We’re one day into Stage Two of the NA VALORANT Champions Tour and there are already some exciting developments.
The Challengers One Open Qualifier kicked off yesterday, allowing fans to see new lineups and agent comps in action. Among them was Braxton “brax” Pierce making his TSM debut after getting signed as a sixth man, 100 Thieves’ Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella swapping back to Omen, and new controller Astra getting playing time on numerous squads.
There may have initially been confusion as to what role brax would fill for TSM since the former CS:GO pro played Jett for T1. But it seems like he held down sentinel duty, allowing star Matthew “WARDELL” Yu to reprise his role as Jett Oper. In TSM’s two victories yesterday, brax played Killjoy and Cyper.
Absent from TSM’s lineup was James “hazed” Cobb, who sat out of the open qualifier. During his Twitch broadcast yesterday, the pro said he’ll be playing again “after this qualifier.”
100 Thieves signed former CS:GO pro Ethan Arnold to replace Quan “Dicey” Tran in February ahead of the VCT Challengers Three. While the pressure was high since the team won last year’s First Strike main event, they were eliminated from the Masters One lower bracket by Gen.G.
The team clearly wanted to make some changes going into the second leg of VCT, putting nitr0 back on Omen smoking duties where he was previously successful. Ethan told Dot Esports during Masters One that Omen is “the easiest agent to learn coming from Counter-Strike,” helping him transition into VALORANT easier. But now he’s moved on to Sage and 100 Thieves is seemingly sticking with a one-duelist comp, supporting Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk with two sentinels.
VALORANT’s newest agent, Astra, was picked several times during the VCT Game Changers Series by teams like Cloud9 White and OWA OWA. And now, the controller has made her debut in the Champions Tour.
The unique galaxy-brain controller was scooped up by various players, including TSM’s Stephen “reltuC” Cutler, 100 Thieves’ Joshua “steel” Nissan, Gen.G’s Anthony “gMd” Guimond, T1’s Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, and even Twitch star Ninja. Astra has a 25-percent pick rate in the open qualifier so far, according to VLR.gg, beating out agents like Sage, Breach, and Reyna. And her most popular map was Bind, picked 35 percent of the time, followed by Split at 28 percent.
It seems like the new controller may finally be eating into Omen’s pick rate, who’s been the top-picked agent over several months. While he still has a 71-percent pick rate, it’s far lower than the 90-plus he typically got. But there are still plenty of matches left in the VCT Challengers One and many teams are likely experimenting, so the percentages are liable to shift.
The open qualifier continues today with 32 teams remaining. The top eight squads will move on to the main event next weekend. Notable teams like TSM, Sentinels, 100 Thieves, T1, Envy, FaZe, Luminosity, Immortals, Gen.G, and XSET will compete later today.
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