The stage is set for VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Berlin, the last major tournament before Champions. We’ll see 16 teams fight for prizes and qualifications for the final tournament of the season. Teams have come from all over the world — Latin America, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and more — and will meet at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin to fight for money and pride.
Bren Esports will be sitting out of Masters Berlin due to COVID-19 related visa issues, but there’s one North American squad looking for a repeat performance. Which region will come out on top? Who will defy expectations?
Check out how all 15 squads stack up against one another in Upcomer’s global power rankings ahead of Masters Berlin.
15. Crazy Raccoon
Crazy Raccoon are one of the few returning teams to Masters Berlin that fans saw exit Masters Reykjavík with a whimper. While the losses hit hard on the team in the moment, it was a lesson on how high the skill ceiling is in the world of VALORANT.
Crazy Raccoon will bring an agent specialist-filled seven-person roster to Berlin. Newly added Hideki “Fisker” Sasaki is now the team’s main Jett player, while the team’s in-game leader Byeon “Munchkin” Sang-beom has become a Skye main in Stage 3.
The team is still incredibly formulaic on Attack but they have some okay defensive set ups. The issues may come from translated shot calling. Munchkin calls the A or B hit, in Korean, and then the team either executes the attack or dies due to the less detailed nature of the translated call.
Out of all the groups for Crazy Raccoon to get, Group C may have been the toughest if they want to improve on their last international appearance and get a map win. There is a new meta, new players and improved mechanics for Crazy Raccoon to thrive in, but it’s hard to not call them the weakest team at the event and possibly the easiest fourth-place bet out of all teams.
— Declan McLaughlin
14. Paper Rex
Paper Rex are strong contenders in the Malaysia and Singapore circuit, usually making it the SEA finals. They are known for using a single win to help them steal momentum from enemy teams, rolling that into a map victory. However, they have consistently crumbled under pressure from teams like Bren Esports or X10 Esports. They’ve missed out on making it to those higher echelons of the VCT until now and must finish better than 13th place in order to make it to Champions.
The squad must address their own baggage if they hope to make it. They are commonly caught in awkward spots, forcing them to play in more unfavorable situations. Teams like SuperMassive Blaze and Acend eat these mistakes up. Paper Rex needs to tighten up their play and coordination in order to manifest any results at Masters Berlin.
— Landon Summers
13. ZETA DIVISION
ZETA DIVISION are a team that should have represented Japan at Masters 2 Reykjavík. The Japanese squad and Crazy Raccoon are still the two best teams in the region. They’ve fought before in the VCT Stage 1 Masters grand finals and the qualifier for Masters Reykjavík twice.
Crazy Raccoon failed to win a single map at the first VALORANT international LAN. ZETA DIVISION might be able to give Japan a fighting chance to earn a map win at Masters Berlin. The six-man squad takes some inspiration from EMEA, playing a lot of similar compositions. Takebayashi “barce” Ryo — the scary bald guy in their lineup photo — is their substitute that comes in to play smoke specialist on either Omen or Brimstone.
Unlike their low-ranking counterparts, ZETA DIVISION has an upbeat tempo understand their compositions, at least on attack. They also have a must-ban map in their region: Most teams do not want to challenge them on in Split. They have a lifetime 90% win rate, albeit with only 10 games played.
ZETA DIVISION may be in a tough group, but they should give Japan something more to write home about during the event. Their first group matchup with KRÜ Esports may be the perfect test to see just how good ZETA DIVISION and Japan are in VALORANT.
12. Havan Liberty
Havan Liberty will make their debut on the international VALORANT stage at Masters Berlin. They qualified in impressive fashion by not dropping a map in the qualifiers until the final.
The Brazilian squad booked their ticket to Berlin with sweeps over Stars Horizon and FURIA Esports, as well as Masters Reykjavík contenders Team Vikings. However, in the final, they got swept by Vivo Keyd, who came off an immense lower bracket run. They were close maps with two overtimes and one 13-11 loss. In the end there was still an 0-3 on the board.
Havan Liberty go into Berlin with a lot to prove, but their preparation is nothing to laugh at. They have a rigorous training system with nutritionists, physical trainers and psychologists. Additionally, according to Head Coach Ricardo “rik” Furquim, the team would not have made it without the intense scrimmage sessions. Of the teams they practiced against, according to rik, 30 to 50 percent were all-women teams, who took their practice seriously and gave it their all.
That practice paid off with their qualification. Now the true test has arrived but an international LAN is a different beast.
