The first serious VALORANT tournament packs a serious punch

17:00, 26 Jun 2020

T1 and Nerd Street Gamers are at it again and this time they’re holding what should be considered the biggest event thus far in VALORANT. With a veritable who’s who of teams in attendance from TSM to Sentinels, the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown is our first true litmus test. It will serve to not only find the best team but more importantly to showcase line-ups that have not had the opportunity to battle against the pack leaders. With that in mind, Volamel and Yiska sat down and aggregated their power rankings for the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown.


S Class (Championship Caliber)

TSM

Volamel: Coming off an impressive win at Immortals’ First Light and with their track record, TSM has got to be leading the charge and sit among the few favourites we have for the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown. Wardell is frankly leading the discussion for best Operator in the game, drone acts as a strong anchor piece for the team, and Subroza rounds out this stacked roster with a strong rifle and lurk potential. TSM are the front runners and a win here would cement them as the undisputed best team in North America.

Yiska: Throughout the short VALORANT competitive history, the roster TSM picked up had great competitive success and won almost every single tournament they’ve participated in. The taint of having lost against T1 during Twitch Rivals is a weak one, given that the team was forced to play with stand-in Myth. Given this impeccable track record, they should be considered the favourites to win it all, though other teams might not be far behind.

T1

Volamel: T1 could easily be the best team in the world, however, they have been quiet when it comes to recent events. Many people will point towards Twitch Rivals which was a good performance from them, but their major competition, TSM, was playing with a ringer and still took them incredibly close. They have the potential to run away with this event with players like brax and Skadoodle, but in terms of rankings, they’ve got to take a close backseat.

Yiska: To earn the right of being called the best team within a region, your results need to back it up. Yes, the amount of tournament wins T1 has on their scorecard is impressive, but they’ve also participated in a significantly smaller number of events. The amount of competitions during the beta has allowed T1 and TSM to miss each other while still being able to stack wins. It was about time for these two teams to compete in the same tournament at full capacity. 

 

A Class (Playoff Contenders)

Immortals

Volamel: Immortals surprised me at their First Light event. After a fairly strong showing against TSM at the Counter Logic Gaming Blitz Cup #2, the team surprised at First Light upsetting Gen.G Esports in the 3rd place match, 2-1. JcStani is someone you are going to want to keep your eye on this weekend. This is a young team with a great coaching staff that is going to cement their name at this event.

Yiska: The point about coaching staff that Volamel brought up is worth highlighting. For those unaware, the team of Packing10, Gunba and Unter are workhorses who are coaching both the VALORANT and the Overwatch League roster with an already small staff. That said, they are some of the best scouts and developers of talent in all of Overwatch and it should be no different for VALORANT. I echo the point made about jcStani and think that this is exactly the type of player profile that will do wonders in the foreseeable future.

Gen.G Esports

Volamel: Gen.G is looking to regain their top seed after a frankly shaky showing at Immortals First Light tournament, dropping a map to China Nguyen in the quarterfinals, losing 0-2 to Cloud9, and then narrowly losing to Immortals in the 3rd place decider. Their first-place finish at Pittsburgh Knights Tournament Series over teams like Together We Are Terrific and Big Frames showcases how strong the team is as a gatekeeper, but they have the potential to be much more than that.

Yiska: The sample size is not big enough to cast a final judgement on the nature of this team, but initial observations are that they seem to be inconsistent, but have incredibly high peaks. They are also the defending champions of the T1 x NSG tournament series, looking to defend their title this weekend.

Cloud9

Volamel: Cloud9 is a very punchy team. TenZ is an early star in the VALORANT space and with Relyks signed recently, their stable is filling out nicely. However, there are some early signs of consistency issues and leaning heavily onto TenZ to lift most of the weight in their wins. That’s not to discredit their very creative playstyle and unique angles showcased during Immortals’ First Light tournament. 

Yiska: The final version of this roster has not been officially announced though it is interesting that at least mitch and shinobi have competed with TenZ and Relyks on several occasions now, suggesting that an announcement about them joining the organisation is likely coming. Perhaps this tournament is the litmus test for the core of this roster. If c9 wants to have a chance in this tournament, they can not simply count on TenZ to carry them there. The competition here is simply too good.

