After an impressive showing from North America at VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Masters Two Reykjavík, the region on the rise will have more representation in the next Masters event in Berlin, with three slots instead of two. The first open qualifier showed just how deep the region has become, with a handful of “top” teams getting upset, and others surviving close calls.
The NA Challengers main events of Stage Three have been just as exciting, with more upsets, insane performances and highlights from the stars, and even an iconic blooper. While the bracket continues and the remaining teams fight for seeding and prize money, eight teams have already secured their spot at the Challengers Playoffs in August, where they will fight for three spots in Berlin.
100T retain their place at the big kids’ table of North American VALORANT for now. Aside from the teams that went to Reykjavik, 100T had the highest expectations of any other team in the region.
Outside of the first VCT qualifier they played without new dad nitr0, 100T have yet to fall in an open qualifier. After a couple of last-second stumbles during Stage One, they appeared locked in during Stage Two following a first-place finish at Challengers One. But on their path to Iceland, they were frozen in place at the NA Challengers Finals, dropping out after back-to-back losses against Sentinels and Envy on the same day.
Like the rest of the absolute top North American teams, 100 Thieves kept their starting roster intact. Given their stature and earlier results, this meant they would be under the most scrutiny had they failed. They survived potential open qualifier upsets against both SoaR and Noble, then put on their best performances in the main event with two 2-0 upper bracket wins over Version1 and Envy. Asuna set a VCT record for most kills in a map when he dropped 48 on V1 in their overtime thriller on Icebox. Their spot is secured, but the job isn’t done yet for 100 Thieves just yet.
A familiar face in the first two stages of Challengers events, XSET had no trouble making it through qualifiers during VCT, but were consistently denied that landmark win.
Throughout Stage One and Stage Two, XSET successfully made it through every open qualifier they played in, and at the Challengers main events, they would do just enough to qualify for the next event until they got to the final North American event for each stage. They were the first ones bounced from Masters One, following two 2-0 losses to FaZe and Gen.G, and were knocked out first again after losing to NRG and Envy, but at least took a map off Envy.
But while it’s only the first Challengers main event of Stage Three, XSET have notched arguably their biggest win yet, defeating reigning Masters champions Sentinels in three maps just weeks after bringing in dephh and just days after signing the young zekken. XSET finally gets their first win over Sentinels after going 0-2 in two previous tries, and hand Sentinels their first loss since late April. XSET has arrived, and now their next step is the elusive deep run at the end of the stage.
All that for a drop of blood? The loss to XSET came as a surprise to Sentinels supporters, especially considering one of the map losses came on Haven. But the loss served as just a detour instead of a complete derailment.
Sentinels have been on an absolute tear after adding TenZ at the last minute before Masters One. In the 28 series they’ve played, they’ve only lost three: to Built By Gamers, Andbox, and now XSET. They’ve also won both the NA-only Masters One and as the first international VALORANT LAN in Masters Two, and only dropped one map across both of those in the very first series versus Luminosity.
To celebrate their win in Reykjavík, they completed the seven-figure buyout for TenZ from Cloud9 to permanently add him to the team. After the loss to XSET, they faced an underdog squad in the qualifier surprise Kansas City Pioneers. Sentinels reasserted their dominance on Haven, and then wiped out the Pioneers on their own pick of Bind to secure their Challengers Playoffs spot. TenZ had 47 kills over the two maps.
Team Envy reached their goal of qualifying for the Challengers Playoffs, in spite of unexpected circumstances. To move up, the team had to recover after a disastrous (but kind of hilarious) loss to 100 Thieves.
Like the other qualified teams, Envy have been a consistent presence and threat during the first two stages of NA VCT Challengers events. But like 100T and XSET, they’ve come up just short at the biggest tournaments, although they’ve gotten considerably closer with fourth-place finishes at both Masters One and the NA Challengers Finals. Looking to inject some new energy into their roster before Stage Three, they signed Marved on loan from FaZe Clan and moved kaboose to the bench. Their open qualifier run went well, capped off with an impressive comeback versus T1. Envy got the luck of the draw by getting to play Kansas City Pioneers in the first round, which they won easily. Their lucky streak ended after an unfortunate situation agains 100T, which pretty much set the tone for the whole series.