— Michael Kloos
The “accidental pros” have made their way to one of the biggest international competitions in VALORANT. South Korean team F4Q made their professional debut during First Strike, where they were eventually defeated by Vision Strikers — the best team in South Korea.
F4Q were known for their personalities rather than their complex understanding of the game or their individual skill. Some team members, including Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk and Kim “zunba” Joon-hyuk, made a name for themselves in other games like Overwatch. The fast and aggressive playstyle that made them famous, however, has been perfected over the course of their professional tenure.
F4Q were defeated by DWG KIA during the finals of the VALORANT Championship Tour Stage 2 Challengers; a sombering defeat for the South Korean squad. Revenge is best served cold, however, and F4Q came back with a vengeance in the VCT Stage 3 Challengers event. F4Q defeated eight teams without losing a single map. They would defeat DWG KIA twice to secure their place in the top two. However, Vision Strikers would be too much for the stream team, and they were defeated 3-1.
— George Geddes
10. KRÜ Esports
KRÜ Esports are one of the three returning teams from Masters Reykjavík. Out of the four teams up for qualification from Latin America, KRÜ are by far the strongest. Before qualifying for Masters Berlin, KRÜ had finished first at Challengers 1 for Stage 3 and Challengers playoffs.
Unlike some of the other regions attending, KRÜ are one of the few that have performed on LAN. They have experience from Reykjavík and from Challengers playoffs, giving them an advantage over other teams. KRÜ will have a better sense of how to play on LAN, especially against other teams who are playing internationally for the first time.
The team will be looking to place higher than they did at Masters 2 and show the world what LATAM is a made of.
— Danny Appleford
9. Vivo Keyd
Vivo had a recent resurgence in the Brazilian VALORANT scene to earn their spot at Masters Berlin, and it wasn’t easy. Vivo were thrown into the lower bracket after losing 2-0 to Sharks Esports in Round 1 of the tournament. From there, Vivo had to claw their way through the lower bracket and play more matches than any other team.
Along the way, Vivo defeated both of the former Masters 2 representatives in Team Vikings and Sharks Esports to advance in the lower bracket. After beating the former top teams from Brazil, they defeated Furia Esports in the semifinal before taking on Havan Liberty in the grand final. Despite being at a disadvantage from the lower bracket, Vivo smashed Havan 3-0 in the final. With the momentum they had from Challengers Playoffs, they look strong coming into Masters Berlin.
8. G2 Esports
The European team was previously touted as the best in the region, perhaps even in the world, winning almost every tournament when they first began. Since then, they’ve undergone some serious changes with multiple players going in and out from the roster. The rock, however, in former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas, remains.
Mixwell, who made the move to a Sentinel role, has allowed the team to flourish. The addition of superstar duelist Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas has pushed G2 to the next level with his consistent performances. Nukkye and Cista “keloqz” Wassim have the duelist duties on the team while Mixwell, Jose “koldamenta” Luis Aranguren and Auni “AvovA” Chahade support the two duelists on Sentinel and Initiator Agents.
However, G2 have remained relatively inconsistent. While they managed to take down some of the best in the region, including Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix and Guild during VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1, they couldn’t defeat the likes of Acend and Gambit, two of the best teams in the region.
Out of the three qualified North American teams, Envy lost to the two others during the qualifiers. First against Sentinels in Round 2, then against 100 Thieves in the lower final after already qualifying via a fairly tough lower bracket run. It stands to reason, then, that out of the three North American teams, Envy have the most work cut out for them.
However, Envy have been anything but a pushover. They took two maps off 100 Thieves and kept it relatively close against Sentinels.
The team’s been around since the early days of VALORANT, going through multiple roster changes. Envy failed to qualify for Masters 2: Reykjavík, but with the latest additions of Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker and Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen (on loan from FaZe Clan), Envy managed to punch their way through a tough region. While North America has arguably stronger representatives at Masters 3: Berlin, Envy have a decent shot at making a deep run in the tournament.
6. Vision Strikers
Vision Strikers, the pride and joy of South Korea, land this high up on Upcomer’s power rankings thanks to their top finishes in their region and influence on the VALORANT meta. The strategic-minded squad missed out on Masters Reykjavík, but they’ve gone through the Korean gauntlet again with new players and strategies.
No one challenged Vision Strikers in Stage 3. They had an easy Group Stage and went undefeated in their playoffs run. They only dropped one map to fellow Korean representatives F4Q. This team is known for saving strategies and innovative picks for the big games. Thanks to their six-man squad, and pick up of Masters Reykjavík breakout star Kim “Lakia” Jong-min, Vision Strikers should be able to contend with the worlds best in a group with two EMEA squads.
