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It’s been quite the offseason for VALORANT fans and players all around the world, but in just a few days, we will have the opportunity to finally watch our 30 partnered teams, as well as EDward Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix compete in São Paulo, Brazil. With pride, bragging rights, and, most importantly, an extra slot at VCT Masters 2023 on the line, each team has its sights set on bringing home the championship title for themselves and their respective regions.

These are some storylines that you need to keep a watchful eye on as the VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo tournament begins.

Eyes on VCT Sentinels hybrid roster going into São Paulo

TenZ Sentinels VCT Masters Reykjavik 2021

Is this the lineup that brings Sentinels back into contention in VALORANT?

How can you keep your eyes off the first dynasty organization in competitive VALORANT? When the original Sentinels lineup showcased their talents at VCT Masters Reykjavik 2021, it was a moment that all of North America could get behind and have faith that this was finally North America’s game to dominate. While that period was short-lived, Sentinels have rebuilt their entire lineup around star duelist Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, with a bevy of game knowledge and raw talent. When this lineup was first revealed, it had many people scratching their heads a the thought of a hybrid American-Brazil lineup. However, the raw talent surrounding in-game leader Rory “dephh” Jackson going into LOCK//IN is extremely high.

While this lineup has not looked all that impressive in a small sample size of games, the firepower is here. Luckily they have Don “SyykoNT” Muir to lead this ship and get this group of players on the same page. Unfortunately, their first opponent at LOCK//IN will be up against Fnatic’s star-studded EMEA lineup, but in VALORANT, anything can happen. Keep your eyes on this match.

How far can team synergy carry the top VCT Pacific teams?

DRX VALORANT Champions 2022

DRX finished third at VCT Champions 2022 and look to nab their first international title in VCT 2023

While multiple lineup changes were made in the offseason across the EMEA and the Americas regions, the top teams in the Pacific League have kept their lineup the same going into 2023.

Zeta Division and Paper Rex have all retained their entire lineups seen throughout the VCT 2022 season. Also, DRX has retained their entire lineup, though they will likely enter VCT 2023: LOCK//IN São Paulo with Jung “Foxy9” Jae-sung. With the small sample size of games we have seen from Foxy9, he is a player with many upsides. While Kim “Zest” Gi-Seok was one of the most consistent players on DRX, this firepower change could be what DRX needs to finally get themselves an international victory.

While all three teams can make a dark horse run at this tournament, the Chamber nerfs make me fearful of picking Zeta Division. Instead, keep your eyes on that possible DRX vs. Paper Rex matchup in the second round if they survive the round of 32. It will be a battle between DRX’s consistent preparation and Paper Rex’s unpredictability to decide which one of these Pacific teams has a legitimate shot at the title.

Which member of LOUD will go the furthest at LOCK//IN

VCT Champions 2022 LOUD aspas

LOUD most recently won VCT Champions 2022. Will their winning ways continue into 2023?

With VCT 2023: LOCK//IN taking place in São Paulo, this will be the tournament that Brazilian players will want to make a deep run in. The Brazilian fanbase has been wildly regarded as one of the most passionate fanbases in the world. The energy should not be any different for any of the Brazilian teams. Specifically, the biggest storyline to follow will be around the players and coaching staff that made up the LOUD lineup that won VCT Champions 2022 in September.

On one side, you have the remaining trio of Erick “aspas” Santos, Felipe “Less” Basso, and Matias “saadhak” Delipetro returning to LOUD in 2023. While many would point towards Bryan “paNcada” Luna and Gustavo “sacy” Rossi as the two key players from last year’s lineup, the existing trio still looks poised to be a top team going into 2023. Another team member that deserves mention is the previous head coach Matheus “bzkA” Tarasconin. His move to MIBR could inject structure into a lineup full of talented players, such as former Keyd Stars superstar Olavo “heat” Marcelo.

Overall, it is an exciting tournament for the Brazilian region, and I am sure the introductions for LOUD members will be met with numerous applause.

Can any player become the first team to win their second LAN event?

VCT Champions 2021 Acend

Who will lift the trophy in São Paulo?

Since the start of the VCT circuit, every international VALORANT tournament has not only had a different team win, no player has ever won more than once. Is this tournament an opportunity for any of our previous winners?

There are ten teams, 11 if you count former LOUD head coach bzkA on MIBR competing in VCT São Paulo, with at least one person who has won a previous international VALORANT tournament. With several mixed lineups containing former champions, this could be the tournament where at least one person becomes a two-time international VALORANT champion. That would undoubtedly be quite a way to kick off the 2023 season. If there is any lineup to put your money on, it would have to be the former core of FunPlus Phoenix, now under the banner, Natus Vincere. In the offseason, they retained four of their five players and picked up former VCT Champions 2021 champion star Mehmet "cNed" İpek to join their team. That being said, many of the former champions pose a strong threat to establishing their team as a contender in 2023.

Which storylines are you most excited about in the days leading up to VCT LOCK//IN São Paulo? Let us know your thoughts on which budding storylines catch your attention

VCT LOCK//IN São Paulo will officially begin on February 13 at 9 am, PST. You can watch the action unfold on VCT's Twitch and YouTube channels.