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Fabio | 2. December 2020

The Best Teams of First Strike North America

The North American First Strike event has gathered quite a few impressive teams and promises to deliver exciting matches. But which rosters actually have a shot at mounting a deep run at the first big VALORANT event?

The tournament is bursting at the seams with top teams and famous organizations, who have put up incredible VALORANT rosters. In a Single Elimination bracket, these eight teams will be pit against each other, until there’s only two of them left. The eventual tournament winner will be decided in a lengthy Best-of-Five. But not every famous and beloved team has made its way to this stage. During the two qualifications events, the NSG and UMG tournaments, we have had to wave a few squads goodbye. Teams like NRG, Complexity Gaming, Dignitas, Gen.G, and Luminosity Gaming have all missed out on a ticket to the First Strike event. But one team should be more disappointed than anyone.

WHERE ARE CLOUD9?

The arguably biggest upset of the entire process was the exit of Cloud9 blue. Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and his men are amongst the greatest of their region and naturally, they were one of the teams who were firmly expected to make this tournament. But the team had very little luck with their opponents. Cloud9 Blue may have reached the Quarter Finals of the NSG playoffs after placing first in their group, but they then lost two close maps to Renegades. On Split, they even dragged themselves through four overtimes! In the UMG Tournament, they had to compete against T1 for the Quarter Finals and quickly exited after two 8-13 map losses.

So at least they didn’t completely drop the ball, but still this missed opportunity has got to sting. The other teams will now get the chance to win the first big VALORANT event of their region, while Cloud9 Blue already have to go home empty-handed. But which teams actually stand a chance to win this event?

SO FAR, TSM & SENTINELS HAVE BEEN THE MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS

During the entire IGNITION Series run, Team SoloMid and Sentinels have traded victories. At the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, TSM and T1 made the Grand Finals, the former securing a clean 3-0 finish. During the PAX Arena Invitational, it was Sentinels who beat TSM in the Semis and later secured a 3-1 Grand Finals victory.

However, the TSM boys soon took revenge. An incredibly close 14-12 on the last map sealed the deal at the FaZe Clan Invitational, where they won 3-2 in maps over Sentinels. However, to conclude the IGNITION Series, Sentinels then went on to secure a 3-0 win over Team Envy during Pop Flash, where TSM hadn’t even made it past the Group Stage following two upset losses to Dignitas. These two teams have won every trophy handed out by RIOT so far. They jointly hold first place as the most successful VALORANT teams of North America. But what is the current state of TSM and Sentinels?

The two First Strike Qualifier winners were Team Envy and TSM. Sentinels seem to have lost a bit of their edge. Despite qualifying on the first attempt, they didn’t make it past the Semi Finals. Things went even worse for TSM, who already exited in the Quarter Finals. In both cases, 100 Thieves were the ones who had eliminated them.

100 THIEVES: THE NEW SUPERTEAM?

This team is now increasingly brought into the spotlight. Unlike TSM, Cloud9 and the rest, they are pretty new to this VALORANT business. After the first 100T lineup had failed, they retained Spencer “Hiko” Martin and formed a completely new roster around him. This now includes the Counter-Strike veterans Joshua “steel” Nissan and Nick “nitr0” Canella. Even though this constellation has only existed since early October, they already made the Grand Finals of the NSG First Strike Qualifier. Winning over TSM and Sentinels, they have proven to be competitive even against the best teams.

There is virtually no material out there to analyze and counter them with. The other teams, who have been active for much longer already, provide a much larger target. This is obviously a great bonus, but the 100 Thieves seem to be top tier regardless. At this tournament, they get the chance to prove themselves. On their way to the Grand Finals, they will have to face T1 in their Opening Match already. If they manage to survive this early test, they will potentially meet either Sentinels or FaZe next.

TSM have the NSG Tournament winners on their side of the bracket. Team Envy have a shot at making it past Immortals. Next up, they will be waiting for a real challenge in the Semis. Team SoloMid will face quite a difficult foe in the form of Renegades, the only team to take a map off of Envy in the NSG playoffs.

So the formerly best teams of NA don’t stand a huge chance. Even if they manage to play on their old level, the rest of the playing field has obviously caught up quite a bit. A new contender has stepped onto the scene in the form of 100 Thieves. This team has the potential – and an opportunity here at First Strike – to take control of the VALORANT professional landscape. Will they be able to do that at this upcoming event?