They’ll be joining the teams from the Nerd Street Gamers closed qualifier, making the seeding for the main event as follows:
1. Team Envy
2. 100 Thieves
6. FaZe Clan
It was one crazy ride of an event for Immortals. After a relatively simple win over Pittsburgh Knights, they entered their match against T1. Unfortunately, midway through the first map of Haven, Andrew “ShoT UP” Orlowski was unable to continue the match due to a medical emergency.
With the score at 11-7, Immortals were forced to play the rest of the map a man down. With only two rounds to go, however, it was more winnable than it looked at first glance, and they did manage to close it out to take the map win.
Fortunately, they were able to find a quick, eligible sub in former Dignitas trial player Ryan “Shanks” Ngo, and the series continued. Of course, the results weren’t what they could have been for Immortals as they went on to lose the series, but they still brought both maps to overtime. They managed to beat Dignitas in the lower bracket, putting themselves through to their qualifying match against Luminosity Gaming. With ShoT UP still sidelined, Immortals played their hearts out. Bind was quite close – Immortals’ good attack betrayed a very flimsy defense, and they ultimately won by a close score of 13-10. Haven, however, was not close, with Jason “jmoh” Mohandessi having probably his best performance ever in a 13-2 destruction. Despite the challenges that had come, Immortals were through.
Going back to T1, they had a stellar tournament. Skipping the open qualifiers and given first seed in their group due to their placement at the NSG Closed Qualifier, they came into this event with new strategies and playstyles that paid off. After making it out of their group with a win over Dignitas and the aforementioned Immortals, they faced off against Cloud9 Blue for a First Strike spot. It was a great match for T1, as they won both maps 13-8.
Ha “Spyder” Jung-woo has slowly been transitioning off the Omen and onto a Duelist role, and this, combined with the ever-increasing aggression of Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, has given T1 the facelift they needed. They’re a quicker team, less afraid to take risks, and they’re rapidly improving because of it. They’ll come into First Strike as a genuine threat, something unthinkable months or even weeks ago.
TSM, another of the teams coming straight from the NSG Closed Qualifier, also came into this event with new strategies – specifically, triple-duelist compositions they’ve been running on every map. The Phoenix legend himself, Taylor “drone” Johnson, has been back on the agent, with Matthew “Wardell” Yu on Jett and Yassine “Subroza” Taoufik swapping between Raze and Reyna. The composition was interesting, for sure, and while it didn’t give the same improvement T1’s changes seem to, TSM also were less in need of that improvement. As it is, they lost their only map of their qualification run to NRG Esports, but still won the match, then took 2-0 victories over FaZe Clan and Moon Raccoons to qualify.
Finally, FaZe Clan. Something has changed with this team. FaZe Clan are no longer the team that struggled against quite weak competition, or the team that needed two attempts to qualify to the UMG Closed Qualifier. They’ve massively leveled up their game.
Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo is who I’d pinpoint as the team’s most improved player – he’s become a rifler to match the best, and it’s no longer uncommon to see him at the top of the scoreboard. Andrej “babybay” Francisty has grown more and more comfortable with the Jett role, and how to get the absolute best out of the agent. While FaZe did lose in the group stage to TSM, they dominated NRG and played a fantastic match against Gen.G Esports to earn themselves a First Strike spot.
While many strong teams, such as Gen.G, Luminosity, a greatly improved Spacestation Gaming, and Cloud9 Blue failed to qualify, special mention must be given to Andbox. One of North America’s most exciting teams, and a favourite to qualify for First Strike, they ran into similar problems as Immortals, with IGL and Sova Jake “POACH” Brumleve sidelined due to sickness. Andbox were, understandably, nowhere near the same with coach wardino standing in, and were eliminated in the group stage.
This completely sets up the North American First Strike Regional Finals: seeding, opening matches, and all. We’ll see Envy play Immortals, Renegades vs. TSM, 100T vs. T1, and Sentinels vs. FaZe to kick off the event. It’ll take place from December 3rd-6th, and can be watched on twitch.tv/valorant_esports_na. Make sure to tune in to the biggest event North America has yet seen!