Sentinels went through the recent VALORANT Champions Tour Masters One event undefeated. The team crushed FaZe Clan in the grand finals on March 21, winning 3-0 despite not getting a one-map advantage for making it there through the winners bracket.
The team was forced to pick up TenZ just before the event after Sinatraa was suspended. This impacted the team's preparation and strategy, but Sentinels still made it through the upper bracket undefeated. And yet the team received no upper bracket advantage and could have been eliminated if FaZe beat them in one series in the grand finals, causing several VALORANT players to question whether this should be the case.
In other games, teams receive a one-map advantage in the grand finals if they make it there through the winners bracket. Not receiving any reward for this type of performance could potentially cause an undefeated team to lose even though they only dropped one series.
Previous VALORANT tournaments, including the Challengers events where teams qualified for Masters One, used a map advantage system. But the fact that this wasn't the case at the most significant VALORANT tournament so far received a mixed reception from pros and fans alike.
Masters One champion Shahzeb “ShahZaM” khan expressed his disappointment about not getting an advantage for making it through the upper bracket before his team’s final match against FaZe. The lack of an advantage was unfair, according to the in-game leader, but Sentinels still defeated FaZe without dropping a map.
“If there is a double-elimination bracket and every team gets to lose twice, there has to be some sort of advantage, whether its a bracket reset or a map advantage. It should be significant,” ShahZaM told Dot Esports in a press conference. “If you lose a whole series during the tournament and you climb back up through the lower bracket final, the upper bracket winners that have not lost should have a map advantage, in my opinion.”
Sentinels player Jared “zombs” Gitlin was fine with not having a map advantage, but he did believe there should've been one in the Masters One tournament since the previous qualifier events gave an advantage.
Some players aren't a fan of map advantages but believe teams deserve some sort of award for making it through the upper bracket. FaZe player Zachary “ZahcaREEE” Lombardo discussed alternatives to a map advantage, like map bans, but explained it's tough for VALORANT.
“The map advantage doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal, but it kind of is just a big deal," ZahcaREEE said. "I can't think of something that would really help for the upper bracket. Obviously, for pick bans, they have stuff, but in VALORANT, there are only five maps right now, so if you’re playing VALORANT best-of-five, there is no ban, so you cant give them a nice pick ban advantage because there are not enough maps for that.”
ZachaREEE also mentioned previously playing three best-of-five series in Overwatch before switching to VALORANT but said it wasn't a pleasant experience for players and challenging for viewers to sit through.
ShahZaM and ZachaREEE both mentioned another idea, though: the possibility of a bracket reset in the grand finals. This would force the teams to play another series if the squad that made it through the losers bracket won the first series, preventing the upper bracket team from immediately being eliminated.
But this means players would have to play two best-of-five series in one day, which can be exhausting and stressful. This would also lead to a considerably long broadcast and it's unclear if viewers would dedicate an entire day to a tournament.
FaZe player Corey Nigra, on the other hand, mentioned a solution he saw that adds an interesting change to the map advantage system.
“I saw someone on Twitter say there should be a map advantage, but the catch to it is if the team has never played that team before while going through the upper bracket, then they shouldn’t have a map advantage,” Corey said. “But if you did beat that team, for example, Sentinels beat us before, then they should have had a map advantage because they beat us coming through the upper bracket. I thought that was pretty interesting.”
This concept would justify a map advantage in some cases, but some players would likely still want an advantage for remaining undefeated.
Most players agree that the upper bracket team in a tournament deserves some form of advantage in the grand finals due to their performance. It's unclear if this should be a map advantage, a bracket reset, or the option of banning a map. But a map ban isn't viable in VALORANT right now since there are only five maps in the game.
VALORANT is still a relatively young game and the structure of tournaments and events is still developing. It's clear that teams should get some type of advantage for their flawless performance in a tournament, but the specific reward will likely be contested regardless of what it is.
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