 

B Class (Middle of the Pack)

Sentinels

Volamel: Dated results from June during the Elite Esports - Rivalry Bowl and the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational make the Sentinels hard to read. Their disappointing finishes at both events, 7th-8th and 5th-6th respectively, contrast the potential firepower of the roster. Sinatraa comes from an impressive background in Overwatch, ShahZaM and SicK both have tenured careers in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This roster should be seen in more events and it’s a shame we haven’t seen them recently. Through sheer potential alone and due to the fact we have not seen them as of late, Sentinels gets some slack in our power rankings, but be warned; they could trade games amongst teams in their class and be upset.

Yiska: I’m sceptical on the foundational properties of this team and wonder how far they will be able to go. We have to assume that the Sentinels took the gaps between their showing to get a working team environment together and it’s on them to prove to the world that they are more than just a publicity signing. Especially zombs hasn’t convinced in prior showing and sinatraa, perhaps understandably, was performing nowhere near the potential he had shown in Overwatch. I don’t anticipate a good showing here and wouldn’t even have them as a favourite over the teams from the open qualifier.

Together We Are Terrific

Volamel: Together We Are Terrific sent TSM to the losers bracket during the Pittsburgh Knights Tournament Series with a 13-5 win on Ascent. That alone should give you a good read on where this team sits in the middle of the pack. Led by former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in-game leader FNS, Together We Are Terrific have been doing well for themselves these past few months. They qualified at the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown Qualifier #1 over teams like Code7 and Prospects and won the qualifier without dropping a map. They also won the Nerd Street Gamers Open 12 over T1 Academy and Shironeko. If you’re looking for a dark horse for the event and someone who could upset some teams, this is your team and they are terrific. 

Yiska: VALORANT esports so far has been heavily invite-only focused, with mostly influencer tournaments making up the lion’s share of events with public interest and the most proven players. It will, therefore, be interesting if the eye of the scouts that have recruited teams based on limited data will match up to the thorough process of an open tournament, from which only the strongest emerge. In this qualifier, Together We Are Terrific was on top of the food chain, which could make for very scary encounters for some of these signed pro teams.

Prospects

Volamel: Prospects is another team that should be on people’s radar. They qualified as the second seed during the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown Qualifier #1 behind Together We Are Terrific, which is no easy task, so credit where credit is due. They also advanced as the first seed out of Group D during the Pittsburgh Knights Tournament Series but were dealt two quick losses in the playoffs to, you guessed it, Together We Are Terrific and Big Frames. Taking second at the Nerd Street Gamers Open 11, they beat China Nguyen in the semifinals but lost to ez5. Again, another dark horse team that should not be slept on, Prospects live up to their namesake.

Yiska: Much like Together We Are Terrific, getting out of the qualifier is an impressive feat and they’ve farmed most of the B-Tier tournaments with amazing success, clearly elevating them to the level of other professional teams who have already found an organisation. This weekend will be an excellent opportunity to showcase their skills, though I’m not ready to proclaim them a dark horse for this event. Given their group with Cloud9 and Together We Are Terrific, it’s unlikely they will make it out of groups.

100 Thieves

Volamel: Taking the core of Highground, a team that has shown a lot of promise over the course of the beta and the early entrance of the competitive VALORANT space, and pairing them a legend and veteran of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive space like Hiko should be a great fit. This might not be the event that we see them launch into the stratosphere, but day by day this team is going to come together, and has the potential to become a title contender.

Yiska: It’s an interesting turn of events that 100T decided to go with a relatively low profile team to build their core around. The initial impression of how Hiko was brought on communicated that he was going to build a team from scratch with himself at the helm. He has stated that while it wasn’t his decision to pick up these four guys, he’s still happy with the selection and is still in contact with his org who value his input. I’m not as hopeful on their chances to have a breakout performance as Volamel and would be very surprised if they made it any further than loser’s bracket round 2.

FaZe Clan

Volamel: Headed up by former Overwatch League star, Corey, FaZe Clan comes in as an unknown quantity. Alongside him sit Overwatch League player ZachaREEE, former Fortnite professional player, Psalm, and former in-game leader for Complexity Counter-Strike: Global Offensive roster, dephh. With talented veterans, the hopes for this squad should be high, but without any results, it’s hard to rate them as such.

Yiska: If you haven’t followed Overwatch and don’t know about Corey, you will be introduced to one of the most insane aimers in FPS history. His reaction time is incredible and his flick aim is otherworldly too. This guy easily has TenZ-level talent if not more. The nature of how this roster has come together for this tournament at least from the outside seems fairly last minute, which puts their success here into question. At the very least, this will be an exciting team to watch.

