VALORANT's tournament system has undergone a mammoth change by Riot Games with a league system being introduced for all of the major regions, with major tournaments complimenting the regional events.
It is now harder than ever for teams to break onto the world stage, but for 30 teams, their first opportunity will be in Sao Paulo for the Champions Tour 2023: LOCK//IN tournament.
Teams from around the world will descend on Brazil for the opening stage of the 2023 Champions Tour and with new line-ups aplenty, there could be plenty of value in the outright market.
Natus Vincere, whose roster consists of ANGE1, Shao, Zyppan, SUYGETSU and cNed, are expected to do well. It can be little surprise that the European squad sit atop of the tree, given their 2022 form.
Competing previously under the FunPlus Phoenix banner, they won VCT Masters in Copenhagen and were far from disgraced at the year-ending Champions event, where they were knocked out by an in-form DRX side.
A roster that has been unchanged for a long while, they offer stability that some teams cannot boast heading into a new age. Their odds are skinny, given the volume of teams, but it is hard to argue that they are not a solid option.
A roster which has undergone surgery is Sentinels, who will head into 2023 looking to avenge a disastrous end to the 2022 campaign.
The best team in VALORANT when the game first went competitive, they failed to qualify for the Champions event after losing six games in a row domestically.
There is hope for Sentinels, however, who have added LOUD duo pancada and Sacy to their ranks. Alongside TenZ and dephh, Sentinels have a wealth of experience and talent that will make them an enormous threat in 2023.
They also boast SicK as an active sixth man, which gives even more depth to an already stacked roster. If all the components are firing on all cylinders, this is perhaps the scariest team in the VCT.
They are yet to get their big break on the international stage, but Fnatic always provide a dangerous threat with their enigmatic and stoic roster.
Reaching the playoffs at VCT Masters in Copenhagen and Champions in Istanbul, Fnatic head into 2023 with an exciting roster of Boaster, Leo, Derke, Chronicle and Alfajer.
Boaster’s calling and Derke’s fragging capabilities always make the European roster a threat and, although they are likely to fall short, do not be surprised by a strong showing.
A dominant force in South Korea, DRX showed up to devastating effect on the world stage at the year-end Champions event.
Their upper bracket run was only ended by eventual winners LOUD and they went down 2-3 against OpTic in the lower bracket final, where their tournament came to an end.
BuZz announced himself as a DPS star and his teammates stax, Rb, Zest, MaKo and Foxy9 are no slouches either. Consistency has come easy to this roster and they are a key contender at the opening event.
This market is fiercely competitive with so many unknowns, but it is still a surprise to see Cloud9 at such a price.
The all-American roster is home to the world’s best player, yay, who earned endless plaudits when part of OpTic Gaming on the 2022 circuit. In 2023, he will be flanked by vanity, Xeppaa, leaf and Zellsis, a strong mix of talent, youth and experience.
Their performance at the Red Bull Home Ground event showed the potential this roster possesses and it would be a surprise if they were not dangerous.
The winners of the year-ending Champions tournament, LOUD dropped just one game on their way to a dominant success.
The problem for LOUD, however, is the loss of pancada and Sacy to Sentinels. That is a bitter blow and although the additions of tuyz and cauanzin are strong, they are not on the level of the players they are replacing.
It would be foolish to underestimate LOUD, who have retained their core of aspas, saadhak and Less, but they might be a side that needs a tournament or two to get back to their very best after such a big change.
NRG () acquired the old OpTic Gaming roster and their core of FNS, Crashies and Victor could be the team to watch. The additions of ardiis and s0m make them even more potent and they could well be the dark horses of the tournament.