The dark horses of Valorant Champions 2022

Xerxia Esports walks down stairs at Valorant MastersColin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

Valorant Champions features 16 teams that have a chance at the trophy, while everyone knows the favorites for the event the dark horses have yet to be decided.

Paper Rex, OpTic Gaming, Fnatic and FunPlus Phoenix are all slated as favorites to make the Valorant Champions Grand Final, but there are still other teams that could steal a series off them or make a surprisingly deep run.

Like ZETA DIVISION before them at Stage 1 Masters, here are three teams that have to potential to become dark horse teams at the Valorant world championships.

Xerxia Esports

Xerxia Esports in a huddle before a matchColin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
Xerxia have yet to make a dent on the international stage in 2022, they might be due for a win.

Xerxia Esports qualified to Champions off of circuit points after making both Stage 1 and 2 Masters tournaments. But the team has yet to make a dent internationally this year with only one win to their name so far.

With these results, most fans have written them off, but don’t be so sure to count them out yet.

Xerxia and its squad have heaps of experience at international LANs at this point. Four out of five of its members also made multiple appearances at 2021 international events as a part of X10 Esports. The squad also has a favorable group, Group C, with only one clear cut favorite to make it out in FPX.

These players have also been a dark horse at Champions before. X10 beat out Keyd Stars and Envy in their group in 2021 to make the Playoff Stage before losing out to Gambit Esports.

While not the most exciting choice to make a deep run or cause a few upsets, Xerxia definitely hit all the criteria for putting such a run together.

100 Thieves

100 Thieves Valorant team intro graphic with in-game names100 Thieves
100 Thieves have rebuilt themselves into a Valorant Champions team.

A young team in their first appearance at an international Valorant event, sans one veteran in Peter ‘Asuna’ Mazuryk, 100 Thieves have a stellar cast of behind the scenes talent that could propel them to international glory.

Making their way to Valorant Champions through the North American Last Chance Qualifier tournament, 100 Thieves seemed to get better with every series in the lower bracket. That same phenomenon could also occur in Turkey as the squad is set to face off against tournament favorite Fnatic in their opening match.

The North American third seed has a lot going against them coming into the tournament. The squad is relatively inexperienced at LAN and Tier 1 events in general and has had less time to prepare for Champions than those who made it off of points.

But, with Sean Gares and Michael ‘Mikes’ Hockom at them helm, and young players that seem to soak up knowledge like sponges, 100 Thieves could surprise fans in their group consisting of the aforementioned Fnatic, DRX and FURIA Esports.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid Valorant in black and whiteLance Skundrich/Riot Games
Team Liquid will have to continue their hot streak at Valorant Champions

Team Liquid may be a little more than a dark horse as the EMEA third seed and having a few international play veterans on the squad, but they have yet to prove they are a threat. While the squad does have a top 10 player in Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom, Team Liquid haven’t made a deep run internationally since Champions 2021.

In 2022 the European squad has also gone through massive changes with its roster and coaching staff. The team will have a new player and coach making their international debut at this event.

With all the newness on the team, and their placement in Group A along with tournament favorites Paper Rex, Chinese powerhouse Edward Gaming and Leviatán, Team Liquid are not even favored to get out of their group.

All of this adds up to a dark horse candidate that might surprise people, especially if the rest of the team can level up their play alongside ScreaM.

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