Teams to watch in VCT Challengers 3 NA open qualifiers

VCT Challengers Three North America starts on July 1, and the scene has seen quite a few changes that will affect how the open qualifier play out.

Some teams have bolstered their rosters with moves, some have seen fundamental changes in hierarchy, while others have signed with new organizations. Here are the teams to watch in the open bracket portion of VCT Challengers Three NA.

T1

T1 will be fundamentally different in VCT Challengers Three. The team parted ways with Sam “DaZeD” Marine and re-signed Braxton “brax” Pierce, leaving the IGL position to Rahul “curry” Nemani. Additionally, Anthony “dawn” Hagopian has been promoted from their Academy roster while Ha “Spyder” Jeong-woo recovers from an injury.

In their announcement video for brax, coach David Denis claimed that he had a differing vision for how the team should play than DaZeD did, which was the ultimate reasoning for the changes.

T1 will certainly look different under curry, and will have additional firepower with the addition of brax. At the very least, it’ll be interesting to see the changes they’ve made and how they’ll affect the way T1 plays.

NRG

NRG added the boisterous Matthew “WeDid” Suchan following the release of Damian “daps” Steele, who left NRG to coach Evil Geniuses’ CS:GO roster. NRG has been a team on the precipice of breaking into the upper tier of NA VALORANT for quite some time, and the addition of WeDid might be enough to put them over the top.

NRG enters Challengers Three after a fairly disastrous Challengers Two Main Event. They fell 0-2 to both Version1 and Cloud9 Blue, and only reached double digits in round count once out of those four maps. With only one change to their roster, they seem confident that these results are an aberration. We’ll see the beginnings of the new-look NRG on July 1.

DarkZero

Previously known as the Kooky Koalas, the DarkZero roster is about to get a major advantage: They’ll all be in one place. Playing together with your teammates in the same facility as opposed to all by yourselves at home is a massive change in atmosphere. For some, it’s the beginning of real pressure. There’s no hiding any mistakes or muting your mic to get frustrated without affecting your teammates. For others, the proximity will bring more camaraderie.

For better or worse, the DarkZero roster will now be on the same playing field as other top teams—teams that they’ve upset or nearly upset before. How this affects them will make or break them during the qualifiers.

Soniqs

Soniqs have been quietly building a very strong underdog run. They’ve been on a roll in the NSG tournaments they’ve played in, and have had solid results against the upper tier of North America. They’re confident, talented, and can definitely make waves in Challengers Three.

The Australian squad relocated to the United States in March 2021, and have had solid results in monthly tournaments. They’ve pushed top teams to the limit, and Challengers Three might be where all that potential begins to bear fruit.

TSM

It finally happened. TSM made a roster change. After arguably being the best VALORANT team in the early days of the scene, TSM fell off incredibly hard as the scene grew. Their refusal to make a roster move was admirable at first, but descended into madness after it became clear that team after team was passing them, and something, anything had to be done.

After signing brax as a sixth man, the organization quickly let go of him and Stephen “retluC” Cutler. They’ll reportedly field 17-year-old Sean “bang” Bezerra as their fifth man. TSM finding their form again might not be a long shot, and their new look definitely qualifies them as a team to watch.


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