North American esports organisations have been shopping for top talent, and they're showing off this weekend
Another weekend, another stop for the Riot Games’ IGNITION SERIES. This time we turn to North America, the most developed region in terms of its VALORANT pro scene. Multiple high profile esports organisations the likes of Cloud9, T1, TSM and more have picked up VALORANT teams and are putting them to the test at the PAX Arena Invitational.
The group stage of the event has already concluded, though it was only streamed on the personal broadcasts of the participating players. The biggest surprise comes at the hand of “Homeless” around former Fortnite pro player Harrison "Psalm" Chang, who beat 100 Thieves on day 1 of the qualifiers and made it out of Group A together with Team Solomid (TSM) who have so far remained unbeaten again. Impressively, Homeless managed to take a map off TSM on Bind, with Phat "supamen" Le dropping a whopping 28 Kills with the second-highest on the server only reaching half that amount.
In Group B, T1 and Team Envy made it out as expected at a score of 4-0 and 3-1 respectively. T1’s Victor "food" Wong took over the group stage, top fragging in three out of their four group matches. Braxton "brax" Pierce continued his relatively quiet performance that he has had over recent weeks, struggling to find his form as of now.
Immortals and Gen.G Esports also passed the litmus test of their rosters, making it out of Group C ahead of teams like Mixup and Prospects. In their direct head to head, Gen.G never really found into the match and got finished off 4-13 on Bind and 9-13 on Split.
In the group of death with four fully sponsored North American top tier esports organisations, Sentinels around former Overwatch League MVP Jay “sinatraa” Won topped their group and even beat Cloud9 in a clean 2-0 on Ascent and Bind.
The playoff bracket will begin today at 8 pm (BST) / 3 pm (EST) / 12 pm (PST) and will be played under the best of three, single-elimination format.
Team SoloMid vs Team Envy
Hey Envy, did you find the kryptonite?
TSM (2-0, 85%): TSM themselves are on a roll and given their recent dominance over the region, are entering the match as the favourites. That said, the team formerly known as Together We Are Terrific that was picked up by Team Envy in mid-July and was seen as a dark horse at most events they participated in during the first months of VALORANT. During the T1 x Nerd Street Gamer IGNITION SERIES event, Together We Are Terrific already took TSM to a third map, proving that they got what it takes to make the best North American team sweat.
Sentinels vs Gen.G Esports
Who can mess with the Overwatch hustle?
Sentinels (2-1, 60%): Given the vastly different game mechanics between Overwatch and VALORANT, it was always going to be a rough start for those that had committed their time solely to the Blizzard FPS before. However, Overwatch pro players may just be more used to the heavy grind, and their work ethic could be a contributing factor in eventually outpacing established Counter-Strike:Global Offensive (CS:GO) talent with a headstart. Additionally, the vast majority of pro players with FPS interests have played CS:GO at some point. Paired with Counter-Strike veterans and Hunter "SicK" Mims, who is currently topping the charts for Sentinels, the team is a well-rounded roster of CS know-how and youthful hunger. On the other side of the screens, Gen.G Esports is made up of low profile players that performed exceedingly well during the beta. The approach these two organisations have taken are diametrically opposed and yet from a performance standpoint, Sentinels only seem slightly ahead so far.
T1 vs Homeless
You were supposed to be the chosen one.
T1 (2-1, 60%): For day one T1 fans of Braxton "brax" Pierce and Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, this match could turn into a bumpy ride. The team came into the beta with a lot of hopes and an aura of expectation that reminded one of the hegemony that Ninjas in Pyjamas had established in the early stages of CS:GO. Made up of three of the former iBuyPower players and CS:GO major winner Skadoodle, the movie that played in a lot of people’s minds was the one of redemption and a new chance for supremely talented players to prove themselves once more. T1 delivered on that promise partially, though their recent losses to TSM hurt the feel-good moment that T1 was destined to experience. Out of nowhere comes Homeless with runner-up to the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals psalm at their helm, who had proclaimed to the world that he was looking to build a legacy throughout several games. These heroic tales are about to converge in this match and anything but a victory for T1 would make for a surprising story to tell to your children.
Immortals vs Cloud9
TenZ vs World (and some maths)
Immortals (2-1, 55%): The early endeavour into VALORANT that Cloud9 took is best explained from the back of a workhorse, though perhaps it would be rude to add even more weight to Tyson "TenZ" Ngo tired spine. Throughout the game's early history, no player has done more to drag his team across the finish line by himself than TenZ. Regularly, he dropped 30-bombs only to see his team lose the map despite his best efforts. Recently, however, his teammates extended the courtesy of contributing to their success which saw Cloud9 rise to the top 5 and arguably top 3 of the North American power rankings.
Immortals, on the other hand, are all about teamwork, conceived of the tenacious minds of Mike "Packing10" Szklanny who is both General Manager and Head Coach for both Immortals’ VALORANT and the parent company’s Overwatch League team, the Los Angeles Valiant. You do indeed read correctly that Packing10 is currently holding four jobs on top of being a young parent. Jordan "Gunba" Graham has been with him on this adventure and the statistically-minded but also strategically excellent coach has been contributing to both games. Together, they scouted Immortals VALORANT roster and picked players out of relative obscurity. It is therefore very on-brand that the team’s current top performer during the group stage is the Mongolian Amgalan "Genghsta" Nemekhbayar, a relative unknown in CS:GO circles.
Images via Riot Games