The first year of Valorant saw competition between different regions. Sentinels from NA, Vision Strikers from Korea, EMEA’s Gambit and Acend, every team had a chance to secure their name as the first Valorant champion. Ultimately, only one managed to do so, but here are the top five teams of 2021.
Valorant saw the culmination of its first of year esports and by all means, it was a massive success. Backed by the developer, Valorant had an entire circuit planned out from its first year. With talent and an exodus of players from CS: GO to Valorant, the VCT Champions Berlin highlighted the start of Valorant’s bright future. As we head into the new year, here are the best teams from the first year of Valorant.
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Gambit: CIS dominance in Berlin
Gambit has been the best team of the year, despite losing the Grand finals to Acend. Before the VCT Champions, Gambit won VCT 2021: Stage 3 Masters – Berlin after a 3-1 victory over Team Envy. The team came in as one of the favorites to win Champions but they took their feet off the pedal at the last minute.
Gambit nAts on their Champions run: "It was historic. We did some incredible things."
Champions of Masters Berlin, dominant in the CIS and EMEA regional qualifiers, and one map win away from a World Championship at the peak level of VALORANT. Despite a heartbreaking loss to Acend, the Gambit roster realizes the impact they've made during the 2021 run
Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin was one of the best players at the event. His Viper and Cypher were instrumental in helping Gambit reach the Grand finals. With 276 kills, nAts had the highest number of kills in the entire tournament, despite losing out in the Grand Finals. Gambit has been one of the most consistent teams in Valorant’s first year and takes up first place in our rankings.
Acend – The first ever Valorant Champions
Acend won the first Valorant Championship Tour Champions Tier event. The European team was undefeated till the Grand Finals. Facing off against Gambit, the favorites to win the finals, Acend’s performance was nothing short of impressive.
Acend: the first Valorant Champions world champs, throw down Gambit 3-2
Acend is the first Valorant World Champions, defeating Gambit Esports in epic fashion 3-2, taking home the lion's share of $1 million.
Acend has had a mixed year in Valorant. The team won the European masters but failed to make it to Reykjavik. At Berlin, Acend placed 5-8th losing to 100Thieves in the quarter-finals. But at the Champions Event, cNed was in prime form with a 1.5 KDA averaging nearly 16 kills per map. Considering they faced some of the best teams throughout the event, Acend truly deserved the title.
Going into 2022, Acend will have to revamp its game as the players have to contend with their top position. Reaching the top is often easy, but holding your place at the very top is very difficult.
Sentinels – The best NA has to offer
By far the most popular team in Valorant, Sentinels did not impress at VCT Championships. The team finished in 5-8th place, which is a testament to the fact that expectations were very high from this roster.
The organization does not have much of a name outside of Valorant. They sponsored Fortnite World Cup winner Bugha, but their first real popularity was with their Valorant team. The team went undefeated to win the North American Masters. Sentinels was also the team to win the first international Valorant event, which played a big role in the team’s popularity.
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The team finished top 4 at the VCT Stage 3 Berlin and bowed out in the 5-6th place at VCT Champions. Despite not winning the last two international events, Sentinels has been fairly consistent throughout the year. The team has some flamboyant players who take big risks and are more often than not, rewarded for these risks.
Vision Strikers – Korean dominance
Vision Strikers rose to prominence after a series of wins over 100Thieves last year. The team is not only the best team from Korea, it is also one of the best teams in Valorant. Vision Strikers finished 5-8th at the VCT Masters Stage 3 Berlin, losing to the eventual Champions Gambit.
Vision Strikers Stax "We are confident we can beat any team on Fracture"
The Vision Strikers IGL spoke about Korea's representation at VCT Champs and was extremely confident of reaching the top 4 at Champs
Coming into the VCT Champions Berlin, Vision Strikers were confident they would win. Stax’s cold stare could send a shiver down your spine, partly due to the team’s confidence in its abilities. With a diverse map pool and a deep playbook, Vision Strikers was placed in Group D with Fnatic, Cloud9 and FULL SENSE. In a shocking development, Vision Strikers failed to make it to the top two, losing to Fnatic and later Cloud9.
It will be interesting to see whether Vision Strikers can continue to perform as well as in 2022. With international tournaments set to return with alarming regularity, Vision Strikers will have even have more opportunities to secure their spot in the international Valorant scene.
Team Liquid – Full of talent, survives a COVID scare and still places top 4
With well-known players from Counter-Strike such as Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen and Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom, Team Liquid’s Valorant roster is bursting at the seams with talent. ScreaM, also known as the ‘Headshot machine’ has been instrumental in Team Liquid’s performance in the first year of Valorant. But it was not just ScreaM can take all the responsibility for Team Liquid’s success. Jammppi and Nivera have been hitting all their shots in their matches.
Team Liquid finished in the top four at VCT Masters Reykjavik. The team barely missed out on Masters 3 Berlin, finishing 5-6th at the VCT EMEA Stage 3 Playoffs. But it received a lifeline in the Last Chance qualifiers as Team Liquid took down Guild esports in the Grand finals to secure a spot at Champions Berlin.
Team Liquid dismantle KRU in VCT Champions Group Stage
Team Liquid continue to ride their newfound momentum since VCT Masters Reykjavik loss.
Team Liquid was in Group B along with Sentinels, FURIA and Kru esports. Taking down Kru and Sentinels, Team Liquid topped Group B and qualified easily for the playoffs. The team then faced Cloud9 Blue in the quarterfinals to reach the top four. They lost to the eventual champions in Acend, 0-2. Despite starting the tournament with a COVID scare, Team Liquid still managed to finish in the top four in the biggest Valorant tournament. That is a commendable accomplishment, having come from the last chance qualifier.