The VALORANT Champions Tour’s Stage Three is getting closer, and after the showings from Version1 and Sentinels, all eyes are on the red hot North American region. The teams duking it out in the next set of Challengers events will have more to fight for, with three spots in Berlin instead of the two in Reykjavík. But with Sentinels having already secured their spot at Champions and only one direct spot for NA remaining, reaching Masters is a necessity for any team looking to avoid fighting through the Last Chance Qualifier.
With so much on the line, it makes sense for some of the top teams in NA to re-tool, outside of the seemingly invincible Sentinels. Several of the best teams have reportedly made tweaks to their roster to cement themselves at the top and avoid being on the outside looking in.
Cloud9 Blue moves poiz back to bench, starts Xeppaa
So often when teams pull the trigger on a roster move, it’s during a pivotal moment when the team needs to reverse direction. It’s rare to see moves made when the team’s on the come up or even after their greatest achievement so far, but Cloud9 Blue has done it already and now aims to do it again. After being completely absent from the entire first stage of VCT, they reached Challengers One in Stage Two, then reached the Challengers Two grand finals. In between Challengers One and Two, they opted to swap out Relyks for floppy, who just came over from CS:GO just a few weeks prior.
While floppy’s stats were nothing to write home about, his presence brought out the best of his teammates, with both leaf and Xeta notching standout performances during the Challengers Finals. C9 Blue were one map away from Iceland in both series against Sentinels and Version1, which is even more impressive in hindsight considering the run both teams went on in Reykjavík and that floppy had been playing VALORANT for a month.
Despite the great showing from their Jett main poiz, the team is moving another C9 Colossus component in Xeppaa into poiz’s spot. Xeppaa has a more extensive competitive background, and his teammates say they are high on his potential. C9 Blue must be viewing Xeppaa as a player with an exceptionally high ceiling if they’re willing to change the formula again after planting a foothold in the top tier of North America. It’s very high risk, high reward, but they’ve got some cash to throw around in the worst case scenario.
TSM benches cutler, bring in coach Chet, reportedly moves brax in and out of starting roster
Of all the teams considered top tier prior to the beginning of VCT, TSM have easily been the most underwhelming. During the first two stages, the team only reached a Challengers main event twice via open qualifiers in five tries, and went 1-2 in both brackets.
While teams like Sentinels and FaZe created game plans around their star Jett player, TSM crossed their fingers and hoped Wardell could come up with 20+ kills on his own. Not to say he’s the only source of firepower at all, especially with Subroza and drone flanking him. But Jett is the focal point of the meta right now, and relying on your focal point instead of building comps and strats around them is a quick way to get left behind. And the issue gets worse if Wardell isn’t playing any other agent.
TSM is in the midst of one of the larger and more significant overhauls in NA VALORANT; the organization moved Cutler to the bench, brought in a veteran coach in Chet, and has seemingly ended the Brax experiment. Chet seeks to bring structure to the TSM camp more than anything, which—hopefully for the team—means means Subroza locking down a single role while WARDELL expands his personal agent composition.
Gen.G releases huynh, signs NaturE
For most of their time in VALORANT, Gen.G have consistently flirted with the idea of being one of the best teams in NA but have never fully committed. The original FRENCH CANADIANS roster arrived in May 2020 and started to stake a claim at several invitational events but faltered in the qualifiers for First Strike. Despite this, the early results from young duelist Shawn O’Riley were positive, and they turned their attention to VCT.
Throughout Stage One, Gen.G looked to be steadily improving as former CS:GO AWPer Kenneth “koosta” Suen became more acclimated to the game. Their best play came near the end, sneaking into Masters One via the Challengers Three lower bracket. They ran through the Masters One lower bracket, avenging earlier losses to both 100T and Envy before succumbing to the “Smeag” style and the red hot FaZe Clan team.
But as several teams in NA improved in Stage Two, Gen.G fell off, failing to make it through a single qualifier. Dissatisfied, the team parted ways with their Jett main huynh and added a player with more agent variety in NaturE. Aside from agent versatility, NaturE can also fill a variety of different roles including in-game leader. Like TSM, Gen.G has the talent and firepower to take on top teams, but a little added structure and leadership could be what keeps the team consistent going forward.
FaZe reportedly benches Marved while trialing with a new fifth
Like Gen.G, FaZe had a strong start in the first stage but went quiet during Stage Two. FaZe’s first stage was highlighted by their incredible run from the beginning of Challengers Three through Masters One, where they only lost to Sentinels. But just like Gen.G, they couldn’t get out of qualifiers in Stage Two, although their Challengers Two qualifier loss to Version1 looks much less serious in hindsight.
After dominating the spotlight in March, FaZe haven’t been seen in over two months. Considering what the team accomplished and how they improved with just roughly a month spent under coach Trippy, they may bring even more to the table. One of their biggest strengths in Stage One was their unpredictability, but teams will eventually find an answer to their infamous “anti-CS” style, requiring FaZe to write new pages in their playbook.
The word on the street is that FaZe is moving on from Marved for Stage Three, with the team reportedly trialing various players from jammyz, dicey, and BabyJ, among others. Marved provided a lot of stability to FaZe in the controller/sentinel hybrid role, while both babybay and corey created a bunch of kills for their side. A controller like jammyz would be a great fit after his impressive showing at Masters Two Reykjavík.