All eyes were on the North American VALORANT competition this week, as 16 teams took on the First Strike North America – NSG Tournament – Closed Qualifier to narrow the field down to four First Strike participants. After some shocking upsets and interesting narratives, four of the First Strike North America Regional Final teams, and their respective seeds coming out of this event, are:
2. 100 Thieves
In addition, while not qualifying for First Strike, these four teams will be seeded directly into the First Strike North America – UMG Tournament:
The biggest surprise of the event has to be Renegades. After making it out of their group in second place, Renegades scored a landmark win over Cloud9 Blue to qualify them for First Strike over their heavily favoured opponents. For starters, they look like one of the best Split teams in North America, having only lost once on the map en route to their First Strike qualification. Their role swaps, putting Alexander “retrQ” Kadan on Jett and Chuck “CP2” Proud on Breach, seem to have massively paid off as well. They’ll be underdogs in the main event, no doubt about it. But just getting there is a massive achievement.
Duelists Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk and Quan “dicey” Tran have continued to build from their time on Immortals, and their lingering inconsistency is made up for by one of the best backbones in North America in Counter-Strike veterans Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, and Joshua “steel” Nissan. Hiko in particular has looked like a completely different player from the original 100 Thieves roster. While 100 Thieves may not quite match the baseline of some other North American teams, shown in their quite uncompetitive 0-3 final against Envy, they may have the highest potential of any attending the event.
As for Cloud9 Blue, T1, Complexity, and TSM, they’ll have to take another shot in the UMG Tournament, but their path will be somewhat shorter. They’ll have to make good on this second attempt, though. Any more upsets and some of the consensus best teams in North America will be taking a disappointing week off in December. For T1 and Complexity, making top 8 is a great sign of progress for each team, and they’ll be looking to take it one step further. Jonah “JonahP” Pulice in particular had a fantastic event for Complexity, his 237 ACS and 156.2 ADR making him one of the best performers of anyone. TSM’s constant tinkering with compositions has had both good and bad moments, though, and Cloud9’s reliance on TenZ came back to bite them when he had an uncharacteristic off series against Renegades.