The first matches of the VALORANT Champions Tour for North America are officially in the books. After two days, over 120 registered teams were widdled down to just eight in a grueling single-elimination knockout bracket.
While the remaining teams are still playing in the qualifier for the purposes of determining seeding, we already know the teams that will compete in the first NA Challengers weekend. The field of teams showcases the depth that the North American region has since five of the eight squad competing weren’t in the First Strike main event.
Both grand finalists from First Strike, 100 Thieves and TSM, didn’t make it out of the qualifiers. While this is only a bump in the road to Masters for them, the teams that did qualify can make their path much easier.
Here are the eight qualified teams advancing to VCT NA Challengers One.
Fans who’ve been watching competitive VALORANT in North America should be familiar with this team. Sentinels engaged in a fierce rivalry with TSM prior to First Strike since the teams traded victories during the Ignition Series. Considered heavy favorites, they unexpectedly fell in the semifinals of First Strike to 100T. Sentinels defeated Built By Gamers 2-0 in the round-of-16 to qualify.
For months now, the story of Sentinels has been former Overwatch League MVP and champion Jay “sinatraa” Won’s transition into becoming one of the best VALORANT players. But a new face on Sentinels has emerged as a rising star: former CS:GO pro Hunter “SicK” Mims. Against BBG, he dropped 51 kills across two maps, punctuated by a ludicrous 25/5/3 KDA on map two, Haven. Initially a Sage player, SicK has been experimenting more with duelists like Breach and Phoenix and put on a show with each of them in the qualifiers.
With two lethal stars and a solid supporting cast of CS:GO veterans behind them, Sentinels are looking to stake their claim for the North American throne again.
Envy is another familiar name for VALORANT fans. Another team of CS:GO veterans, Envy snagged Victor “food” Wong and Austin “crashies” Roberts when they were let go from T1. The team wasted no time getting acclimated, qualifying for First Strike with ease. There, they reached the semifinals only to fall to TSM. They qualified for Challengers with a win over Equinox Esports.
Envy have somewhat shifted their agent selections and the early results have been positive. Usually a duelist, Jake “kaboose” McDonald is loose on Omen, one of the region’s most popular agent selections. Crashies is becoming more familiar with Skye and food is even working Sage back into the lineup.
Envy didn’t drop a single map in their qualifier run and aren’t looking to slow down heading into the first Challengers weekend.
Gen.G are arguably one of the best teams that just missed out on First Strike. The French-Canadian-American squad was highly ranked going into the First Strike qualifiers, but losses to T1 and FaZe Clan prevented them from competing. But Gen.G are the ones laughing now after defeating Renegades to qualify for Challengers while both T1 and FaZe fell short.
Prior to the qualifier, Gen.G added two new additions in Shawn O’Riley and former Gen.G CS:GO player Kenneth “koosta” Suen. Shawn had a coming-out party at the Knights Before Christmas event, posting a 260.8 average combat score en route to a Gen.G victory. He showed up again in Gen.G’s qualifying wins against Pittsburgh Knights and Renegades with 349 ACS and 59 kills in two maps against the Knights and 355 ACS and 50 kills in two maps against Renegades.
And earlier in the qualifier, he did this:
If no one can stop Shawn, then no one is stopping Gen.G.
NRG arrived late to the VALORANT party, bringing on former Gen.G CS:GO players Damian “daps” Steele and Sam “s0m” Oh in October. They didn’t even have a full roster fielded in time for First Strike and competed with stand-ins and trial players during those qualifiers. Late in December, they added Ryan “Shanks” Ngo and former NA CS:GO pro Gage “Infinite” Green, and won the NSG December tournament. They defeated the team that upset 100T, Carpe Noctem, to qualify for Challengers.
NRG haven’t needed much time to get acclimated. All five players contributed in their 2-1 series win over Dignitas in the round-of-32. Shanks led the way on Jett in their 13-2 rout on Haven and daps on Omen was the key player in their lengthy 20-18 overtime win on Icebox. Compared to their tough series against Dig, their qualifying win over Carpe Noctem was a cakewalk.
NRG are putting together some impressive wins early in their new roster’s time frame. Did they get lucky avoiding 100T? Maybe, but they’re still a team on the rise and they believe they’re tier one.
XSET isn’t just new to VALORANT. As an organization, XSET is new to esports, having just been founded last July. In October, the org hopped into VALORANT by signing the Pretty Boyz roster. They missed out on First Strike but entered the Challengers qualifier with momentum after winning the NSG x Complexity Invitational just weeks prior.
XSET earned their spot at Challengers the hard way with a victory over C9 White and then winning an absolute slugfest against TSM. They withstood a barrage from Wardell throughout the entire series and took the third map, Split, after two sets of overtime. The entire XSET roster stepped up in both map wins and their hard work has been rewarded with a Challengers spot and a sad Myth.
TSM will have some extra work ahead of them now to make it to Masters, but XSET’s momentum can carry them onto the fast track if all goes to plan.
Immortals qualified for the First Strike event in November but were quickly dispatched by Team Envy in the quarterfinals. The team has been quiet since then, but just a week before the Challengers qualifiers, IMT added Nicholas “NaturE” Garrison and Rhett “Kehmicals” Lynch to the starting roster.
The new players went through a trial by fire when they faced Cloud9 Blue with their qualification on the line and were down a map early after losing Split. But on Ascent, Kehmical and Noah “jcStani” Smith stepped up on Jett and Omen, respectively. On the pivotal map three, Icebox, Andrew “ShoT_UP” Orlowski showed out on Reyna, notching a 360 ACS with a 29/18/11 KDA.
This Immortals team could be even better than the version that made First Strike, which means trouble for anyone in their way.
Luminosity, like XSET, entered the Challengers open qualifiers with momentum on their side. Missing a permanent fifth, they turned to Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond, a player for beastcoast who was one of the people dropped from the first version of 100 Thieves. With the stand-in, Luminosity had back-to-back strong finishes at NSG events, coming in third at the Complexity Invitational and then cementing a victory at the Winter Championship with a 3-2 win over Sentinels.
Similar to Immortals, Luminosity found themselves trailing in their qualification series against FaZe Clan. Despite a heroic effort from FaZe’s BABYBAY on Ascent, LG equalized the series with YaBoiDre leading the way on Raze. Luminosity then definitively ended the series with a 13-2 stomp on Split on the shoulders of Alex “aproto” Protopapas’ absurd 426 ACS.
It might be in Luminosity’s best interest to keep YaBoiDre on as a permanent fixture. There’s no telling how far this roster can go.
The New York-based organization’s VALORANT team has already notched a few tournament wins. Andbox came in first at both the NSG x Renegades Invitational and the NSG November tournament. In the Challengers open qualifier, they were forced to overcome against a dangerous T1 team in the round-of-16. They punctuated that win with a 13-3 stomp on Ascent.
Andbox won on the shoulders of Bradley “ANDROID” Fodor, a former CS:GO pro who’s been lights out for his VALORANT team over the past few months. Standing by his side against T1 was another NA CS departure, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker. They had +20 KD differentials throughout the series.
Andbox now look poised to break into the top echelon of NA VALORANT.
All stats via VLR.gg.
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