Champions 2022 ended last weekend in Istanbul with LOUD as the new VALORANT champion. The tournament that brought the 2022 VALORANT season to a close for us had several surprising endings. Let's take a look at some of the most iconic ones before we leave Champions behind.
We've picked out five of the many unexpected outcomes of Champions 2022: some of them impacted the outcome of the group stage, while others ultimately affected the championship. With highlights from the matches, you can relive these amazing series to remember Champions by.
Leviatán vs Paper Rex
Group A started with a 2-0 win by Leviatán, which we certainly didn't expect. After their early elimination in Copenhagen, my expectations of Leviatán were low but they managed to surprise everyone. Paper Rex came in with a 2-1 win over EDward Gaming, and in contrast to their performance in Copenhagen, they already looked vulnerable.
Leviatán managed to take advantage of this and pull off an even easier win against Paper Rex. PRX's primary weapon Jinggg couldn't get the angles he wanted while Shyy was amazing on Fade with a 45-26 KD. After a 13-8 win on Haven, Leviatán ended the series on Bind 13-11 after coming back from 11-9 down. This result eventually led to Paper Rex's elimination in the group stage as they were defeated by TL afterwards.
Fnatic vs 100 Thieves
In Group B, our favourites were Fnatic and DRX. While the Koreans managed to beat FURIA Esports 2-0, Fnatic had to fight against 100 Thieves, who weren't even on the same level as the other North American teams OpTic and XSET. Therefore, 100 Thieves' victory over Fnatic was shocking.
The teams that worked on Pearl before participating in Champions 2022 definitely made a difference, and 100 was one of them. Even without finding special solutions for Alfajer and Derke, 100 Thieves managed to win playing their own game thanks to Will's 300 ACS and 66-45 KD. Even though 100 Thieves got that win, they couldn't steal a map from DRX and in the deciding game of the group, Fnatic took revenge and entered the playoffs.
XSET vs FunPlus Phoenix
XSET's woeful performance in Copenhagen was questioned by fans, while FunPlus Phoenix won the last international tournament and topped the EMEA. So when the two met in the Group C final, FPX was the favourite. But XSET had a completely different idea.
BcJ opened the series with his 24-7-9 Fade, bringing the first win to XSET. FPX managed to even the series with an even better performance on Fracture thanks to ardiis' 29-10 Chamber. Interestingly, the third map was also a sweep. XSET won Breeze 13-5 after winning the first half 11-1. FPX made the playoffs by defeating KRÜ in the decider match and later returned the favour against XSET in the lower bracket of the playoffs.
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XSET vs Fnatic
Let’s move on to the playoffs now. In the playoffs, there were two matches between North America and EMEA on the same day and the first was won by OpTic Gaming 2-1 against Team Liquid. Although they lost to 100, Fnatic was here to save EMEA's reputation against XSET.
However, things didn't go their way on two new maps, Pearl and Fracture. XSET started 9-3 on their own pick and finished the map 13-8. They then managed to keep Fnatic's dominance on Fracture to a minimum, taking the win from an 11-10 deficit. With this win, XSET moved on to the next round against OpTic Gaming.
Fnatic defeated TL in the lower bracket, but their run ended against DRX. XSET was eliminated in the same round as Fnatic after defeating OpTic Gaming in the upper bracket and FPX in the lower bracket. After an impressive record, XSET were eliminated early and Fnatic disappointed their fans in a tournament where they were one of the favourites.
LOUD vs OpTic Gaming
EMEA died very early, and the upper bracket was taken by Brazil and North America. Up to this point, LOUD had lost zero maps in the playoffs. Apart from one series they lost to OpTic in the groups, they were perfect. For the first time, LOUD didn't have to pull a comeback, defeating long-time rival OpTic Gaming 2-0 in the upper bracket finals.
OpTic, however, came back from the lower bracket to challenge LOUD again. Although LOUD had the better record overall, OpTic was considered the favourite. LOUD’s nearly year-long plan would work out in the end. They couldn't win a Masters tournament, but they won when it mattered the most.
On Ascent, LOUD made a comeback in overtime to win 12-8. OpTic dominated Bind, but another overtime win on Breeze for LOUD sealed the deal. I was at the venue, and everyone knew it was over for OpTic. LOUD not only had the match point now, but also the better mental state. That showed in OpTic's pick, Haven, where they won 13-5.
LOUD managed to keep all five players in the game, while OpTic relied on the incredible shooting of yay. That was what made this amazing result real for Brazil. When yay couldn't get a clutch, it was impossible for the rest of the team. LOUD crushed OpTic and took the Champions trophy as the underdogs: the most unexpected result of all.