This last VCT Challengers weekend was just something else. For both NA and EMEA, we could see one definite pattern – the underdogs just crushed the most popular teams. Even though the tournament is still far from over, we can indeed say that this is the end of an era. Later this week, we begin the Playoff phase, which will determine the top 2 teams that will represent this region at the first VCT 2022 Masters, so let's recap what happened this weekend and get prepared for more high-quality Valorant games!
Group A: Cloud9 Dominance
Cloud9 was the only NA team to qualify for the Playoff phase at Valorant Champions 2021 – Sentinels and Envy (now OpTic Gaming) finished with a 1-2 result, and 100 Thieves didn't even qualify for the tournament. And now, at the first VCT Challengers of 2022, Cloud9 went 5-0 by beating every team they came across without any effort. Their games may not be the most interesting in the world; no fancy tactics there, just good communication and polished aim skills. But well, the most important thing for them is that they keep winning, so they certainly have nothing to complain about.
By the way, 100 Thieves avoided the 0-5 curse by winning against Evil Geniuses. Still, is there anything worth getting excited about? After all, Evil Geniuses was the worst-performing team in the entire tournament. Moreover, while watching this match, we had a feeling that it wasn't even like 100 Thieves won it – more like Evil Geniuses lost it. And 1-4 is still not that good of a score for such an established team. Now that 100 Thieves are out of the tournament, we're almost 100% sure that their roster will get some massive changes ahead of VCT Stage 2.
Here's what the final results look like for Group A in VCT Challengers NA Stage 1:
|5-0||154-101||Qualified for Playoffs|
|The Guard||4-1||143-115||Qualified for Playoffs|
|140-127||Qualified for Playoffs|
|Luminosity Gaming||2-3||120-143||Qualified for Playoffs|
Group B: Purple Is The New Red
The biggest sensation of the week – Version1 beating Sentinels 2-0 with no small amount of trouble. As you can see on a poll below, everyone though that this will be a close game...
Who's taking the first W of the day?— VALORANT Champions Tour NA (@valesports_na) March 13, 2022
... but it wasn't. Not at all. All Sentinels players except ShahZaM scored a negative KDA this match. Interestingly enough, exactly one year ago, we could watch an identical match at the VCT Masters in Reykjavik; back then, no one even had a shadow of a doubt that it would be the Sentinels who would emerge victorious. Well, times change.
There's no denying it – Version1 is showing that they are worthy contenders to become the best team in the NA region. They are on a strong winning streak this year with a record of 21-3. Moreover, none of those 3 losses were in the VCT tournament, and that's what matters most. Honestly, in our opinion, Version1's games were the most interesting to watch during the group phase.
Still, even though the Sentinels lost their match against Version1, they managed to make the Playoffs with a 3-2 score. Here's what the final results look like for Group B:
|5-0||144-92||Qualified for Playoffs|
|OpTic Gaming||3-2||143-114||Qualified for Playoffs|
|Sentinels||3-2||149-155||Qualified for Playoffs|
|Knights||2-3||107-132||Qualified for Playoffs|