Sixteen teams from across Southeast Asia will compete in the SEA Challengers Playoffs following a month of intense qualifier competition. With an expanded format that includes a double round-robin group stage and double-elimination playoffs, only two teams out of sixteen teams will advance to Berlin for Masters 3, the second-ever interregional LAN in Valorant history.
Thailand's three Challenger events saw a mixture of established teams as well as new, upcoming fresh faces vying for the spots available in the SEA Challengers Playoffs. Established teams such as X10 Esports X10 Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #1 , FULL SENSE FULL SENSE Asia-Pacific Rank #6 , Foxy Araikordai Foxy Araikordai Asia-Pacific Rank #27 , and Sharper Esport Sharper Esport Asia-Pacific Rank #21 made their returns while rising stars that went through qualifiers such as 47 Gaming 47 Gaming Asia-Pacific Rank #175 , Need Sponsor Need Sponsor Inactive , Z11 Z11 Asia-Pacific Rank #130 , and wicket berg wicket berg Asia-Pacific Rank #151 were ready to contest the status quo.
X10 were the first team to secure a slot in Challengers 1. The squad performed well albeit without the presence of Patiphan "Patiphan" Chaiwong who was taking a break in Stage 3. Yuttanagorn "Zeus" Kaewkongyai's presence as Patiphan's replacement was more than enough for X10 to claim another appearance in the SEA Challengers Playoffs.
While FULL SENSE failed to secure their place after a defeat against X10 in Challengers 1, Chanawin "JohnOlsen" Nakchain and co. redeemed themselves in the following Challengers 2, eliminating Foxy Arakordai and FW Esports to claim their spot in the SEA Challengers Playoffs.
With one last Challengers event available, it was only Sharper Esports, Foxy Arakordai, and Need Sponsor that were deemed the favorites on grabbing the last slot. In the end, however, it was Sharper Esports that went on a near-flawless run of their bracket, eventually beating Need Sponsor 3-1 to secure the final Thailand seed in the SEA Challengers Playoffs.
Crws is ready to bring X10 Esports back to LAN (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games).
In Indonesia, while the well-known names of the scene remained stable coming into Challengers, similarly to Thailand, it was the rising teams such as NXLG Academy NXLG Academy Asia-Pacific Rank #46 , ONIC G ONIC G Asia-Pacific Rank #11 , Langit9 Langit9 Asia-Pacific Rank #162 , BEAST BEAST Asia-Pacific Rank #58 , and Cynical Cynical Asia-Pacific Rank #81 that brought a breath of fresh air and competition to the series.
While many expected BOOM Esports BOOM Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #15 to easily secure the first seed for Indonesia in Challengers 1, they were stopped in their tracks by ONIC G 2-1 in the semifinals, leading to their victory against another established team in Bigetron Astro Bigetron Astro Asia-Pacific Rank #25 on their way towards a 3-0 sweep.
BOOM Esports looked to rectify their mistakes in Challengers 2 and cruised smoothly through their quarterfinals and semifinals matches. However, an old foe awaited them as Alter Ego Alter Ego Inactive fought tooth and nail against BOOM Esports in the grand final, eventually beating them 3-2 after a back-and-forth series.
With only one more slot on the line, things were looking dire for BOOM Esports. Furthermore, with the addition of a modified format introduced for Challengers 3, teams were licking their lips at the prospect of defeating a potentially weakened BOOM. Thankfully, Gary "blaZek1ng" Dastin's squad came alive, allowing BOOM Esports to go flawless through the upper bracket and win the finals 3-0 against Rex Regum Qeon Rex Regum Qeon Asia-Pacific Rank #36 .
Bren Esports Bren Esports Inactive and Zeal Esports Zeal Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #22 (formerly known as 6045Pirates 6045Pirates Inactive ) maintained their previous rosters and were favorites to move on in Challengers 1. While Zeal failed to even reach the grand finals, Bren went through on their expectations and won against Galaxy Racer Galaxy Racer Inactive (ex- ArkAngel ArkAngel Inactive ) 3-0 to grab the first seed.
With the absence of Bren Esports in Challengers 2 the focus shifted to several of the teams that gained traction prior to the main event, such as Alpha Esports Pro Alpha Esports Pro Asia-Pacific Rank #65 and Oasis Gaming Oasis Gaming Asia-Pacific Rank #50 . But they failed to live up to expectations as they were beaten by Galaxy Racer and SV Empire SV Empire Asia-Pacific Rank #45 respectively in the semifinals, with Galaxy Racer continuing their momentum and beating SV Empire 3-1 to be the Philippines' second representative.
A huge storyline for Challengers 3 is that it will be without Zeal's appearance who failed to qualify for the main event. Even then, the competitors were more than capable to fill that role left by the former underdogs. Oasis and SunSparks SunSparks Inactive became the stars of the event, eventually meeting in the grand finals. But ultimately it was Oasis who won as they triumphed over SunSparks 3-1.
