The VALORANT Champions 2021 Group Stage has officially concluded. Across six days of intense action in Berlin, 16 of the world’s best teams competed for a cut of the million-dollar prize pool. Only eight of these champions move on to the tournament Playoffs.
The VALORANT Champions Group Stage uses a double-elimination format to determine who moves on to the Playoffs. The opening round for each group pits two teams against one another. The winners face off in the next round while the losers play in an elimination match. The victor of the winners’ match earns a spot in the Playoffs with a 2-0 record. The two remaining teams with 1-1 records then play to determine the second squad advancing to the Playoffs from that group.
With a stacked field of teams and immense stakes on the line, the first stage of VALORANT Champions 2021 did not disappoint. Here are the top storylines from the first week of matches.
X10 CRIT Set On Writing a New Underdog Story
Group A was arguably the most stacked collection of teams in the entire tournament. Acend is considered by many to be the #1 ranked team in the world. Team Envy is one of the most prestigious organizations in North America. Keyd Stars is arguably the top team in Brazil. The odd team of the bunch is X10 CRIT, a lesser-known squad from Thailand.
X10 CRIT qualified for VALORANT Champions with the most points in the Southeast Asia Circuit. They outlasted several regional titans, including Paper Rex, Boom Esports, and Alter Ego. Despite earning their spot in convincing fashion, X10 CRIT entered the event as one of the most unlikely squads to advance to the Playoffs. This seemed to be a sure bet, given how outmatched they were in their group. However, X10 CRIT was keen on shaking up the status quo.
Things got off to a rocky start for X10 CRIT early in the Group Stage. They dropped their opening match to Team Envy 2-0 in a rather embarrassing fashion, losing 13-8 and 13-7. X10 CRIT quickly found themselves facing elimination against another juggernaut squad, Keyd Stars. In a shocking upset, X10 CRIT thoroughly dominated their Brazilian foes 13-6 on Icebox and 13-5 on Haven. The Thai underdogs used two different Agent compositions for each map, showing off their versatility. With Team Envy losing their winners’ match against Acend, a rematch was set to determine who advanced to the Playoffs.
Team Envy were heavy favorites going into their elimination match against X10 Crit. The American squad finished second in their regional standings and were coming off a 2nd place finish at VCT Berlin Masters last September. Meanwhile, X10 CRIT was the Cinderella story who many thought were just lucky to be there. After winning 13-10 on Icebox to take an early 1-0 lead, Team Envy looked to be on their way to the Playoffs. X10 CRIT had other plans.
In an incredible turnaround, X10 CRIT won the second map 13-8 on Team Envy’s map pick, Split. With the match tied 1-1, one last game on Haven decided both teams' fates. After Team Envy jumped out to a 9-3 lead, X10 CRIT won five straight rounds to get themselves back into the match. Team Envy took the next two rounds to go up 11-8, but X10 CRIT went on another surge, winning four straight rounds to take the lead 12-11 and put themselves on match point. However, Team Envy won the next round to force overtime. With everything on the line, X10 CRIT won both overtime rounds to win the match 14-12 and advance to the Playoffs.
X10 CRIT’s incredible comeback against the odds has everyone rooting for them the rest of the way at VALORANT Champions 2021. Next, they take on Russia’s Gambit Esports in the Quarterfinals.
KRU Esports Silence Sentinels
Like X10 CRIT, Chilean organization KRU Esports also had an unexpected run in Group B. One of their upsets carried extra weight because of some controversy involving other teams in the group. The group featured a pair of powerhouses in Team Liquid and Sentinels and Brazilian stalwarts FURIA Esports. With KRU being looked at as an afterthought in the group, all eyes were on the tension building between Sentinels and FURIA.
Sentinels and FURIA met in the opening round for Group B. During the final map of their match, FURIA were staging a comeback before a 15-minute tech pause ensued. Riot Games explained that FURIA’s Alexandre “xand” Zizi used a jumping exploit, which led to the prolonged break. Many fans viewed this as a bad call and it was even questioned by Sentinels player Tyson “tenZ” Ngo. The extensive stoppage in play derailed FURIA’s momentum and allowed their opponents to regroup and adjust their tactics. Sentinels ended up winning the map 13-9 to take the match.
Afterward, Sentinels’ Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan tried to poke fun at the situation but was met with angry retaliation from Brazilian fans and players alike. His teammate Jared “zombs” Gitlin crudely responded by calling Brazil a “sh-t region,” inciting more anger. FURIA’s co-CEO Andre Akkari called for Riot to punish zombs for his blatant disrespect, to which zombs showed no remorse. Sentinels would go on to lose their winners’ match against Team Liquid. They were left waiting for the result of FURIA vs. KRU in their losers’ elimination match.
