Following the conclusion of the Masters Reykjavik, the VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 Open Qualifier marks the beginning of the year’s final stage. As the name suggests, the event had been open to all teams, allowing for undiscovered talent to rise. However, while beginning closely together, the first set of qualifiers for each region have varying number of participants and formats.
The NA VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 Open Qualifier will see 122 different teams compete in a single elimination bracket until the top 32. The following two matches going into the top 16 and top 8 will be Best of Three games. Only the top 8 teams advance to the main NA VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 event starting on the 8th of July. Teams who do not make top 8 this time will still have a second chance to compete in Stage 3, with a second open qualifier for the VCT Challengers Stage 3 Challengers opening later in July. Note, KAY/O has been disabled for the first Challengers 1 event, and will only be open for competitive play starting from the Challengers 2 open qualifiers.
Europe’s VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 qualifiers had a slightly different format compared to North America. The Challenger 1 qualifier comprised of only 16 teams, 8 of which were directly invited due to their previous performance, while the remaining 8 had to play from another open qualifier. This ensures top European teams who had already proven themselves do not have to play unnecessary matches. The top eight from this event would then qualify to the main EMEA VCT Stage 3 Challengers 1 starting on the 7th of July. Similarly, EU teams that do not qualify will have a chance to compete in a second qualifier for VCT Challengers Stage 3 Challengers opening later in July.
The format consisted of a double elimination bracket with Best of Three games, ensuring even if top teams are matched against one another, they still have a strong second chance. This had been the case for Fnatic and FunPlux Phoenix, who matched against G2 Esports and Guild Esports respectively, and were sent to the losers bracket but still made it into the top 8.
Korean teams unlike the other two regions will only have a single open qualifier, Challengers and Challenger Playoffs event due to the region’s small size. The KR VCT Stage 3 Challengers open qualifiers comprises of 32 of the regions’ top teams. The format is once again unique to the region, as teams are split into eight groups of four, with teams playing Best of Three games. The top two from each group will then advance to the main KR VCT Stage 3 Challengers event, with the top eight advancing to Playoffs and ultimately competing for one of two spots to Masters Berlin.