Malaysia and Singapore
Because Malaysia and Singapore only received two seeds into the SEA Challengers Playoffs, only Challengers 2 and 3 granted a qualification slot to the winner. Instead, Challengers 1 granted the top four automatic entry into the main event of Challengers 2. UwU UwU Inactive emerged as a surprise contender after a victory over Paper Rex Paper Rex Asia-Pacific Rank #5 in the upper final, but ultimately fell in the grand finals as the two teams re-matched.
Challengers 2, saw the same two teams face each other again in the grand final, but this time UwU prevailed 3-1 in one of the biggest upsets in the region.
With UwU becoming Malaysia and Singapore's first seed, the pressure was on Paper Rex to try and get back into form with the last chance available in Challengers 3. While teams like Louvre Louvre Asia-Pacific Rank #14 and Kingsmen Kingsmen Asia-Pacific Rank #13 were looking to usurp Paper Rex, in the end it was Paper Rex themselves that stayed on top of the mountain, beating Kingsmen 3-0 in a grand finals sweep.
Hong Kong and Taiwan
Like Malaysia and Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan also received only two slots, meaning Challengers 1 served as mere preview of Challengers 2 and 3. CBT Gaming CBT Gaming Asia-Pacific Rank #18 returned to stake their claim as the region's best, but met a challenger in Griffin E-Sports Griffin E-Sports Asia-Pacific Rank #44 in the grand finals. After a back-and-forth match, CBT was disqualified due to unapproved usage of VPN software by the organizers.
With Challengers 2 approaching, Griffin met CBT once again in the semifinals and CBT exacted their revenge, winning 2-0. On the other side of the bracket, a resurging Five Ace e-Sports Five Ace e-Sports Inactive defeated TRAITORS TRAITORS Asia-Pacific Rank #206 and Clutch Jeans Clutch Jeans Asia-Pacific Rank #150 to advance to the grand finals. There, CBT swept the series to become the region's first representative.
Five Ace and Griffin started on the same side of the bracket in Challengers 3, ensuring a fresh contender in the finals. Five Ace handily beat Griffin 2-1 in the semifinals, while Lightning Lightning Asia-Pacific Rank #62 defeated a returning Anti Eco Eco Club Anti Eco Eco Club Asia-Pacific Rank #30 in the opposite match. After an intense back-and-forth final, it was Five Ace who emerged as the winner.
While Vietnam joined late during Stage 2 Challengers, this time they were given a fresh slate and three slots for teams to compete for in the SEA Challengers Playoffs.
Starting in Challengers 1, it was all about Team Big BAAM Team Big BAAM Asia-Pacific Rank #12 (formerly known as Steal Your Glory Steal Your Glory Inactive ) and DivisionX Gaming DivisionX Gaming Asia-Pacific Rank #32 as they headline the later stages of the main event. After knocking DivisionX in a 2-0 victory in the upper bracket finals, Big BAAM served up a double knockout and defeating them once again 3-0 on their way on becoming Vietnam's first seed.
As Challengers 2 rolled into town, returning faces from Vietnam's Stage 2Challengers event showed up to try and qualify for the SEA Challengers Playoffs, with TiAMAT TiAMAT Asia-Pacific Rank #191 and YAMAGAN YAMAGAN Asia-Pacific Rank #37 among the most notable names. But this time it was Fancy United Esports Fancy United Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #34 and CERBERUS Esports CERBERUS Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #42 who became the stars of the main event, leading to another rematch in the grand finals as CERBERUS beat Fancy United 3-0 as a revenge for their upper bracket finals loss.
Even going into Challengers 3, there wasn't a clear cut favorite that would grab the last spot in the SEA Challengers Playoffs. This time, the hero of the story was EGO, a team that was always close to becoming Vietnam's clear best but was never able to realize that potential. After beating FEARUS FEARUS Asia-Pacific Rank #78 2-0 in the upper bracket finals, they faced a Cinderella story in the form of YAMAGAN YAMAGAN Asia-Pacific Rank #37 who clawed back from the first lower bracket matchups. But that story didn't end happily as EGO claimed their stake as Vietnam's third seed by beating YAMAGAN 3-1.
On August 5, PPGL and Riot revealed the dates and eventually the matchups for the playoffs that will determine SEA's representatives in Berlin. They will be played in a single Bo2 round-robin group stage and a double-elimination playoff bracket. The group stage will be separated into four groups, with each group's opening matches listed below:
- Bren Esports Bren Esports Inactive vs. CBT Gaming CBT Gaming Asia-Pacific Rank #18
- ONIC G ONIC G Asia-Pacific Rank #11 vs. FULL SENSE FULL SENSE Asia-Pacific Rank #6
- X10 Esports X10 Esports Asia-Pacific Rank #1 vs. Galaxy Racer Galaxy Racer Inactive
- UwU UwU Inactive vs. Alter Ego Alter Ego Inactive
While the event had originally been slated to start on August 12, due to the COVID-19 development in key SEA tournament markets, it is being pushed back to August 13 with the group stage concluding on August 16.
X10 Esports remain as the clear favorite to be one of Southeast Asia's representatives for Berlin, but without Patiphan, the possibilities of the honor could fall to other teams such as Bren Esports, BOOM Esports, and Paper Rex.