With the conclusion of Challengers 3 in North America this weekend, everything is set for Masters to kick off. The event was exciting as always, with 100 Thieves and NRG Esports debuting big-name signings, while FaZe Clan set out to prove their doubters wrong and Kooky Koalas attempted to continue their upset streak.
Things started off in the upper bracket of course, with Luminosity Gaming playing Kooky Koalas and Gen.G Esports facing TSM to kick off the event. As good of a story as the Koalas had, they struggled against the event’s favourites, falling 13-7 and 13-6. TSM vs. Gen.G, however, was a different story. The match was quite close, with the First Strike finalists seeming to finally get back to form. They’d faced Gen.G when they’d failed to qualify for Challengers 2, and got their revenge here. Yassine “Subroza” Taoufik put up 370 ACS on Bind, and TSM looked like they were on their way back to the top.
100 Thieves played NRG and FaZe matched T1 in the other opening games. The former match was close, with overtime going 100T’s way 17-15 on Haven, but NRG seemed to slowly figure out 100 Thieves’ style over the course of the match. By the end, they were countering 100T’s play and not giving them anything they wanted, handily taking the last two maps to win the series 2-1. Despite the loss, Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk still managed to put up this ace, with some people calling it the best play VALORANT has seen yet:
For the final series, FaZe showed a taste of what was to come as they took down T1. They looked tactical for possibly the first time ever, shutting down Ha “Spyder” Jung-woo’s mid lurks to win T1’s map pick of Ascent and closing out Haven in overtime.
Moving on, this matched LG up against TSM and NRG with FaZe. After LG took down TSM 13-9 on Ascent, we moved to Icebox, where TSM elected to play without a Sage. Not having the wall to cut off angles on the sites clearly put TSM at a disadvantage on the map, and they were unable to establish their presence enough to make things work. LG took the map 13-7, and the series 2-0.
On the other side, NRG and FaZe went to a tight map 3. After bottom fragging for each of the two previous maps, Bradley “ANDROID” Fodor finally began to get things going, leading the way for NRG with 329 ACS on that final Ascent map. Unfortunately for him, Andrej “babybay” Francisty did one better, putting together 403 ACS, 1.84 Rating, and this gorgeous ace:
FaZe would take the map 13-10, advancing to the upper finals. Once there, facing off against the favourites Luminosity, they still wouldn’t look back. They’d always had the fragging, but now seemed to be putting together some semblance of strategy to go with it. It was 13-7 and 13-8 FaZe, as they headed all the way to the grand finals.
Meanwhile, down in the lower bracket, the rest of the Masters teams were being decided. Unfortunately, the Kooky Koalas underdog run came to an early end against Gen.G, while 100 Thieves knocked T1 out early despite losing Icebox in a devastating 13-1. This set NRG up with Gen.G and TSM with 100T for the last two Masters spots.
For TSM, it was disappointment, as they were handily beaten by 100T. 100T began by picking Icebox – the map they’d just lost 13-1 on – but with TSM still opting out of a Sage, it was one-sided in their favour. TSM couldn’t recover from the 13-4, and with some Spencer “Hiko” Martin clutches along the way, 100T knocked TSM out 13-7 on Ascent. In the NRG-Gen.G match, things were similar. The duelist duo of Shawn “Shawn” O’Riley and Danny “huynh” Huynh kept NRG on their toes all match long, and they couldn’t react to Gen.G’s quick, aggressive playstyle. Gen.G rounded out the participants list for Masters.
With all this decided, though, we still needed seeding. Going up against 100T, Gen.G dropped a 10-2 lead on Ascent, with 100T ultimately taking it 17-15 in overtime. While Gen.G came back to take Haven 13-7, Asuna put up 418 ACS and 2.01 Rating on Bind to lead 100 Thieves to victory.
The next match against Luminosity was 100% the Asuna show. With multiple massive clutches, he dominated the server. Icebox was 13-7, and Ascent was an incredibly dominant 13-1.
As a result of all this, we were set up for a great grand finals between FaZe and 100T. But as good as Asuna had been, babybay wasn’t ready to give him the crown. He was massive over the series, playing his ultra-aggressive Jett to perfection.
FaZe began with a 1-map advantage due to coming out of the upper bracket, and didn’t let 100T grab a map. The firepower wasn’t quite there for 100T, and they found themselves continually forced back by FaZe’s aggressive but calculated play. Interestingly, we even saw some new executes out of FaZe, something you might expect them to save for Masters. It was a good match, and a great display for FaZe. They nabbed the fifth seed for Masters.
Final standings for NA Challengers 3:
1. FaZe Clan – $20,000 + Masters spot
2. 100 Thieves – $10,000 + Masters spot
3. Luminosity – $7,000 + Masters spot
4. Gen.G – $5,000 + Masters spot
5-6. NRG – $3,000
5-6. TSM – $3,000
7-8. Kooky Koalas – $1,000
7-8. T1 – $1,000
This sets up the Masters participants and opening matchups as follows:
Envy vs. 8. Gen.G
Sentinels vs. 7. Luminosity
Immortals vs. 6. 100 Thieves
- XSET vs 5. FaZe Clan
Masters will be incredibly interesting to watch. Sentinels should still be considered the favourites, no one has shown the consistency they have over the last few months. But if Envy can continue the form that made them Challengers 2 champions, they’ll be right up there. Immortals are also favourites, though they’ve struggled when going up against the two previously mentioned rosters. 100 Thieves have looked fairly good with Ethan “Ethan” Arnold, and their pure pedigree means they can’t be counted out either. For upset potential, watch FaZe and XSET. The event will kick off on March 11th, be sure to follow everything with THESPIKE.GG!