While Sentinels, Envy, and Cloud9 Blue went to Berlin to represent North America at VCT Champions, the rest of NA could only sit back and watch the first VALORANT world championship unfold—or so we thought. Many of the teams that didn’t book flights to Berlin ended up having quite an active offseason.
During this period, a handful of teams representing some of the biggest organizations in esports decided to make drastic changes heading into the 2022 VCT season. Before that season starts with open qualifiers, we’re handing out grades to the NA teams that made some of the biggest roster overhauls this offseason.
Dropped: Autimatic, Skadoodle, Spyder
Added: Steel, thwifo, seven, pwny
Why choose between youth and experience when you can have both? Clearly, T1’s eyes are toward the future when you see that three of its five players are literal teenagers. But the kids now have an experienced in-game leader in steel to steer them in the right direction. We’ve seen what steel can do with young talent from his time shot-calling for Asuna on 100T. While it will certainly be a challenge to lead four young guns, there’s a high ceiling for this group. And he’s got to be smiling after T1 snagged Johann “seven” Hernandez away from the 100T bench.
With the amount of youth on this team, there’s a chance the squad misses out on Challengers main events by way of a lack of experience. But even in that worst case scenario, T1 has a lot of young assets learning from an accomplished veteran and leader. Additionally, the organization made the right moves in getting rid of the players it did. Skadoodle doesn’t have the magic he once did in CS:GO and autimatic still had his eyes on his former game. Even if the roster doesn’t click right away, it was the right long-term moves.
100 Thieves: C-
Dropped: nitr0, steel
Added: BabyJ, ec1s
A great, all-around 2021 campaign for 100T fizzled out at the end. The team failed to capitalize on their deep run at Masters Berlin and were bounced by Cloud9 Blue in the NA LCQ lower finals. Two new faces now join the trio of Hiko, Ethan, and Asuna in Hunter “BabyJ” Schline and Adam “ec1s” Eccles. BabyJ is a more than capable fragger at the sentinel role who will likely thrive in the 100T structure. Ec1s will take on the IGL role, coming off a resurgence with NiP that followed a rather dismal run with Liquid.
The departures sting, though. Nitr0 was an elite controller player who really could have taken an extra step forward had he gotten more acclimated with Astra—and we’ve seen how even a roster as decorated as 100T’s struggled without steel’s in-game leadership. To be clear, the new 100T roster is not a C- group and the pickups are by no means bad. But 100T gets a below average offseason grade primarily based on what it lost. 100T aren’t going to fall off a cliff, but they’re facing a more uphill journey.
Dropped: hazed, bang
Added: Corey, Rossy
TSM needed to make changes after a lackluster 2021 season where they didn’t even reach the LCQ. Corey Nigra is a fine addition providing flex support in the duelist role while Wardell plays his usual Jett—and the former FaZe player will be used to this role after his time playing with babybay. Daniel “Rossy” Abedrabbo is a bit of an unproven commodity at the highest level as an in-game leader, but he’s one of the better available options at the position.
We have a mixed reaction to TSM’s departures this offseason. On one hand, it was the right call to part ways with hazed, whose production and performance were slowing down considerably toward the end of the 2021. But the decision to bench bang is a head-scratcher. The young gun has one of the most diverse agent pools in the whole region and he’s been more than solid across his various stand-in stints during this offseason period. It might have just come down to him not having a set role yet that fits in with TSM’s desired comp, but it seems like a waste to not use him at all.
FaZe Clan: B+
Dropped: BabyJ, corey, ZachaREEE, Rawkus
Added: dicey, ShoT_UP, LarryBanks, flyuh
(Note: FaZe’s official roster has yet to be announced. This roster is based on recent reports from George Geddes.)
FaZe made the most drastic roster moves of any other team on this list, effectively eliminating anyone not named babybay from its starting roster. BabyJ has gone to 100T, corey went to TSM, Rawkus is coaching Sentinels, and ZachaREEE was moved to the bench. A change was certainly needed after last year, though. Following a red-hot breakout performance at the end of Stage One, FaZe struggled as a whole for the remainder of the year.
The additions of Quan “dicey” Tran and Andrew “ShoT_UP” Orlowski are excellent. It made sense for 100T to go with an experienced player like nitr0 instead of dicey given the team’s goals at the time, but it’s almost a travesty that dicey was forced to sit on the bench. His recent play with The Guard shows he’s been taking on agents other than Jett too, which is ideal if he’s playing next to babybay. ShoT_UP brings consistency and a large agent pool to FaZe as well. Chris “LarryBanks” Doyi and Xavier “flyuh” Carlson don’t have a ton of top-tier experience, but their veteran teammates should take the load off them.