With both teams facing elimination, it’s safe to say fans were hoping FURIA could overcome KRU to earn a rematch with Sentinels. FURIA won the first map 13-11, leaving everyone gearing up for more fireworks in their suspected rematch with Sentinels. However, the esports pride of Brazil failed to seal the deal against the team in front of them. KRU rebounded to win the next two maps in convincing fashion, 13-8 on Ascent and 13-9 on Haven. KRU had ruined FURIA’s hopes for revenge against Sentinels but intended to avenge the fallen squad.
While KRU Esports hails from Chile and not Brazil, both countries are part of the larger South American region. While zombs specifically referred to Brazil in a derogatory manner, South America tends to stand together in most esports scenes. Aside from the chance at a historic upset, KRU was motivated by regional pride and to prove Sentinels and all their other doubters wrong. The American juggernauts got off to a dominating start, winning 13-7 on Fracture. KRU then answered with a 13-11 win on Haven despite ShahZaM’s 27/14//9 performance. Sh-t-talker zombs finished the round with an abysmal -14 KD ratio. The Chileans then gutted out another 13-11 win on Split to take the match and eliminate Sentinels from the tournament.
While they don’t represent Brazil, KRU Esports shut down zombs’ insults and proved to everyone there is serious talent in South American VALORANT. They take on Fnatic next in the final match of the Quarterfinals.
Final Group Stage Results
While Groups A and B dominated the headlines from the Group Stage, Groups C and D were also packed with riveting matches. In Group C, Gambit Esports cruised their way past Team Secret and Team Vikings to advance to the Playoffs. Meanwhile, Team Secret overcame that early defeat, routing Crazy Raccoon and Team Vikings 2-0 each to punch their ticket to the Quarterfinals.
Group D could’ve been considered the “group of death” given how evenly matched the teams were. Fnatic, Cloud9, and Vision Strikers are all top teams in their respective regions. Any one of them could win the entire tournament to the surprise of no one. Thailand’s FULL SENSE may be the black sheep of the group, but are still one of the best teams in Southeast Asia. In a group completely up for grabs, Fnatic and Cloud9 escaped the mayhem to secure their spots in the Playoffs.
Check out the full results for the VALORANT Champions Group Stage below:
X10 CRIT (Thailand)
Team Envy (United States)
Keyd Stars (Brazil)
Acend def. Keyd Stars 2-1
Team Envy def. X10 CRIT 2-0
Acend def. Team Envy 2-0
X10 CRIT def. Keyd Stars 2-0
X10 CRIT def. Team Envy 2-1
Team Liquid (Europe)
KRU Esports (Chile)
Sentinels (United States)
FURIA Esports (Brazil)
Team Liquid def. KRU Esports 2-0
Sentinels def. FURIA Esports 2-1
Team Liquid def. Sentinels 2-1
KRU Esports def. FURIA Esports 2-1
KRU Esports def. Sentinels 2-1
Gambit Esports (Russia)
Team Secret (Philippines)
Team Vikings (Brazil)
Crazy Raccoon (Japan)
Team Vikings def. Crazy Raccoon 2-0
Gambit Esports def. Team Secret 2-1
Gambit Esports def. Team Vikings 2-1
Team Secret def. Crazy Raccoon 2-0
Team Secret def. Team Vikings 2-0
Cloud9 (United States)
Vision Strikers (South Korea)
FULL SENSE (Thailand)
Vision Strikers def. FULL SENSE 2-0
FNatic def. Cloud9 2-1
Fnatic def. Vision Strikers 2-1
Cloud9 def. FULL SENSE 2-0
Cloud9 def. Vision Strikers 2-1
Round 1 Playoff Matchups
Acend vs. Team Secret
Team Liquid vs. Cloud9
Gambit Esports vs. X10 CRIT
Fnatic vs. KRU Esports
Read this next
A beginner's guide to Valorant Champions
Valorant has emerged as one of the biggest multiplayer games in the last year and a half.
A brief history of mechanics in esports
Aiming and shooting is the default approach to taking out targets, but have you considered what needs to be done before you’re able to aim and shoot?
Everything you need to know about Valorant's Jett
Valorant has a lot of Agents and each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Some Agents are only strong in certain maps, while others are all-rounders who hold their own in all the game maps.
How Valorant became the most popular FPS in the world
Valorant was released on June 2, 2020, for PC—though the game had a closed and open beta before this. Since then, it has grown not only as one of the most popular FPS games in the world but one of the biggest multiplayer games in the industry. Even months before its release, many industry figures saw Valorant as the successor or rival to the biggest FPS of that time—and one of biggest in the history of first-person shooters—Valve’s CS:GO. Others compared it more with Overwatch.