With the first-ever Valorant Champions set to kick off in less than 24 hours, let's take a look at all of the teams competing.
Who has a chance to win it all? Who will probably lose-out in the group stage? That's what we'll be discussing, below.
We broke our rankings into categories: early exits, Cinderella stories, strong contenders, and favorites. Here's Jaxon's official picks for Champions 2021.
In this section, we'll cover the teams that we project to lose in the first round. In our estimation, there's no way these teams make it out of the group stage.
FURIA is probably at the bottom of most Champions power rankings lists, for the sheer fact that we've never seen them on an international stage.
The team never qualified for Masters, making it through the South America LCQ on their way to Champs.
Although FURIA was always in the mix in Brazil, they're coming out of one of the weaker regions in Valorant. A lack of LAN experience and a weak region combine to make them last on our PR list.
Team Vikings is the Brazilian counterpart to FURIA, making it to Champs through qualifications points.
Although we've seen Vikings take the international stage, their record doesn't serve them too well - nor does Brazil's record on the whole.
Vikings will have a chance to prove us wrong by beating Crazy Raccoons in the first round of the group stage, but there's little chance they make it past Gambit and Team Secret to get past the first stage of the event.
Crazy Raccoon out of Japan is one of the more experienced teams on this list when it comes to playing on a global stage. They made it to both Masters events, which gave them enough points to make it to Champions.
Unfortunately, their record against teams competing in Champions is 0-3, with another loss to Version1 in Masters Reykjavik.
CR face Vikings in the first round of the group stage, which they could win, but we don't like their chances after that.
X10 will be a "Caldarella story" pick for some pundits after their performance in Masters Reykjavik.
Unfortunately, I don't see any way that they'll make it out of a group stage that features Envy, Acend, and Keyd Stars.
X10 would only be considered a contender because of one player: Patiphan. Patiphan carried his team to a win over Crazy Raccoon before suffering an injury and missing the next competitive season.
Still, the team lost 0-2 to Vikings and Fnatic in the same event, suggesting there's hardly a chance they make it past Groups.
Crazy Racoon via Riot Games
Here, we'll discuss the teams that have a small chance to get out of the group stage, but would need to rely on some massive upsets to make it deep into the tournament.
So far, Keyd Stars has been the best team that Brazil has to offer.
They played some close games in Masters 2 against both Envy and KRÜ. Although the games were 2-0, they took Envy to overtime and didn't lose by more than 2 rounds.
Still, it's a longshot for Keyd to make it out of their group that also features Acend and Envy.
KRÜ has qualified for both Masters events, but have been relatively underwhelming at both - despite qualifying for Playoffs in Berlin.
If you look a bit deeper, though, their wins come against some of the lower-ranked regions and they've never won against an NA or EMEA team.
If a few bounces went in the other direction against Keyd, they'd have 0 wins against any of the qualified teams. Not a great position going into Champs.
Team Secret was supposed to play in Masters Berlin but were unable to make it due to problems with their visas, giving Paper Rex a shot.
SEA teams have a terrible record against qualified Champs teams, but Team Secret should be one of the better ones in the region.
Even more than that, they have a relatively easy path out of the Group Stage. They only need to place second, and share a group with Team Vikings and Crazy Raccoon.
Full Sense hasn't shown themselves on an international stage just yet, but their in-region performance has pushed them into consideration as a possible upset pick.
On their way through the APAC LCQ, Full Sense beat DAMWON Gaming and NUTURN - the latter of which placed third in Reykjavik. They also have a recent win over X10 in FPSThailand.
The team has one of the toughest paths through the Group Stage, however, as they'll need to win against Vision Strikers, Cloud9 Blue, and Fnatic.
Acend made their international debut at Masters 2, and hopes were high for them. After all, EMEA has proven to be up there with NA as one of the strongest regions in the world.
Unfortunately, despite having one of the best Jetts in the world - cNed - the team eventually fell short with a loss to Vision Strikers in Group Stage and 100 Thieves in the playoffs.
We expect to see Acend make it out of the Group Stage with Envy, but they would have to have made some substantial changes if they want to take out the best teams in the world.
Fnatic was widely considered to be one of the best teams in the world during the first Masters tournament, but have hit a wall after their second-place finish.
Although Fnatic beat Liquid during Masters 1, they have a 1-2 record against them since, and have recent losses to Giants and TENSTAR on their resume - not great for the hopes of winning Champions.
In fact, I could see them getting ousted before the playoffs, as they'll need to outplace either Vision Strikers or Cloud9 Blue - two teams that have a lot more momentum behind them.
After narrowly missing qualification for Masters 1, VS got to ride the hype train onto the international stage at Masters 2.
South Korea is a strong, up-and-coming Valorant region and Vision Strikers is the best team they have. They even upset Acend in the Group Stage and won a map against Gambit in the Playoffs.
Vision Strikers has a puncher's chance of winning it all, but will need to fight their way through the group of death to make it to the playoffs this time around.
If you only watch major Valorant tournaments, then you'll probably be surprised to see Cloud9 this high in our rankings. They're here for one reason: the Vanity buff.
After signing Vanity away from V1, Cloud9 has only lost one match to Rise - which they eventually remedied by beating them in the same event.
C9 plowed through NA LCQ, beating hopefuls like 100 Thieves and XSET. Out of all of the teams in this section, Cloud9 is my personal pick to upset the established teams and win Champions.
Liquid has a similar story as Cloud9, with the benefit of proving that they can do it without their new toy, Nivera.
The Nivera signing immediately paid dividends for Team Liquid, as he secured an ace in the very first professional Valorant round of his career.
From there, Liquid blasted through EMEA LCQ and secured a spot at Champions. They're probably not the favorite to win the whole thing, but they're certainly in the discussion.
It feels like Envy isn't getting the respect that they deserve after a stellar Masters 2 performance, where they upset Sentinels and 100 Thieves on their way to second place.
Sure, Sentinels played them close and Gambit 3-0ed them, but they had some close maps against Gambit and blew the doors off of 100 Thieves.
I'm still putting Sentinels a small step ahead of Envy, but no one would be surprised if they walked away with Champions this year.
Sentinels looked like world beaters after Reykjavík, but they started to look human in Berlin with a map loss to G2 and eventual elimination at the hands of Envy.
We've still never seen Gambit and Sentinels play one another, so putting them below Gambit is admitted recency bias.
We haven't seen Sentinels play since their 0-2 loss to Envy. Since then, the only change was the addition of "one of" before "the best team(s) in the world."
We've only seen two international LAN events, so it stands to reason that the reigning champions will take the top spot.
Gambit showed a few flaws during their Masters Berlin run, losing Icebox to 100 Thieves and Split to Vision Strikers.
Still, without any more recent information to go on, we have to make them the favorite to win Champions.
Of course, Sentinels were the favorite to win Masters 2 and we saw how that went. That's why we have to play the games.