Today’s evening match in the North American VCT Last Chance Qualifier was a competition between a talented underdog squad in Shopify Rebellion, and the team once considered the best in North America, Cloud9. The match also marked the debut of the Shopify men’s VALORANT team, though these players previously competed together under Luminosity.
After a night of heart-pounding overtime rounds and close maps, C9 and Shopify didn’t disappoint and provided fans with another close match. Recording the first shutout in the LCQ, C9 beat Shopify 2-0, a scoreline that masked how close the series actually was.
While neither of these rosters have seemed particularly weak in 2022, they haven’t matched up to the likes of the other top teams in NA. C9, despite making it to international LAN events in the past, has been looking out of form since their roster changes earlier in the season.
For Shopify, fans hoped that a change in organization might breathe new life into the team that hasn’t been able to break through the ceiling to the top tier of VALORANT despite some close matches against some North American favorites.
C9 started Ascent in dominant fashion on their defense. Once Shopify got their footing, however, moose made the difference for the team with creative plays he made around his smokes. Sneaking by defenders and hitting shots, Shopify erased the deficit C9 had opened. The map was tied 6-6 at the half, making it anyone’s game.
After continuing to battle back and forth over a close 23 rounds, C9 took their map pick 13-10 to start off the series.
Fracture was a playground for Shopify’s Chamber player bdog, who ended the map with 40 kills to only 20 deaths. The teams battled early with contrasting compositions and broke each other’s economies, with bdog showing his star potential as he had throughout much of Challengers Stage Two.
Faced with bdog’s phenomenal performance, vanity and Xeppaa made the difference for C9 with several vital plays. The post-plant clutch potential of these two players can’t be overstated, and they took their attacking side with renewed energy. Vanity has been praised as one of the best in-game leaders in NA in the past, and he proved on Fracture that he still has what it takes to be the backbone for his team. After several rounds of overtime, C9 took the map 17-15. The veteran squad did well to show balance and team coordination, overcoming bdog’s onslaught.
The biggest takeaway from this match is that every team in NA is fighting tooth and nail for this last LCQ spot. Though both of these teams aren’t at the level of the top in the region, they have steadily shown improvement and kept up with each other today.
C9 will move on to face The Guard in the upper bracket tomorrow, while Shopify faces Sentinels in the lower bracket on Sunday.