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VALORANT Pros React to China's Impressive Run at VCT Champions 2023

China showed up in a big way at the 2023 VALORANT Champions. We spoke with top players, coaches, and fans about the region's potential in the top-level tac-shooter

China’s performance at VALORANT Champions 2023 was the best performance the region has had on the international stage. While FunPlus Phoenix failed to make it out of the group stage, EDG continued to build upon their impressive form shown at VCT Masters: Tokyo with a top 6 finish at Champions. Bilibili Gaming exceeded expectations more than any other team at the event with a top 8 finish, marking the first time China has had two squads qualify for the playoffs in an international VCT tournament.

Let’s take a look at what people in the VCT scene had to say about China’s performance at VALORANT Champions 2023.

Opponents of China at VALORANT Champions 2023

EDward Gaming is the best team in China, and their performance at VCT Masters: Tokyo was highlighted by their shocking 2-0 upset of defending champions LOUD in the first round of the lower bracket. At VALORANT Champions, EDG’s performance is perhaps best contextualized by their losses — the only teams who beat them at the tournament were the teams who finished in the top three of the event.

After EDward Gaming lost to eventual champions Evil Geniuses in the first round of playoffs, EG head coach Christine “potter” Chi heaped heavy praise on the Chinese side, who had gotten the better of EG

with a strong start on Split that led to an eventual map 1 victory.

“You know, EDG have been doing a great job this whole tournament,” potter told Esports Illustrated in the post-match press conference. “They've shown different looks each match from the first one to this being their fourth.”

The particular look EDG was far more reserved than they had looked all yeah and caught EG off balance, leading to a 7-0 start on Split before EG began to adjust. “Coming into this series, we were definitely expecting constant fights. We were expecting constant aggression,” explained potter. “They were not aggressive in the first 10 seconds. That kind of threw us off a little bit with our timings and when we wanted to fight, and it took us an entire map to get kind of comfortable and on our feet.”

potter trophy vct champions

Like EDG did to LOUD in Tokyo, Chinese teams got the better of their opponents with a distinctly different style than the franchised regions in VCT. While LOUD was able to beat EDG at Champions, Erick “aspas” Santos noticed EDG and BLG catching teams unawares the same way he and his LOUD teammates were in Tokyo.

“I think it's the fact that they play very aggressively,” aspas said of EDG at Champions. “They like to play double duelist comps on a lot of maps. That's why there is a big difference in their playstyle.

It’s not a trait only unique to EDG either — aspas went on to explain it’s the breckneck pace in which Chinese teams commit to opportunities, regardless of risk.

“I think it's something from the Chinese region,” said the LLL duelist. “Every Chinese team I've seen plays very aggressively. They are peaking everywhere and trying to kill you.”

It’s not a coincidence that Paper Rex — easily the most aggressive non-Chinese team at the tournament — was the only squad at Champions who did not drop a single map to EDG when meeting them in a match.

“It's obviously no surprise to us but it's been a surprise to other teams because they are not used to playing against aggressive Chinese teams,” PRX duelist Ilya “something” Petrov told ESI. “They’re planting the spike within 30 seconds and teams don’t know what to do.”

BLG Knight weighs in

There is a chance that China could have had two teams in the top six at VALORANT Champions 2023, but Bilibili Gaming ended up having to face EDward Gaming in the lower bracket. BLG continued to exceed expectations against their countrymen, but ultimately found themselves eliminated 2-1. In a post-game interview with ESI, BLG’s Liu “Knight” Yuxiang — with the help of translator Shi “Wendy” Wendi — spoke about his team’s exit from Champions and China’s performance as a whole.

“It definitely feels a little bit sad because this is the last time we will play on this stage,” said Knight. “Also, yesterday we didn't manage to get a win against DRX, which is why we were in this situation of facing another Chinese team.”

Knight was acutely aware that BLG’s performance, as well as that of EDG’s, were representative of not just their own strengths, but the perception of China’s strength as a region in a global context. “It feels a bit regretful that we didn't just win more to help China have more teams in the top 6,” he said with a solemn look.

Knight felt that the main reasons Chinese teams were overlooked heading into Champions was due to the region’s lack of experience on the international stage, as well as China’s dearth of elite talent in other FPS titles. However, he also agreed that the difference in regional styles may have played a part in them catching teams off-guard.

blg vs fnatic

“It feels like the biggest difference in our playstyle when compared to the playstyles of other regions is that once we see the opportunity to punish opponents, we seize it,” Knight explained. We have a very strong will to chase that opportunity inside the game.”

With China joining the VCT 2024 circuit and Shanghai hosting Masters in 2024, it’s clear that the region has made an impression in more ways than one. However, as far as competitive results go, this year’s Champions was the first time it felt like China had truly arrived on the international stage. As a franchised league next year, it’s hard to imagine a world where China isn’t even better than they were this year.

While BLG’s 2023 season ended at the hands of EDG at Champions, Knight expressed confidence that he and his teammates — as well as EDG — had done their part to bring their region respect in the future.

“Since China had two teams in the playoffs at Champions, maybe people won't underestimate us next tournament.”

All images by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games