Cloud9 Blue win the Qualifier, but what are the biggest takeaways?
After many of the early tournaments in the VALORANT professional scene were dominated by former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players, it looks like new talent in the scene is finally catching up to the rest. Teams such as Moon Raccoons and The Slimy Boogermen showed that unsigned, unknown players are highly skilled and can definitely perform against the best teams in the game.
In what was one of the best series of competitive VALORANT so far, Moon Raccoons tookc 100 Thieves, a team filled with ex CS:GO all-stars such as Nicholas "Nitr0" Cannella and Spencer "Hiko" Martin, to overtime twice in a three-game series. Whilst The Slimy Boogermen actually managed to make it to the Top 16 and through to the Top Eight, beating Cloud9 White and Built By Gamers along the way, before losing to eventual winners Cloud9 Blue.
A week after winning the Renegades x Nerd Street Gamers tournament, expectations were high for Andbox heading into the open qualifier. However, after easing through the first few rounds, the team fell at the first big hurdle, losing to Luminosity and missing out on the Top 16 and a spot in the closed qualifier. Whilst Luminosity are no joke, having come into the tournament ranked as highly as sixth on thespike.gg rankings, losing out 17th-32nd is without a doubt a major disappointment.
Another team that underperformed in comparison to their expectations is Sentinels. Even though Sentinels made it to fifth-eight place and advanced to the closed qualifier, this was a chance to establish themselves as the clear number one team in NA and they failed to this, losing 2-0 to Gen.G Esports in the quarter-finals.
Which teams exceeded expectations?
Soon after acquiring the two former T1 players, Victor "Food" Wong and Austin "Crashies" Roberts, not many people were expecting Envy to reach the finals of the qualifier - which is exactly what they did. Before losing 2-1 in the finals, Envy went on a tear through the bracket taking out notable teams Complexity, T1, and finally Gen.G Esports on their way to the finals. Another underdog, unsigned team that performed well above expectations was Spot Up. When looking at the community’s predictions for the Top 16, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people placing Spot Up in there. Led by talented Operator player Eric "Kanpeki" Xu, Spot Up are definitely a team the organisations looking to get into VALORANT should keep an eye on looking forward.
Finally, a pick that may surprise a few people - 100 Thieves. After finalising their roster a couple of weeks before the First Strike open qualifier and not having played an official match, the only reason people had high hopes for 100 Thieves was purely due to players previous experience on different games - which can be a very risky thing, as success in other games doesn’t necessarily translate, which you would have thought 100T fans would’ve realised after the disastrous PUBG players roster. These unfound expectations were nearly let down in the round of 32 against the previously mentioned Moon Raccoons, however, after narrowly squeezing through that game, 100 Thieves shocked many by comfortably beating Dignitas 2-0 and reaching top eight before losing out of NA powerhouse TSM in the quarter-finals.
TenZ is the GOAT of NA VALORANT
After transitioning from CS:GO at the beginning of VALORANT, it became immediately obvious that Tyson "TenZ" Ngo would be a superstar on the new Riot Games FPS. Luckily for Cloud9, they already had the prodigal talent under contract from his time on their CS:GO team. Whilst his team originally saw some success, finishing second in a couple of B tier online events, it was mainly on the back of his outrageous carry performances. Although, in major events, even though TenZ was putting up monster numbers, his team struggled to reach finals, achieving a few third-place finishes.
Finally, TenZ has led his team to the pinnacle of NA VALORANT. Even though this event was merely a qualifier and the main prize was seeding for the closed qualifier, it can’t be understated how much this could potentially mean to the Cloud9 roster and TenZ in particular, tasting victory is something that not many people experience, however little the prize. For TenZ, this solidifies his position as the best player in the game, which many already argued after putting up an astounding 1.43 K/D in official games since the beginning of pro VALORANT. However, after having a finals performance with a 1.95 K/D and 316 ACS, both by far the highest of any player on the server, the debate seems to be closed for now as nobody comes close to his impact. Looking forward, with the NSG tournament beginning on November 4, will TenZ once again show his prowess and prove himself as the GOAT?
Images via Igromania | thespikegg | 100 Thieves