Marved gets the half defuse and leaves after he seemingly through Victor would finish the action. It was the end of the first half of the map, so letting go of the spike wasn’t for the purposes of grabbing weapons or getting ultimate points. The blunder gave 100T a 7-5 lead at half-time. 100T would win the map 13-9 and the series 2-0, and thankfully for the Envy players, they recovered with a 2-0 win over Gen.G to secure their Playoffs spot. That mistake would look so much worse in hindsight had they not qualified.
Luminosity Gaming was a familiar face throughout all of NA VCT Stage One, riding the momentum of trials turned full-time roster members YaBoiDre and moose. They qualified for all three Challengers main events, finished third in two of them, and earned 20 VCT points at Masters One. But, like for many teams, that momentum didn’t carry into Stage Two, with two straight 0-2 qualifier losses to Noble and NRG.
Between Stage Two and Three, they moved thief and stellar to the bench, signing dazzLe and ban in their place while also adding TiGG as a stand-in with moose sporting a broken wrist. After a tough start in Stage Three Challengers One, losing in another qualifier, LG turned it on for Challengers Two, reaching the main with three straight 2-0’s capped off with a win over Cloud9 Blue. At Challengers Two, they came back against a dangerous Kansas City Pioneers in the opening round, then obliterated Rise in the next round to secure their spot in Challengers Playoffs.
What a journey TSM has taken to get to its first regional final throughout the entire first year of the VALORANT Champions Tour. Considered one of the top teams in NA at the end of 2020 after a grand finals appearance at First Strike, TSM’s VCT run has been less than stellar, with the team forced to make moves after two straight fruitless stages. TSM moved on from cutler, made a coaching change by bringing in CS:GO veteran coach Chet, and signed the young bang before Stage Three.
After a disappointing start to Stage Three following a loss to Noble, TSM made another change: benching drone in favor of LeviathanAG, one of the players from the then-available Noble roster. The Sova/Viper utility and individual firepower LeviathanAG brought was a huge boost TSM needed in their Challengers Two open qualifier run. TSM trailed after map one of the series against Gen.G in the first round of the main event, but tied it up after ten overtimes on Split, eventually claiming the series on Icebox. In another tense three-map affair, TSM pushed past T1 thanks to another great Wardell performance.
A party platter of leftovers from organizations like Immortals, NRG, Dignitas, and others, the Rise roster is loaded with cracked talent. Despite the amount of talent available, Rise failed to break into the upper echelon during the first two stages of VCT, with teams like Sentinels, Version1, and TSM getting the upper hand on them.
But Stage Three represented the breakthrough the team needed. Fresh off of signing supamen, a former Crossfire pro who previously played VALORANT for Dignitas, Rise rose above Cloud9 in the final round of the Challengers One open qualifier. Two losses to XSET and Gen.G forced Rise to take a detour to Challengers Two, where things got dicey. They knocked off FaZe Clan 2-0 in a series that featured a 13-2 rout on Split, but then got stomped by Luminosity, who pulled off their own 13-2 win on Icebox. But in the lower bracket match against Gen.G, with a chance at revenge and a Playoffs spot on the line, they won 13-2 again on Ascent, then withstood a Gen.G comeback on Bind to secure the win in the final round of regulation.
As the first stage of VCT wound down, FaZe Clan rose up as one of the most exciting and dangerous teams in North America. Through Challengers One and Masters One, the only team that could handle FaZe was the eventual Masters Two champions Sentinels. But while Sentinels’ high level of play continued into Stage Two, FaZe’s fell off, losing in both Challengers open qualifiers to Version1 and T1.
Heading into Stage Three, FaZe’s VALORANT roster went through a slight change with Marved joining Team Envy. In his placed stepped BabyJ, but another open qualifier exit spoiled that debut after a loss to recently signed DarkZero. FaZe was one of a few teams to reach the main event of Challengers Two via a flawless open qualifier, however.
The situation got dicey for FaZe at Challengers Two with an opening upset to Rise, but rallied with a 2-0 win over the dangerous Kansas City Pioneers. In the final qualifying series of a long day of VALORANT, with one more spot on the line, FaZe jumped out to a 9-3 lead at half-time against T1 after opening Split on their defensive side. They held off a T1 comeback then closed things out on Ascent to fill the final NA Challengers Playoffs spot.
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