If you’re wondering why some of your favourite content creators are currently not releasing their well-reasoned VALORANT power rankings for North America, it could be because the carefully crafted hierarchies came crashing down at the PAX Arena Invitational. Power rankings try to rank teams based on who the best is right now.
The established duopoly of Team SoloMid (TSM) and T1, who had dominated NA for several months, fell from grace, no kelly. Sentinels, Cloud9 and even Gen.G Esports have been trying their darndest to fill the power vacuum, but due to group infighting, have also not made a great case for themselves as the clear #1. Gen.G beat Cloud9 at Pulse Invitational but then lost to them at EsportsDough. Sentinels was beaten by Gen.G recently but also beat Cloud9 in the PAX Invitational. All prior results of those teams are them just getting slapped either by other teams or by the former two-horse race at the top. You might have a gut feeling that for example, Sentinels will continue to run through the next couple of tournaments, but none of this is clear, none of this is fair.
As esports is most often enjoyed as a real-life shonen anime of sorts, with the main characters ever-increasing power levels having to be accurately measured at all times either through tools or by beating adversity, this limbo state simply can not be tolerated! “There has to be a best team!” you cry out, “Please someone! Bring sense to this mess!” Joe Rogan doesn’t have a 2-hour podcast on who would beat Sentinels in a final at this time, I’m very sorry. I’ll do my best.
“Perhaps we could go to the numbers people. You know, the nerds with the rankings?”, you ask hopefully but I have to caution your enthusiasm for algorithmically generated power rankings that don’t adapt themselves frequently to the realities of VALORANT as a game and without considering how teams have recently performed. To be fair, their goal is rarely to forecast who the best team will be at the next event but they try to honour the past achievements of teams over the last couple of months. They do not help you, my sweet child.
And so, all we have is our eye test to determine who the best VALORANT team in North America is right now, though heed my final warning! I tell you, don’t go there! This is exactly the type of discussion that strains friendships, causes family feuds at the barbeque, and gets you sucker-punched in the kidney at a Nandos. I know and also feel that Sentinels looked cracked but it was one event. Cloud9 made it to three finals in a row, but they also frequently found the easier side of the bracket. Gen.G lost against their direct competitors in Sentinels. There is no clear choice!
Let me instead suggest a more gentle, meditative way to cope with this uncertainty that has put your mind into freefall. While the North American VALORANT world is crashing down and takes you with it, there’s no reason to reach for the falling debris. It is fine to notice that brax is dropping faster than at terminal velocity but you have to let him go. If he finds his wings again, you will catch up. The next tournament is around the corner and perhaps we can weigh again and decide who didn’t leave wanting.
Image via Riot Games