VALORANT publisher Riot Games unveiled its list of partner teams which would compete across three international leagues: EMEA, the Americas and Pacific. The publisher implemented a hybrid franchise system in which permanent partnered teams compete alongside promoted teams.
The new format looks to continue the growth of VALORANT esports by providing long-term support, stability and revenue opportunities to select organisations.
But who are the chosen teams that have been selected to represent the Americas (North America, Brazil and LATAM)? This article provides a brief background and history of VCT’s partner teams.
A staple of North American esports since its formation in 2013, Cloud9 made its debut in the VALORANT scene in 2020 and has competed in the region’s Challengers ecosystem. Notably, the organisation reached the quarter-finals of VALORANT Champions in 2021, ultimately losing to Team Liquid.
This year the organisation missed out on yet another VCT Champions appearance, placing 4th in North America’s last chance qualifier. For a brief period of time in 2020, Cloud9 also had a South Korean roster.
Outside of VALORANT, the organisation has garnered competitive success in League of Legends, CS:GO and Halo, among others. Cloud9 is also the owner of Overwatch League franchise London Spitfire. Some of Cloud9’s notable recent achievements include winning Intel Extreme Masters XVII – Dallas (CS:GO) and the Halo Championship Series 2021 Kickoff Major. Additionally, the organisation has claimed five League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) titles, the second-most in North America.
Formed by former Call of Duty player Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag, 100 Thieves quickly grew to become a prominent organisation within the League of Legends ecosystem since joining North America’s franchised league (LCS) in 2018.
The organisation was originally founded in 2016, fielding a Call of Duty roster, however the team disbanded in the same year. 100 Thieves has a strong affiliation with NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers since its resurrection following a multi-million dollar investment from the club’s owner Dan Gilbert to support its re-entry into the scene.
Since then the organisation has claimed an LCS title in 2021 and expanded its competitive portfolio to include Fortnite, Apex Legends and VALORANT, among others. In Riot’s FPS title, 100 Thieves qualified for VALORANT Champions 2022 through North America’s last chance qualifier. The organisation also competed in two VCT Masters events in 2021, Stages 1 and 3.
Whilst Sentinels may seem like a relatively new name in the esports ecosystem, its origins date back to 2016 under the moniker Phoenix1. Having competed in the pre-franchised North American LCS and temporarily operating Overwatch League franchise Los Angeles Gladiators, Phoenix1 later rebranded in 2018 to Sentinels.
Since then the organisation has competed in Hearthstone, Fortnite, Halo and VALORANT, the latter of which materialised in 2020. The side quickly made a name for itself within the VALORANT Champions Tour, winning the title’s first two Masters events —VCT 2021 Masters North America and Reykjavík.
Outside of VALORANT, the organisation has also found success within the Halo and Fortnite scene, notably winning the Halo Championship Series 2022: Kansas City Major earlier this year and the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals (Solo).
NRG is another one of North America’s old guards that continues to make a name for itself. The organisation was founded in 2015, when the owners of NBA’s Sacramento Kings purchased esports organisation Team Coast, which at the time was competing in the League of Legends ecosystem.
From a competitive standpoint, the organisation has yet to make a major impact within the VALORANT Champions Tour scene. However, NRG’s highest finish was this year, placing 4th during VCT 2022: North America Stage 2 Challengers. The organisation has however achieved greater success in its other competitive titles, such as Rocket League, Apex Legends, and Overwatch through San Francisco Shock. Some of the NRG’s crowning moments include winning the Overwatch League 2020 Grand Finals, RLCS Season X North American Championship, and competing at this year’s Apex Legends Global Series Championship.
Evil Geniuses is perhaps one of the least successful organisations within VALORANT compared to its other North American participants. However, Evil Geniuses has a historic tenure within the esports scene, dating all the way back to 1999. Originally starting as a Quake clan, the organisation went on to expand into a vast number of titles such as World of Warcraft, Dota, StarCraft, the FGC and Counter-Strike scenes, among many others.
