALORANT. They’ve looked at the esports space and made conscious decisions to change things. Game Changers is a great example, with Riot advertising women’s competition at a high level. Similarly, they’ve pushed the collegiate competition Red Bull Campus Clutch, which culminated with the world finals in Spain this weekend.
It was VALORANT’s second-ever LAN, and brought teams from across the world together. In the end, it was underdogs Egypt who walked home as the winners.
An offline environment for collegiate VALORANT
Part of Riot’s big support for this event was offline play. Campus Clutch is VALORANT’s second-ever international offline event (the first of course being Masters Reykjavik), and featured teams from around the world. Spain, the United States, South Korea, Belarus, Peru, and New Zealand were just some of the 12 teams.
In addition to flying all teams out (only one was unable to make it), casters and talent were all offline too. It was the first serious LAN for Gustavo “Upmind” Franco Dominigues, usually a North American VCT caster. He described to Esports.gg how much he learned from the experience.
“I feel as if all of my experience before COVID was purely amateur; this LAN showed me the importance of professionalism and preparedness,” he said. “The biggest difference is just contact with my co-caster. Like players, I just feel so much more chemistry and fluidity with my caster next to me. It’s just more accessible and it’s now much much easier to change things on the fly about our casting if things go off the rails.”
“Also, to be frank, that fist bump after going off camera feels amazing.”
Underdog regions clash in Campus Clutch finals
Throughout all of Campus Clutch, even the qualifiers, we saw underdog regions topple the larger ones. Bay Area Vandals, the USA’s representatives, fell out in the group stages, as did the hyped Turkish side. Korea and Canada both went down in the semi-finals, setting up a grand finals between Egypt’s Anubis Gaming and Portugal’s Project S.
Anubis have been one of MENA’s best teams since VALORANT began. Leading the way for them was duelist Mohamed “shalaby” Shalaby, statistically one of the best players in the world. For Portugal, the star was For The Win Esports player João “janny” Costa, whose Jett was the terror of the tournament.
Project S started off hot. The first map, Bind, was relatively close, before they put together a dominant 13-0 on Icebox. Ian “k1zpawn” Rebelo put up 515 ACS over the map. But despite the domination, Anubis clawed back. Ascent was one-sided in the other direction, 13-2 for Anubis. Closer Breeze and Split wins sealed the deal for the Egyptians, winning them 20,000$ and a trip to spectate Masters Berlin.
“[The win] feels amazing,” chrollo said in the post-match interview. “We came so far, we had some troubles to travel here, I’m so happy.” “It means alot for us. We have been on a long journey, long qualifiers, and it finally pays off. Thank god,” Ziyad “zizox” ElSawaaf added.
Immediately after Anubis’ Campus Clutch victory, a report dropped that European giants Team Vitality are looking to add shalaby to their roster.
Should we see more events like this?
Campus Clutch ended up being a pretty successful event. Nearly 15,000 viewers tuned in to watch the grand final. For any other esport, getting that much viewership for a collegiate event would be impossible. So now the question becomes: even as COVID settles down and LANs return, should Riot keep this tournament series going?
Upmind thinks so, especially if Red Bull put the same effort into it that they did here. “They brought in the right people, the right talent, abundant resources, and the attention to detail that has never been given to the collegiate scene by a non-grassroots org,” he said. “The tournament format I think needs some work, but from what I’ve heard, the players had a lot of fun and some are already planning on coming to a Campus Clutch 2 if it happens.”
“Collegiate is going to play a pivotal part in the future of esports. Riot and Red Bull really did pull the right strings to keep this tournament both on track (no delays AT ALL) and just fun in general,” he added.