VALORANT: Two Chinese teams to join VCT 2023 LOCK//IN
Riot Games has confirmed that two Chinese teams will join the upcoming VCT LOCK//IN VALORANT Tournament on February 13 at Ginásio do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil. This tournament marks the start of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023 season.
The two Chinese teams are EDward Gaming (EDG) and FunPlus Phoenix ZHUQUE (FPX), increasing the number of participating teams from 30 to 32. The other confirmed teams are from America, Asia Pacific and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).
In the tournament’s first match, EDG will face the 100 Thieves from America, while FPX will play Europe’s Karmine Corp.
Last year, EDG made its VCT Champions debut in Istanbul after passing the East Asian Last Chance Qualifiers. The team played against the Paper Rex from Singapore and the Netherland-based Team Liquid, losing both matches. It was the first time a Chinese eSports team competed in the international scene.
FunPlus Phoenix ZHUQUE is a relatively new Chinese eSports organization. It is owned by game developer FunPlus, which is based in Switzerland. This team is primarily well-known in competitive League of Legends, being the winners of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
The LOCK//IN tournament is meant to showcase all VCT partner teams competing across EMEA, the Americas and the Pacific. The tournament will be held from February 13 to March 4 before the regional competitions and the first eSports with a live audience organized by Riot.
LOCK//IN tournament format
As the tournament has over 30 participating teams, Riot uses a single-elimination format. The subsequent events will return to double elimination format once LOCK//IN concludes.
“After reviewing many options, it became clear that to be as globally inclusive as we wanted, a single elimination format was the direction we needed to take. While we think this is the best way to kick off the 2023 season, we plan to return to a double elimination format for future international events,” Anton Ferraro, a representative of Riot, said.
The teams will be assigned into one of two groups, Group Alpha and Group Omega, to compete for a spot in the grand final. According to Ferraro, Riot Games will implement a random draw process in the first round, which pairs teams with different teams from other regions into 16 match-ups. Each match-up will have two teams playing. In the first round, China will have one match against America and one against EMEA.
Once the LOCK//IN tournament ends, the VCT will be heading for Japan for its second international event of 2023. The next event, VCT Masters, is scheduled for June and will have the top ten teams from each region competing for a spot in the Champions tournament at the end of the season.
Valorant’s official return to China
VALORANT officially returned to China in early 2023 after being approved by the country’s National Press and Public Administration (NPPA) on December 27 under the name of Fearless Covenant.
China has one of the largest gaming markets, boasting many players from both amateur and professional levels. Players can play VALORANT through the Tencent game launcher, which is in Chinese and cannot be changed. A player will need a registered Chinese phone number and a QQ and WeChat account to register.
The account will require further identity verification using legal documents such as a passport.