Stage 2 of the European VALORANT Champions Tour has a new format for its Challengers portion. In Stage 1, Challengers in Europe was just a qualifying bracket with no semifinals, grand finals or storylines to follow. The new European VCT Stage 2 format, however, is a single-elimination tournament. Qualifier games will be streamed thanks to community and caster feedback.
In the previous format, teams would go from an open qualifier to the final four. This didn’t give fans much to invest in. Also, some matches were not streamed to the public. This new format changes that.
WE GET TO SHOW YOU ALL THE GAMES.
— Lauren Scott 🎃 (@pansy) April 8, 2021
European VCT Stage 2 format
With the new format, the top two teams from Challengers 1 and 2 will qualify for Challengers playoffs. The playoffs will decide which two teams from Europe, Turkey and the Commonwealth of Independent States regions will compete at Masters 2 in Iceland. The new Challengers’ single elimination format is an upgrade from Stage 1; a double-elimination bracket like North America has is a better approach, according to pro players.
“NA format is the best,” said Alex “AKUMAAAAA” Lo Bello, a player on the unsigned squad Opportunists. “Double elimination, best-of-threes everywhere, it’s the best.”
The positives of double elimination
For new teams in a VCT event, the competition can be daunting. In Europe, only one new team joined the VCT field for Stage 2 Challengers 1. Team Vitality qualified over G2 Esports and replaced the Polish squad, Balista, from Stage 1. Vitality came in as massive underdogs and bowed out of the tournament almost immediately.
“Single elimination is too hard for underdogs and new teams,” AKUMAAAAA said.
In NA, Vitality would have been knocked into the lower bracket with the opportunity to still make a deep run in the tournament.
Double-elimination also gives a buffer to teams that start slow. FunPlus Phoenix, the winners of Stage 2 Challengers 1, often start off slow despite being a top squad in Europe. They dropped the first map to Opportunist in the Challengers 1 semifinals. After the match, Tobias “ShadoW” Flodström said the team felt tense during the first map. In a double-elimination setting, the squad’s nerves might’ve settled.
“I would like to have double elimination sometimes,” ShadoW said. “This makes the first game not so nervous.”
According to ShadoW, the Stage 2 Challengers 1 event felt the same as the previous format. The team just needs to win the next game, one after the other.
“Not really a difference, we’re just focusing on our things,” said Pontus “Zyppan” Eek, one of ShadoW’s teammates. “One game at a time.”
For ShadoW, the best European VCT Stage 2 format is single elimination until top eight, followed by double elimination. But, the region has yet to have a major tournament with double elimination throughout. However, with the way community feedback has impacted the format already, that may change.