Currently, the organisation operates in League of Legends as a franchised team in the LCS, Rocket League, CS:GO, VALORANT and Dota 2. Alongside a list of accolades that span over 20 years, the organisation was recently crowned LCS 2022 Spring Champion.
Given the size and high profile of LOUD, it’s easy to mistake the organisation for having been around a long time. In fact, LOUD was only founded in 2019, by Bruno ‘Playhard’ Bittencourt, Jean Ortega and Matthew Ho.
The organisation quickly grew to become a media powerhouse in Brazil, investing even in the music and fashion industries. Through lifestyle-focused content and its performances in the Brazilian Free Fire League (LBFF), LOUD became the first esports organisation in the world to reach 1bn views on YouTube after just over one year.
Its success in tournaments, though, is a more recent trend. Despite having a strong Free Fire team since its foundation, LOUD only really achieved the status of ‘competitive powerhouse’ in 2022. This saw the organisation win a split of the LBFF, Split 2 2022 of the Brazilian League of Legends Championship (CBLOL) and the world title at VALORANT Champions Istanbul.
Nevertheless, even if the world championship launched LOUD to the top of the esport in September 2022, the organisation was already considered the best team in Brazil since its creation in February 2022. Aside from VALORANT Champions LOUD notably was the runner-up at VCT 2022 Reykjavik.
Known as ‘The Brazilian Powerhouse’, FURIA reached international prominence mainly through CS:GO, having one of the best teams in the world and being a part of the ESL Pro League. Led since its foundation in 2017 by Jaime Pádua and poker pro André Akkari, the organisation also competes in League of Legends, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Free Fire, and Rainbow Six Siege, holding rosters both in Brazil and in the U.S.
The organisation also invests in lifestyle content, experiences with the community, and in competitions on the edge of the esports spectrum, like chess, motorsport and even fighting.
Commercially, FURIA is one of the most successful in Brazil, holding deals with brands like PokerStars, Red Bull and FTX. In VALORANT, the organisation has featured a roster since 2021. The team qualified for two editions of VALORANT Champions, Berlin 2021 and Istanbul 2022, but on both occasions did not get past the first stage.
MIBR has been owned by Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), a North American esports conglomerate that heavily invests in Brazil, since 2018. However, the history of the MIBR name goes way back to the beginnings of esports, being one of Brazil’s most representative brands in CS:GO since 2003.
The organisation, under the management of CEO Roberta Coelho since 2021, has boosted its competitive, media, and business pillars in 2022, launching initiatives such as WIBR.
Having entered VALORANT in January 2022, MIBR has not had significant results or much participation in the international VALORANT scene prior to receiving VCT partner status. However, its women’s team is one of the most prominent on the Brazilian Game Changers circuit, having recently won the Player1 Series Hera 4.
Founded in 2020 in Argentina by the former Manchester City player Sergio Agüero, KRÜ Esports quickly made VALORANT its flagship esport. The team has never been left out of an international tournament in the game, having consistently placed 1st in LATAM qualifiers since 2021.
The organisation experienced quick growth in the esports scene, counting on the support of sponsors like Twitch, AMD, and Aorus, which were with the organisation since its foundation. Nowadays, KRÜ is one of the most relevant organisations in Argentina and also has operations in Europe.
Following its founder’s professional roots, KRÜ also fields rosters in FIFA, as well as Rocket League and League of Legends.
Founded in Argentina by Fernando ‘F10’ Diez, Leviatán is looking to represent Latin America as a whole.
Alongside VALORANT, Leviatán also fields rosters in the Free Fire Latinoamerica League, in LVP’s League of Legends Liga Master Flow, plus Wild Rift, Warzone, Rocket League, and CS:GO.
Participation in multiple competitions, plus the reach of over 10m fans across social media channels, has earnt Leviatán a sponsorship deal with fast food franchise KFC.
Leviatán has had a VALORANT roster since 2021. However, it came into VALORANT’s international spotlight when, during the VALORANT Champions Istanbul 2022, it qualified for the competition’s playoffs after beating Team Liquid and Paper Rex.