Power rankings for NA VCT Stage 3: Challengers 2 main event

Eight teams will go head-to-head, playing for a Challengers playoffs berth.

Image via Riot Games

The VALORANT esports scene is heating up with the road to Berlin quickly approaching—and every match counts.

North America’s VCT Stage Three: Challengers Two main event kicks off later this week, with eight teams competing for a chance to move on to the playoffs. The top four squads from this event will move on to the Challengers Playoffs, getting a shot at qualifying for Masters Berlin. While several teams made major roster moves, other squads are trying to piggyback on their recent success for a timely hot streak.

Image via Riot Games

Dot Esports staff ranked the eight teams going into the NA VCT Stage Three: Challengers Two main event. Here are our power rankings.

  1. Version1
  2. Gen.G
  3. FaZe Clan
  4. T1
  5. TSM
  6. Luminosity
  7. Rise
  8. Pioneers

Time to adapt and execute: Version1, Gen.G

Photo via Riot Games

Whether it was their stellar play at Masters Two Reykjavík or Anthony “vanity” Malaspina’s fashionable cat ears, Version1 left quite the impression on the VALORANT community. And now they’re taking that competitive experience into the Challengers Two main event.

V1 obviously have great mechanics, post-plant strategies, and experience in some of VALORANT biggest events. But one of their biggest strengths is the ability to adapt. With Maxim “wippie” Shepelev forced to sit out of Masters Reykjavík due to visa issues, the squad picked up free agent Jamal “jammyz” Bangash and still made an impressive run that included taking out European juggernauts Team Liquid. The team’s woes continued after Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro was suspended from Stage Three: Challengers One for making an inappropriate remark toward a tournament official. But they were still able to qualify for the Challengers One main event with the help of former active Luminosity player Brady “thief” Dever.

Now the squad will finally have their full starting lineup to take on a hot T1 team in the first round of the main event. With no roster issues holding them back, V1 can easily make their way through the bracket and qualify for Challengers playoffs.

Gen.G similarly boast a lot of competitive experience, having participated in several big tournaments throughout their tenure. But the squad has struggled finishing strong, often relegated to climbing the lower bracket. With the addition of sentinel-main Nicholas “NaturE” Garrison, however, Gen.G are looking better than ever.

Not only did Gen.G win four in a row to qualify for the Challengers One main event, but they took a map from arguably the best team in the world in Sentinels. With a lot of the scene’s best teams already waiting in the Challengers playoffs, Gen.G can easily avoid the lower bracket and push through to the next stage of the competition.

Same teams, new faces: FaZe, T1, TSM, Luminosity

Image via FaZe Clan

FaZe, T1, TSM, and Luminosity are all well-respected organizations within the VALORANT scene that have struggled to varying degrees—and each of them have made pivotal roster moves.

A long time has passed since FaZe’s Andrej “BABYBAY” Francisty popularized “Smeag-style” during March’s Masters One. Though they eventually fell to Sentinels in the grand final, the squad’s impressive play put them on the map. Since then, FaZe have failed to advance to the Stage Two: Challengers Two and Stage Three: Challengers One main events. The team’s trajectory is finally looking up, however, with Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen’s replacement, Hunter “BabyJ” Schline, playing a pivotal role in locking down sites and initiating fights. With more time together, FaZe have the competitive experience and attitude to make a comeback.

Few teams have had more roster moves than T1, with the organization trying hard to create a winning lineup. And they may have finally done it.

Image via T1

The organization brought back brax and promoted Anthony “dawn” Hagopian from the academy roster, parting ways with long-time IGL DaZeD in the process. And with the new roster, the team has won eight of their last nine matches. While they have yet to take out one of the scene’s elite teams with this lineup, this tournament will be telling on how well the squad meshes together.

TSM has gone a long way from being considered one of North America’s best teams. But after experimenting with a six-man roster, the team seems to have settled on a five-some that boasts experience, talent, and young fraggers. And judging how well that formula worked for 100 Thieves, who won last year’s First Strike with their new roster, it can easily pay off for TSM.

The squad also seems more open to trying new things. Star fragger WARDELL, for example, added Sage to his arsenal and has been performing well with the healer. While this iteration of the roster hasn’t taken on any elite teams yet, they’re trending in the right direction.

The same goes for Luminosity, who have enjoyed recent success with a new roster but haven’t encountered a top-tier squad yet. The team picked up Will “dazzLe” Loafman and Joseph “ban” Seungmin Oh and are temporarily using Tanner “TiGG” Spanu while Kaleb “moose” Jayne recovers from a broken wrist. Though they won eight of their last nine matches, their one loss is to Version1. If they can quickly get over any obstacles that come with sporting a new lineup, Luminosity can easily upset any team in NA.

Underdogs: Rise, Pioneers

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Image via Pioneers

Rise and Pioneers wouldn’t be the first underdog teams to face adversity and come out on top. Teams like Envy and Version1, for example, were once doubted before cementing themselves as North American forces. These two teams are in the ideal position, facing little pressure to perform and little to lose.

Rise doesn’t lack firepower. The squad’s made up of players who have either trialed with or played on pro teams, but have struggled to find a home. With brothers Kevin “poised” Ngo and Ryan “Shanks” Ngo boasting extreme talent, this team can easily go toe-to-toe with the best in the game. The team simply hasn’t proven it can be consistent and pull through in high-pressure situations to close out a match. But the Challengers Two main event is their chance.

As for Pioneers, the organization acquired an FPL-C roster that boasts talent. Jason “jmoh” Mohandessi and Chad “Oderus” Miller, for example, each played for big organizations in Immortals and Dignitas, respectively. While they might be underrated going into the main event, they can easily use that against their opponents. But they have a long road ahead of them if they aspire to qualify for Masters Berlin and the championship later this year.

The NA VCT Stage Three: Challengers Two main event begins Thursday, July 29, at 2pm CT.

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