AFTER TEAM SECRET’s valiant top eight effort at last year’s VALORANT Champions, the hype was building around the Philippine VALORANT esports scene that at least one of the country’s representatives could yet again make another deep run in the Asia-Pacific region to eventually go toe-to-toe with the biggest teams at an international LAN event.
This year, six teams spread across the two stages of the VALORANT Champions Tour: APAC Challengers have waved the Philippine flag mighty high. South Built Esports, NAOS Esports, and Action PH were the Philippine contingents during Stage 1 Challengers. Then it was Team Secret, Rex Regum Qeon Esports, and Oasis Gaming in Stage 2.
Seven months into VCT 2022 — and after the two stages of APAC Challengers — none of the six Philippine representatives have qualified for either editions of VALORANT Masters.
Additionally, the only PH team that has a chance to make Champions — one of last year’s APAC representatives, Team Secret — gained enough circuit points to play in the Last Chance Qualifiers in August.
With the VCT season all but over for the Filipino teams, the question is: was this year a success or have other countries in the APAC region overshadowed the local scene? Let's take a look at how the six teams fared in the regional qualifiers.
New boys on the VCT block
After a surprising VCT PH Stage 1 Challengers which saw local powerhouse Team Secret bow out early in the playoffs, three new teams stepped up to the plate to represent the country in the APAC qualifiers.
The Philippines’ first seed in Stage 1 was South Built Esports. They were grouped up with Thailand’s FULL SENSE, India’s Velocity Gaming, and Hong Kong’s Oblivion Force.
After losing its first game to FS, SBE were able to bounce back and win their next two games, ultimately qualifying for the knockout stage.
However, SBE’s time in the playoffs was short-lived as they were handed a 2-0 series sweep by Paper Rex in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals and then coming up short versus BOOM Esports in the Lower Brackets, 2-1.
Next, the last two seeds of the country were NAOS Esports and Action PH. Coincidentally, both teams experienced similar fates in the APAC qualifiers. The former bowed out of the group stages after two consecutive 2-1 series defeats to Malaysia/Singapore representatives BLEED Esports and Indonesia’s Onic Esports.
The latter failed to make it into the group stages after a 1-2 play-in record, winning against Vietnamese squad Team Big BAAM in their opening match but unfortunately losing their last two matches — first against Onic Esports in the winner’s match, and then again to FULL SENSE in the decider match of the play-ins.
A lot of things have happened to these three teams after Stage 1. SBE narrowly missed another chance to represent the country, finishing fourth in PH Stage 2 Challengers. Meanwhile, NAOS Esports struggled to find their form again in the local scene as they were only able to win one out of the seven series’ they played during the local qualifiers.
Lastly, after finishing 7th in the PH Stage 2 qualifiers with a 3-4 record, Action PH ultimately decided to part ways with their whole VALORANT team.
Sleeping giants woken up
The recently concluded VALORANT APAC Stage 2 Challengers saw two new teams and one familiar face test their wares against their regional rivals.
Despite qualifying in the regionals as Philippine’s second seed, Oasis Gaming were the first local team to crash out of the tournament. Two-nil series sweeps at the hands of Australia's ORDER Esports and then Indonesia’s BOOM Esports saw Oasis finish the group stage winless.
Relatively new in the local VALORANT scene, Rex Regum Qeon showed up at the PH qualifiers and bagged a slot in APAC Stage 2 Challengers as the country’s third seed. After losing to regional powerhouse Xerxia Esports in their opening match of the tournament, RRQ were able to bounce back with a close 2-1 series win versus India’s Global Esports.
In the deciding series on who makes it into the playoffs, RRQ fell to Indonesia’s Alter Ego Esports, losing their best-of-three matchup, 2-1.
Last but not least were the Philippines Stage 2 Challengers champions, Team Secret.
Despite losing to BLEED Esports in their first group stage match, TS were able to bounce back and churn out four straight victories — two in the group stages and then in the quarter and semi-finals of the Upper Bracket against Xerxia and Onic Esports respectively.
Unfortunately, the mighty Filipino team were not able to secure a slot in Masters: Copenhagen after a demoralizing defeat versus APAC’s undisputed champions Paper Rex in the Upper Bracket finals, and then a heartbreaking best-of-three series loss to Xerxia in the Lower Bracket finals.
So what’s next?
Now that the dust has settled, with Paper Rex and Xerxia set to represent the APAC region in Copenhagen, the VCT season for the local region is all but over. However, after gaining 75 circuit points in the recently concluded Stage 2 Challengers, Team Secret has the opportunity to qualify yet again for VALORANT Champions... but this time through the Last Chance Qualifiers.
So, can they once again become “Philippines’ last hope”? Only time will tell.
The APAC LCQ is set to be played on August 1 to 7, and Team Secret will be up against tough regional rivals such as BLEED, Onic, BOOM Esports, and more. Both the Team Secret and Filipino faithful must stand behind the six-man roster in hopes of another chance of going up against the best VALORANT teams the five regions have to offer. Juris Salvanera