The first wave of European VCT qualifiers has come to an end, placing four more teams in Stage 1: EMEA Challengers.
2022's VCT format is going to unite several teams from the three European subregions into one long league-style tournament. Four teams, Acend Acend Europe Rank #3 , Gambit Esports Gambit Esports Inactive , Team Liquid Team Liquid Europe Rank #2 , and Fnatic Fnatic Europe Rank #6 , have been invited. Guild Esports Guild Esports Europe Rank #5 , BIG BIG Europe Rank #19 , SuperMassive Blaze SuperMassive Blaze Europe Rank #12 , and FunPlus Phoenix FunPlus Phoenix Europe Rank #11 were the first to qualify for the event.
Europe had two EMEA Challengers slots up for offer, the most among its sister regions. One for the winner of the upper bracket and another one for the winner of the lower bracket.
None of the four invited teams got off to a good start. Alliance Alliance Europe Rank #20 won a map, but still lost the series 2-1 to BIG. G2 Esports G2 Esports Europe Rank #7 , Team BDS Team BDS Europe Rank #10 , and TENSTAR TENSTAR Inactive all lost their opening matches too. Guild Esports ended up dominating the upper bracket. On their way, Guild bested TENSTAR, Rebels Gaming Rebels Gaming Europe Rank # , who were the only team they dropped a map to, and Team Vitality Team Vitality Europe Rank #13 , who they beat 3-0 in the grand final to qualify first.
In the lower bracket, Alliance eliminated G2 in a shocking 2-1 win that provoked a sudden change in the latter's lineup. BDS were knocked out by TENSTAR, who were in turn eliminated by BIG in the second round of the lower bracket. Alliance won their second lower bracket match against Rebels and went on to face BIG in the lower bracket semifinal.
In that semifinal, BIG found a 2-1 win to advance to the final. The final bout of the tournament between Team Vitality and BIG resulted in a 3-0 win for the latter, who earned themselves the second European slot in EMEA Challengers.
Turkey's Challengers 1 only had one slot open for the pan-European tournament, dedicated to whoever won the grand final.
Unlike in Europe, the invited Turkish squads actually found success and were present in every round of the tournament. The only team to be eliminated in the first round was Zero Zone, at the hands of Galakticos Galakticos Europe Rank #63 . The upper bracket was completely dominated by SuperMassive Blaze, who reached the grand final without losing a single map in three games against Zero Zone Zero Zone Inactive , BBL Esports BBL Esports Europe Rank #32 , and Fire Flux Esports Fire Flux Esports Europe Rank #41 .
In the lower bracket, BBL Esports, also an invited team, were forced to eliminate Galatasaray Esports Galatasaray Esports Europe Rank #0 and Galakticos, who previously eliminated Futbolist Futbolist Europe Rank #18 , to reach the lower bracket final. Fire Flux didn't let them through with a 2-0 win, earning a rematch with SuperMassive Blaze with an EMEA slot on the line. Much like in the upper bracket final, SuperMassive Blaze dominated the game and took a 3-1 win to reach the EMEA Challengers.
Just like Turkey, the CIS region only had one slot available for EMEA Challengers.
CIS was the only sub-region where all of the invited teams won their opening matches. The first of these to be eliminated was One Breath Gaming One Breath Gaming Inactive , who fell to FunPlus Phoenix FunPlus Phoenix Europe Rank #11 in the second round of the lower bracket. FunPlus Phoenix knocked out the invited 5MOKES squad in the semifinal to reach the final.
In the upper bracket, Natus Vincere were the first team to advance to the grand final off a near-perfect run against B8 Esports B8 Esports Inactive , One Breath Gaming and KPI Gaming KPI Gaming Europe Rank #36 . The latter faced FunPlus Phoenix in the lower bracket final for the second time in the tournament. The first time these two faced each other, KPI took a surprising 2-0 win. This time, KPI couldn't repeat the result and were handed a 2-0 defeat in the lower bracket final.
In the grand final, Natus Vincere were approaching a clean 3-0 sweep, but FunPlus Phoenix forced a fifth map, which they won 13-3 to secure a slot in EMEA Challengers.
Tomorrow, the second wave of VCT qualifiers begins across Europe. Europe has two more slots, while CIS and Turkey each have one for the pan-European event.