Top VALORANT Players to Watch in 2023
The year 2023 is expected to be a significant one for VALORANT and its growing esports scene. VALORANT esports will transition to a partnership model in which three international leagues will dominate the VCT (VALORANT Champions Tour). With 10 teams in each league – Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and Pacific – there will be ample opportunity for competition and growth.
As the spotlight shines on the top-tier leagues and their partnerships, teams have been granted the freedom to choose from a deep pool of talented players. Although there is a wealth of talent across various regions, several exceptional players stand out from the rest.
Arguably the best player in the world, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker has made a name for himself with his consistent performance and deadly skills on Chamber. Previously with OpTic, yay has joined Cloud9 and has proven himself as a top playmaker. In 2022, he finished in the top five for average combat score (ACS) at both Masters events and Champions, showcasing his dominance. Despite upcoming nerfs to Chamber, yay remains a force to be reckoned with and is unlikely to surrender his throne anytime soon.
After a challenging start to the 2022 season, 100 Thieves built a strong roster that achieved notable success. However, the addition of Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban as their duelist added another level of skill to the team. Cryocells elevated himself to an elite group of Chamber/duelist players with outstanding performances at Masters Copenhagen and Champions while playing with XSET. Fans eagerly anticipate his growth and development in 2023.
Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev’s absence from Fnatic at Masters Reykjavík demonstrated his value to the team’s success. His exceptional numbers on Chamber/Jett at both Copenhagen and Champions prove his reliability in dealing damage and securing opening kills. With a re-tooled Fnatic team for next year, Derke is expected to thrive and continue making a significant impact.
Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom stands out as an anomaly among prolific duelists and entry players who primarily choose Jett or Chamber. Producing incredible stats and highlights at an elite level with Raze, ScreaM revitalized the role of a Phoenix pro player. With extensive experience in CS:GO, ScreaM remains the headshot machine and will showcase their skills with Karmine Corp in a new team.
Byung-chul “BuZz” Yu, the electric star duelist from DRX in the Pacific region, made a breakthrough towards the end of the 2022 season. Leading DRX during playoffs, BuZz tied with Leviatán’s Francisco “kiNgg” Aravena for the most opening kills per round. With continued success predicted in 2023, BuZz is a player to watch.
Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan is the ultimate back line defender for DRX. While BuZz excels in securing opening kills, MaKo plays a crucial role in protecting the team as a controller. Some of MaKo’s best performances this year came in high-pressure situations during the lower bracket of Champions playoffs. Many consider him one of the world’s most valuable players in his position.
Don’t miss the chance to watch these incredible players and more at the VCT 2023 Kickoff tournament, taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil in February. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!