From the beginning, the Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational set out to be different. Immediately, the seriously high production value from the event, set up by the largest tournament organizer yet to enter the VALORANT scene in FACEIT’s Flashpoint, took things to another level completely. The commentary featured big names from other scenes, and was also at a very high level. The gameplay, too, was fantastic. Since there were not many teams, only eight, the event could show every single match from North America’s best. And it delivered. From the newly formed Dignitas beating favourites TSM, to Quan “diceyzx” Tran’s ridiculous ace, to Jay “sinatraa” Won finally having discussion around whether he’s the best in the world, it was an action-packed 5 days.
The tournament started off with a bang as, in the very first match, we saw Dignitas upset TSM in dominant fashion. The brand new roster, playing with Ryan “Shanks” Ngo as the fifth man, looked fantastic as they shut down one of North America’s best teams in two consecutive maps, 13-5 on TSM’s pick Haven and 13-4 on Bind. Shanks, along with Rory “dephh” Jackson, were the standouts as TSM was knocked to the lower bracket.
Next up, another upset, not as large this time, as Cloud9 beat Gen.G Esports in three maps. While the French Canadians won Split, Tyson “TenZ” Ngo – playing Reyna all series – stormed back, averaging over 300 ACS the rest of the way as Cloud9 won the next two maps to take the series.
TSM beat Gen.G in a pretty close elimination series. The leads they jumped out to on each map – 6-1 on Bind and Haven – proved too much for Gen.G to overcome, and they were eliminated in last place in the group. Meanwhile, Dignitas were smacked by Cloud9, 13-1 on Haven and 13-7 on Ascent. Mitch”mitch” Semago played Jett on Haven, an interesting change likely made since he has been functioning as one of the team’s primary OPers and the team wanted TenZ on Reyna. He played incredibly well, putting up 355 ACS on the map, before swapping to the new agent Killjoy on Ascent and top fragging again. Cloud9 were through, and the TSM vs. Dignitas rematch was set to determine who would be the last team to move on to the bracket stage.
Though TSM made it closer, forcing overtime on Haven and winning Bind, it still seemed Dignitas had their number, as they won the series 2-1. Whether Dignitas could only beat TSM or not, they had earned a spot in the bracket stage.
The opening matches of Group B were pretty standard, and not particularly close: Sentinels beat Envy 2-0, including a 13-4 on Bind, and Immortals beat T1, who were playing with Daniel “eeiu” Vucenovic as a stand-in, 2-0, including a 13-3 on Bind.
In the elimination match, it would be another disappointing tournament for T1 as they fell to Envy in a close series. It’s again a poor result for what was once North America’s most hyped team, although they did manage to take a map off the eventual finalists.
Sentinels vs. Immortals, however, was incredibly exciting. After Sentinels jumped out to a four-round lead on Bind, Immortals grabbed the next two rounds. On round seven, four of their members died on an A Short push. And that is when diceyzx did this.
From the dash through the teleporter just in time before shots hit, to the no-scope to punish sinatraa’s overaggression, to the fake dash and three gorgeous right-clicks with Jett’s ult, it was quite possibly the best play we have ever seen in VALORANT.
While the momentum gave Immortals the lead at the half, Sentinels roared back on their own attack to win 13-10. Sinatraa, despite being the unfortunate victim of diceyzx’s no-scope, ended the map with over 400 ACS, locking down corners on his Phoenix.
Sentinels jumped out to a 11-1 lead after their attack at the half on Split, and despite some heroics by Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk in the second half, it was far too great of a lead to overcome. Sentinels took the map 13-7 and the series 2-0.
The elimination match, Immortals vs. Envy, was postponed a day by Immortals in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and equality movements happening all over the United States.
This meant it was played the next day, and unfortunately, clutch hero diceyzx’s internet forced him to step down for the series. Garrett “Bunny” Molle played in his place.
Without one of their stars, Immortals were not nearly the same, and fell 2-0 to Envy in the match.
Sentinels absolutely destroyed Dignitas in the upper bracket Semi Final. Dignitas was only able to win 3 rounds in the entire series, and none on the first map, Split. It was complete domination, with Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan putting up a 29/9, 477 ACS game with Jett on Haven. Cloud9 and Envy played a close series, with Envy winning the first map, Split, by a large margin of 13-4 before Cloud9 clawed their way back in with 2 close maps to win. As usual, TenZ was a monstrous fragger on Reyna, though Mitch’s Jett did not work out quite so well this time around.
Envy, while none too pleased about having to go through an extra best-of-three during the day, didn’t show it as they exacerbated fears that Dignitas had only prepared for TSM and beat them 2-1. Dignitas managed to win the first map, Bind, 13-7, with the stand-in Shanks putting in 427 ACS on Jett, but the series was all Envy from then on. On the last map of the series, Haven, Jake “kaboose” McDonald landed four gorgeous headshots on C site to win the map and the series.
In the upper bracket finals, Cloud9 gave Sentinels their greatest challenge yet in a very tense match. Split was back and forth, and was only saved from overtime by a last-ditch effort by Cloud9 to win the last two rounds, off some good play by Daniel “vice” Kim. Bind was not super close – though it was 6-6 at the half, Sentinels won 7 out of 8 rounds on their attack to take the map 13-7. This led us to a final map, Haven, where Sentinels jumped out to an 8-4 lead on defense. Despite Cloud9’s best efforts, they couldn’t quite pull the series back, and Sentinels won the map 13-11.
This gave us one last match, the lower bracket finals between Cloud9 and Envy, before the finals. The first map, Ascent, was absolutely wild. Even with a Killjoy in their composition, commonly considered an agent better at defending, and against a Killjoy from Envy, Cloud9 had a massive 10-2 lead at the half, and the map should have been over. But Envy did one better and won 11 out of 12 rounds on their attack to take the map. It was wild, and totally unexpected given the teams’ compositions.
Split was much closer at the half, 6-6 after Envy’s attack, but they went on a roll on defense to win the map 13-7 and the series 2-0.
The grand finals were not super close, as Sentinels won three straight maps to take the series. Sinatraa topped each map on a different agent each time, cementing himself as one of North America’s best and most innovative professional players.
Final Standings for Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational:
1. Sentinels – $25,000
2. Team Envy – $12,500
3. Cloud9 – $7,500
4. Dignitas – $5,000
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