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For the second time this year, the VALORANT Champions Tour is touching down in Los Angeles, CA. After LOCK//IN São Paulo kicked off the 2023 VCT season in February, the three regions dispersed following the international competition to compete in their respective domestic leagues, with VCT Americas taking place in the Riot Games Arena this past spring. International competition resumed in June with VCT 2023: Masters Tokyo, and starting on August 6, sixteen teams will be battling it out for the claim of best competitive VALORANT squad on the planet.

With the entire VCT 2023 circuit culminating in VALORANT Champions this month, let’s take a look at five of the most captivating storylines heading into the tournament.

Fnatic’s bid at unrivaled greatness

Fnatic Boaster poses for camera

Fnatic has a chance to make history at VALORANT Champions 2023. The EMEA squad kicked off the year by winning LOCK//IN São Paulo over VCT 2022 champions LOUD, and while they fell to Team Liquid in a shocking upset in the finals of the playoffs of VCT: EMEA 2023, they redeemed themselves with another 1st place finish at VCT 2023: Masters Tokyo.

Fnatic is already the first team in VALORANT history to win back-to-back international competitions, and it’s safe to say that a third consecutive international victory at VCT Champions 2023 would solidify them as the greatest VALORANT team of all time.

Evil Geniuses — bonafide contender

Evil Geniuses VALORANT team

No VALORANT team on Earth has had a season quite like that of Evil Geniuses in 2023. After a forgettable finish at LOCK//IN São Paulo, EG began VCT Americas 0-4 and were viewed as the definitive last-place team in the league. Criticism only increased when Brendan "BcJ" Jensen – considered the best player on the struggling squad through the 0-4 start – was benched in favor of giving rookie Max "Demon1" Mazanov his shot on the big stage.

Words can’t describe how much the move paid off for EG. The team qualified for the post-season of VCT Americas by the skin of their teeth, but reached a new level in the playoffs and finished 3rd to secure a spot at Masters Tokyo. EG reached new heights in Tokyo and made an incredible run all the way to the finals before a close loss to Fnatic stopped them from bringing home the gold.

Unlike their previous tournaments this season, Evil Geniuses enter VALORANT Champions as a legitimate threat. There’s no underestimating this squad after their performance at VCT: Masters Tokyo, and it will be up to them to continue to transcend with higher expectations than they’ve had all year heading into this tournament.

LOUD looks to extend their legacy

LOUD Brazil team members VALORANT

As the reigning VCT champion, LOUD entered the 2023 season as the team to beat. Even after losing the finals of LOCK//IN São Paulo to Fnatic, LOUD re-established their dominance in VCT: Americas by finishing 1st in the regular season and the playoffs.

The good times did not continue to roll for LLL at VCT: Masters Tokyo, however – LOUD finished tied for 7th, which marked only the second time in VCT history that the Brazilian powerhouse had finished outside of the top 2 at a tournament.

VALORANT Champions 2023 is an opportunity for LOUD to match their glory from the previous year, but if the report by Rod “Slasher” Breslau regarding the team’s internal conflict with VCT Americas’ highest-rated player Erick "aspas" Santos rings true, LOUD’s time in the limelight as a top team could be coming to an end.

A tale of two KRÜs

Klaus hugging teammate VCT

Heading into VCT Americas 2023, KRÜ Esports had not missed an international competition in the history of VALORANT esports. That pressure must have gotten to the Argentine side – KRÜ finished the Americas season 0-9 and missed Masters Tokyo qualification by a country mile, with many of the losses coming in close matches as a result of crumbling to pressure late in their matches.

KRÜ reversed their curse in the VCT Americas 2023: Last Chance Qualifier by going undefeated in their run to winning the whole event and qualifying for Champions. The achievement is quite impressive in a vacuum, but the accomplishment will feel quite hollow if the KRÜ Esports that shows up at Champions hasn’t built upon what they were able to show in the LCQ.

EDG could bring China to new heights

Edward Gaming celebration VALORANT

EDward Gaming turned heads when they eliminated LOUD from VCT 2023: Masters Tokyo without dropping a map and finished in the top 6 at the event. Since then, EDG has only built upon their performance in Tokyo, losing only one of 12 maps on their way to winning the China Qualifier and punching their ticket to Champions.

With arguably the most electrifying talent in the game right now in duelist Zheng "ZmjjKK" Yongkang, who earned MVP in the China Qualiifer for his incredible individual play, EDG has a chance to put their country on the map like never before at VALORANT Champions 2023.