With the conclusion of the second wave of EMEA qualifiers today, the team list for Stage 1: EMEA Challengers is now complete.
Last week, the four invited teams were made public. Shortly after, Guild Esports Guild Esports Europe Rank #4 , BIG BIG Europe Rank #15 , SuperMassive Blaze SuperMassive Blaze Europe Rank #22 and FunPlus Phoenix FunPlus Phoenix Europe Rank #1 were the first to qualify for the main event. G2 Esports G2 Esports Europe Rank #6 , LDN UTD LDN UTD Inactive , BBL Esports BBL Esports Europe Rank #16 , and Natus Vincere Natus Vincere Europe Rank #11 have completed the list of teams in EMEA's first event of 2022.
Just like last week, Europe has been awarded two EMEA Challengers slots. One of those was dedicated to the winner of the upper bracket and the other one to the winner of the lower bracket.
This week marked the return of Team Vitality Team Vitality Europe Rank #12 , Rebels Gaming Rebels Gaming Europe Rank #17 , Alliance Alliance Europe Rank #178 , and TENSTAR TENSTAR Inactive . Last week, these teams placed between third and sixth, meaning they'd have a guaranteed slot in Challengers 2. The remaining teams in this week's event debuted on the 2022 VCT, with the exception of G2, who returned through the open qualifier.
Of the four invited teams, Alliance and Rebels were the only ones unable to secure a match win, losing to G2 and EXCEL EXCEL Europe Rank #10 , respectively. After relegating Vitality and TENSTAR to the lower bracket, G2 and EXCEL faced each other off in the upper bracket final, where G2 came out on top 3-1 to qualify in first
LDN UTD lost their opening game to Vitality, but kept their heads up and went on a lower bracket rampage. First, they swept Rebels and TENSTAR 2-0. In the lower bracket semifinal rematch against Vitality, LDN UTD got revenge 2-0 and made the lower bracket final against EXCEL. The final game of the closed qualifier ended in a 3-0 winner for LDN UTD, who conquered Challengers 2's second seed for EMEA Challengers.
The eight Turkish teams present in Stage 1: Challengers 2 were all fighting for one single slot.
Invited and qualified teams split wins in the first round of the upper bracket. FUT Esports FUT Esports Europe Rank #7 and Surreal Esports Surreal Esports Inactive were the ones who found wins over the invited Galakticos Galakticos Europe Rank #113 and Galatasaray Esports Galatasaray Esports Europe Rank #68 squads. Futbolist kept their fortune for the next rounds, finding wins over BBL and Fire Flux Esports Fire Flux Esports Europe Rank #19 in the upper bracket that allowed them to reach the grand final.
Thunderbolts Gaming Thunderbolts Gaming Europe Rank #50 and Team Aurora Team Aurora Inactive were the first to be eliminated in the lower bracket. Galakticos and Galatasaray followed suit. The former were eliminated by the hand of BBL, who won two more matches in the lower bracket, against Surreal Esports and Fire Flux Esports, to reach the grand final.
The final match of Turkey's Challengers 2 was looking like a sweep for BBL Esports, but Futbolist forced a fourth map. BBL Esports ultimately won 3-1 and will return to EMEA competition for the first time since Stage 2 of 2021.
For the second week of action in CIS, the invites looked much similar. Natus Vincere, 5MOKES 5MOKES Inactive , and KPI Gaming KPI Gaming Europe Rank #23 were back. In place of One Breath Gaming One Breath Gaming Inactive , the organizers opted to invite SMARACIS eSports SMARACIS eSports Inactive . All of them would still only fight for one place in EMEA Challengers.
SMARACIS was the only invited team to finish outside the top four, as they were eliminated after just two matches. NAVI and KPI were both upset in the upper bracket semifinals, losing to 5MOKES and Tactical Five Tactical Five Inactive , respectively. These last two later played the upper bracket final and 5SMOKES came out on top 2-0.
KPI and NAVI kept themselves alive in the lower bracket. The latter took back-to-back 2-0 victories against Dobeg Dobeg Inactive and KPI to make the lower bracket final. NAVI then won that final 2-1 against Tactical Five to get a final chance of tasting EMEA competition once again in a rematch against 5MOKES.
This time, NAVI allowed no surprises and took a comfortable 3-0 win to reach EMEA Challengers. In spite of not reaching EMEA, the next four teams in the standings have automatically earned a slot in CIS's VRL.
Now comes the time for waiting. The twelve select EMEA teams will, starting on February 11, play a month-long group stage in EMEA Challengers. The top three teams will qualify for a playoffs stage, played from March 22, and the best team of each group gets a first-round BYE.
Whichever teams finish last in their group will be relegated into the VCT Promotion, a tournament that will give VRL teams a chance to reach the VCT.