Code 7

Volamel: Coming by way of Overwatch veterans rob-wiz, tork, and Nicolas, Code 7 is not to be slept on. With wins over the Charlotte Phoenix, Spaceboys, smoke and Prospects, this team isn’t on people's radars, but should be. An interesting thing to note from Immortals’ First Light is their pick rate of Reyna. During their match against Immortals, who also picked a fair amount of Reyna, Code 7 ran Reyna on both Bind and Ascent.

Yiska: Déjà vu, I’ve seen this team before. The TJO brothers are solid early movers in most games they’ve competed in over the last couple of years. They’ve unfortunately been beaten by the other open qualifier teams on numerous occasions, leaving little wiggle room for them to go far. 100T and Code7 should have an easy time getting out of their group ahead of them.

 

C Class (Bottom Teams)

Echo 8

Volamel: Echo 8 is a name that people should be familiar with from Immortals’ First Light tournament. While they didn’t perform at the event, they also battled TSM, which should say something. Last month Echo 8 performed extremely well in a smattering of monthly events which lead to their second-place finish during the First Light Qualifier and their first-place finish at the Nerd Street Gamers Monthly #1 with wins over teams like Together we are terrific and 303 Esports Orange. Most recently Echo 8 placed first in T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown Qualifier #2 over Spot Up.

Yiska: Interestingly, Echo 8 has had the number of Together We Are Terrific on multiple occasions. They’re another one of those teams that have an impressive resume on first glance and could arguably be the strongest team out of the open qualifier. As such, they shouldn’t be underestimated.

Spot Up

Volamel: Spot Up has had some strong performances at Fight Night Arena #5 and at the second T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown qualifier, but outside of that, they don’t have too much to show. They were a team that came into the game quickly and performed well, but that was months ago. Now, that’s not saying they can’t ride the momentum they’ve had recently into a respectable performance, but the odds are not in their favour. 

Yiska: Spot Up are another open qualifier team but unfortunately have hit one of the stronger groups of the tournament and they’re unlikely to make it out over TSM and Immortals.

Mixup

Volamel: Mixup as a team impressed at Immortals’ First Light tournament in their game against Cloud9. In general the team feels mechanically sound, but their recent performances in the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown qualifiers have seen them take a hit. With a loss to Spot Up and ez5 in the first qualifier and smoke and 303 Esports Orange. Mixup feels like a team that will provide some notable individuals for teams looking to fill out their roster, but unless something changes at this event, they don’t feel like they have what it takes to become a competitive staple.

Yiska: Mixup was reliant on an invite given to them likely based on the performance in the community qualifier where they finished second to Charlotte Phoenix. Perhaps they will be able to take a match off Sentinels, but any more than that seems to be unrealistic.

Charlotte Phoenix

Volamel: Former Apex Legends and Overwatch professional player, Spirit, heads up this amateur team that has shown some promise this past month. The Charlotte Phoenix attempted to qualify through the second T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown Qualifier but suffered two quick losses to Spaceboys and Final Boss and were knocked out. However, the team did manage to qualify through the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown Community Qualifier topping Mixup, 3-1, who took Cloud9 to a handful of close games not too long ago at Immortals First Light. 

Yiska: Neither TSM nor Immortals seems like a beatable team for this aspiring roster. Making it close against either of them would inspire hope for their future.

Team Ninja

Volamel: This team has Ninja. Unless VALORANT adds the ability to double-pump it is difficult to give this roster much credit. To be fair, Ninja has shown himself to be fairly proficient in multiple different shooters like Fortnite, H1Z1, and Halo over the years, but his piecemeal streamer team, unfortunately, is going to get dogpiled by teams that have been practising and scrimming together for months now. 

Yiska: Forget about Ninja in this match. It’s all eyes on Grego. It’s a little weird how nobody seems to have been able to tie down someone who has shown to be an excellent first mover in every esport he has touched. For those wanting to see his individual skills on display you’d have to look no further than his game against T1 in which he often had brax’s number in duels and honestly showed scary mechanics. With Ninja signal boosting this match, it will be the perfect opportunity to showcase his skill set.

 

Images via Riot Games, T1 and Nerd Street Gamer

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