After more than a week of intense competition, theStage 3 Masters tournament is reaching a crescendo. The single-elimination knockout bracket has already been full of surprises, including the Stage 2 winners Sentinels being unceremoniously dethroned in a 2-0 sweep by Team Envy in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals kept the surprises rolling, beginning with Gambit chaining a close win on Breeze into a sheer display of dominance on Icebox with the tournament's first 13-0 win. Gambit is now locked into the year-end Champions tournament, thanks in large part to Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin's psychological warfare, living in the enemy backlines as Viper and Cypher, making his opponents live in constant fear of what's lurking behind them.
Team Envy also carved a pretty clean path into the finals, winning the battle of North America on the strength of Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker's fearless Jett play. Whether denying lanes on the operator or winning pistol rounds almost single-handedly, yay was a force to be reckoned with for Envy, who won 13-5 and 13-8. This victory denies Gambit the opportunity for revenge against 100 Thieves, the team that beat them in the group stage, but Gambit has bigger ambitions.
Stage 3 Masters is a big deal for Valorant's esports scene: It's the second international Valorant Champions Tour tournament since the game debuted last year and a major checkpoint before the game crowns its first global champions at the end of 2021. The event is also the final chance for teams to avoid the gauntlet of the last-chance qualifiers tournament.
When are the finals?
Pregame coverage of the Stage 3 Masters final will start at 8 a.m. PT (11 a.m. ET) on Sunday, with the actual match starting at approximately 9 a.m. PT (12 p.m. ET). Note that the final match is played with a best-of-five format, rather than the best-of-three format used for the rest of the tournament.
How to stream the Stage 3 Masters Finals
You'll have two options for tuning into the finals:
If you'd prefer to watch in a language other than English, you can find a larger list of streams on the Valorant site.
What's at stake in the tournament?
The winner of the tournament gets an automatic spot in the Champions tournament at the end of the year, but there are ripple effects beyond that. Gambit has already qualified for Champions by earning the most circuit points in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. If Gambit wins the finals, they will gift Fnatic the second EMEA spot in the tournament.
The stakes are similar on the North American side. Team Envy was already ahead of 100 Thieves in the standings, so their win in the semifinals guarantees the team a Champions appearance, even if they lose in the finals. However, 100 Thieves can still earn a guaranteed spot if Team Envy beats Gambit in the finals. Otherwise, 100 Thieves will have to run the gauntlet in the Last Chance Qualifiers tournament to earn their place in Champions.
Here's what scenarios look like based on outcome:
- Gambit wins: Gambit and Envy earn spots in Champions. Fnatic also sneaks into a Champions spot, thanks to Gambit's automatic qualification. 100 Thieves is forced into LCQ.
- Envy wins: Envy and 100 Thieves earn spots in Champions. Gambit remains qualified for Champions.
What is the Valorant Champions Tour?
The VCT, as it's commonly known, is Valorant's official professional tournament circuit, which kicked off with Stage 1 in January this year. The third and final stage wraps up this month. Each stage is divided into two substages: Challengers and Masters.
In the Challengers substage, teams compete to qualify for the Masters tournament. Teams that don't qualify for Masters can still earn smaller numbers of circuit points, which are used to determine regional standings. Masters tournaments dole out large numbers of circuit points and, in the case of Stage 3 Masters, immediate eligibility for the year-end tournament.
The VCT culminates in 16 teams competing at the Valorant Champions tournament at the end of the year. Most teams (11) will qualify based on earning the most circuit points in their region, which they do by winning Challengers and Masters matches. At this point, most teams have qualified, but four more teams will earn a spot through last-chance qualifiers tournaments at the end of the year, and one team will qualify by winning the Stage 3 Masters finals.
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