The winners of Masters NA have surprisingly bailed out in the Open Qualifier already. This means that 100 Thieves, Envy, and the rest can play without their biggest and most dangerous opponents breathing down their necks. So who can actually secure the top spot this time around?
Aside from just Sentinels missing this event, the playing field has undergone severe changes. FaZe Clan, who had previously lost to Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and his men in the Masters Grand Finals, have also failed to survive the Qualifier. In their place, Version1 have made it through, being led by none other than Anthony “vanity” Malaspina. Last year, he turned heads as the shotcaller for Chaos, who made waves in the North American CS:GO scene.
But when the organization announced its retirement from the competitive scene, the young player was drawn into the VALORANT space. Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro was also a long-time Counter-Strike player. For the two of them, Challengers 1 will be their first major VALORANT event. However, they will have to face some of the biggest teams early on already. Team Envy may not sweep trophies as much as others, but Pujan “FNS” Mehta and his men are always high at the top.
SECOND CHANCES IN THE DOUBLE ELIMINATION BRACKET
At least Version1 will not have to pack their things if they lose immediately. The Lower Bracket still gives them a shot at a comeback. But even there it won’t be easy for them, as the other Opening Matches are also packed to the brim with strong and established lineups.
There's no shortage of talent in NA, and this weekend proved it. The teams moving on to #VCTChallengersNA Week 1 Main Event are:@100Thieves @andbox_official @builtbygamers @Cloud9 @Envy @Immortals @version1gg @XSETGAMING
— VALORANT Champions Tour NA (@valesports_na) April 5, 2021
100 Thieves had missed out on the Top 4 at Masters. After a one sided 0-2 defeat to Gen.G, they bombed out of the event. Their newcomer, Ethan “Ethan” Arnold, at least showed some of his potential, but so far his performances aren’t enough to get the Thieves a top placement. Just two weeks after Masters, Ethan and his colleagues are stepping onto the server again and have gotten quite a manageable opponent in the form of Andbox. After all, this team didn’t have to face any of the favorites back in the Qualifier.
Built By Gamers had a wildly different experience. In their last match, they went up against Sentinels. After their most recent victory, TenZ and the rest were maybe a little too overconfident, as they were absolutely stomped on two straight 5-13 maps. In their match versus XSET, they will show whether that was just a one-time show.
After a very slow start to the year, Cloud9 Blue have stayed away from the top of North American VALORANT to this point. They didn’t even qualify for any Stage 1 Challengers events, but their luck seems to be turning around. While TenZ has failed to attend with his new team, Cloud9 Blue made their way past Gen.G to qualify. The signing of Nathan “leaf” Orf is finally paying off, but now they have to prove themselves against Immortals and show that they’re cut out for more than just the Top 8.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER CHALLENGERS?
The Format for Stage 2 has been reworked extensively. Instead of three tournaments feeding into Masters, Challengers 1 and 2 will now send four teams each to the Challengers Finals. The Top 2 can then qualify for Masters Reykjavík. This offline tournament will take place in Iceland and finally bring all the VALORANT regions together. For the first time since the release of the game, we will see North America going up against Europe, Brazil, and Asia.
But that’s a long ways away still. First, 100 Thieves, Envy, and the rest will attempt to advance to the Challengers Finals. The competition doesn’t sleep, but the Double-Elimination bracket gives them some sense of security. Without Sentinels and FaZe, can these teams finally pull through?