The creators of the flash-and-dash play should have something up their sleeves for Masters Berlin, beyond the power pairing of Lakia’s Skye and Kim “stax” Gu-taek’s Breach for a terrifying flurry of flash plays on Bind.
5. SuperMassive Blaze
Turkey has been one of the most active, passionate and popular regions in all of VALORANT, and now they’ll finally get a chance to show the world just how ridiculously good they are at the game. SuperMassive Blaze are the first and only team from Turkey to qualify for an international VALORANT LAN, and they did it in style.
The team formed back in May and was dubbed the “Turkish Super Team” after recruiting some of the most established players in their region paired with a couple of upcoming aim machines. Throughout all of VCT Stage 3, they only lost two best-of-threes and one best-of-five in the grand finals of the EMEA Playoffs against Gambit. Even though SMB have already reached unexpected heights in such a short amount of time, some questions remain about their ability to replicate their consistency on the international stage. Other Turkish teams have always fallen short in EMEA, and it’s time for SMB to step up and prove that they aren’t just great aimers; they have what it takes to win major trophies too.
— Yinsu Collins
4. 100 Thieves
100 Thieves are the No. 2 team out of North America behind Sentinels. Despite having varied success in the last few tournaments, 100 Thieves finally hit their stride to qualify for Masters Berlin. With decades of experience on LAN from Counter-Strike with Josh “Steel” Nissan, Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Nick “Nitr0” Cannella and Ethan “Ethan” Arnold, 100 Thieves have been dying for the opportunity to take their talents offline.
Since switching to VALORANT, the Thieves have been able to play together online but haven’t been able to challenge other teams one-on-one with even ping. They have that opportunity to overcome anyone in their path on LAN at Masters Berlin. They also have one of the easier brackets before playoffs with Havan Liberty, Crazy Racoon and Gambit on the docket.
Once upon a time, Acend were known as “cNed and four guys,” as their star player Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek was the most popular figure in Turkey and EU VALORANT. However, ever since taking home the Masters 1 trophy, Acend have propelled themselves to the top of EMEA as one of the most feared and consistent teams in the region. The departure of in-game leader Jose Luis “koldamenta” Aranguren Herrero in the offseason raised some concerns, but no one could foresee that the addition of Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt had been the missing piece to Acend’s puzzle.
With Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi taking over the in-game leading role, Acend made their way to the EMEA Challengers Playoffs without a hiccup. Even though they ended up finishing below SuperMassive Blaze and Gambit, they were the only team that actually managed to take down the CIS giants during the first qualification match. There is a reason that many players from all over the world were rooting for Acend to get to Masters Berlin because they either want to compete against them or they want to watch them compete against other top teams. If cNed and the rest of his teammates are able to show up, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
2. Gambit Esports
Despite their lack of results in EMEA prior to Stage 3, Gambit Esports have been one of the most respected and feared teams among almost all of the pros in the region. They are known as the scrim demons. It’s an achievement in itself to be able to beat them in practice but, for some reason or another, they never managed to achieve their full potential in officials until now.
The ice-cold CIS squad was one of the favorites going into Stage 3, and they did not disappoint. Despite dropping a crucial series against Acend at the EMEA playoffs, they managed to improve, adapt and evolve throughout the tournament and make an impressive run in the lower bracket. They eventually got their revenge, qualifying for Masters Berlin and taking the No. 1 seed, solidifying themselves as the best EMEA team.
Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin and Bogdan “Sheydos” Naumov are the two players to watch if you like flair. But IGL Igor “Redgar” Vlasov was the biggest surprise of Stage 3 and will be lead by example on LAN. This is the best Gambit we’ve ever seen, and they’ll be expected to go all the way at Masters Berlin unless something catastrophic happens.
The best in the world. A dynasty in the making. Sentinels are not just here to take over; they’re here to solidify their legacy.
Sentinels have defeated almost every single team in North America, but they have to play on the international stage once more. If the last VCT Masters event in Reykjavik was any indication, this could be quick. Sentinels didn’t lose a single map in their four matches they played, with Fnatic being defeated 3-0 in the grand final. But at Berlin, Sentinels have been placed into Group D, which has three teams rather than four (following Bren Esports’ removal from the event for visa-related issues). This means Sentinels have to finish in the top two in the group to secure qualification for the Elimination round.
Sentinels are still the favorites for the event, however. The best player in the world, Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, will look to bring another title to his cabinet. As the best duelist in the world, he has pushed Sentinels to the next level.
Make no mistake: teams will need to bring a new level of competitive VALORANT to dethrone Sentinels.
— Tyler Erzberger