Written By generic_eric24 - 2021-04-11
In a shocking turn of events, Stage 2 of NA Challengers 1 event had 3 of the top 4 Masters 1 finalists not advance to this portion of the event. As for the new teams, they still have a lot to prove. Would Built By Gamers continue their shocking run after defeating Sentinels in the round of 16? Would newcomers Cloud9 Blue find a way to advance even further than they have in any previous tournament? Or would the star-studded roster of 100 Thieves dominate the rest of the field on their way to glory? How did things play out?
In the first match of the tournament, favorite 100 Thieves quickly put away the new-look Andbox in a two map series. The Thieves continued their swap of Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella & Ethan "Ethan" Arnold on their respective Omen and Sage roles. So far that move appears to be working out, as they are putting away team after team with ease. As for Andbox, this loss sent them to the lower bracket QF where they would go on to lose to Immortals in another 2-0 series loss.
As for one of the bigger upsets on the day, Cloud9 Blue took the 8th place finisher from Masters 1 Immortals to the first three map series of the Quarterfinals. Without TenZ, it appears that C9 is on the right path. After a first map 13-3 loss on Ascent, it did not appear that things would end well for the newcomers. However, they did not sulk, as Jett main Michael "poiz" Possis took over the final 2 maps of Haven and Split to finish with 53 kills and an ACS of 217 across all 3 maps.
One of the lesser known teams, yet one of the upper tier teams in the NA scene, XSET continued to put in work against their opponent BBG this time around. Jordan "AYRIN" He & Matthew "Wedid" Suchan decided to try their hands on the newest agent Astra, as this was one of the first times teams could use the controller agent in competitive play. Although the agent understandably did not work in terms of fragging ability, the character did excellent in setting up her teammates with easy paths into site after site.
In the last matchup in the upper bracket matches, Envy took on another newcomer to the Final 8 Version1. After demolishing V1 on Haven, Envy took their own beating on Split in a 13-3 decision for Version1. During Split, the Skye pick from Austin "crashies" Roberts did not work out has it has in previous tournaments, it seemed as if the opponent knew exactly where he was going every round. During the 3rd map, Envy wanted to make sure they made it to the semi-finals, as the quickly made work in a 13-4 victory.
The first match of the Semifinals was what seemed like a battle of David vs Goliath, the star roster of 100 Thieves versus the lesser known Cloud9 Blue roster. In results that is exactly what took place. Ethan brought the battle sage back to life during this match, finishing with an unprecedented 42 kills, 292 ACS and firing off Resurrection in what seemed like every other round. Also, who can forget the clutch master Spencer "Hiko" Martin?
As for the second semifinal tuneup, Victor's Phoenix play was just on an entirely different level. It seemed as if he was pulling out the Run it Back every couple rounds, finishing with 39 kills and an ACS of 287. Despite a valiant effort from the XSET roster, a victory just wasn't on the cards as they lost the series 2-0.
When it comes to completely lopsided matches, this was by far one of the weirdest series ever. Sandwiched between a 13-3 and a 13-4 map victory from 100Thieves was a 14-12 overtime win from Envy. It started off on Bind, where Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk showed that he is one of the best duelists in VALORANT with an ACS of 316 and an otherwordly six first bloods.
On the overtime map of Ascent, Asuna played even better than he did in the previous map, but the enemy Raze of Jake "kaboose" McDonald proved to be the difference as Envy finished off the overtime rounds. But it was back to business as usual for Asuna on Haven, putting together 416 ACS as 100T took the aforementioned 2-1 win.
While the titans were clashing in the uppers, we saw big developments in the lower bracket of the event. Specifically, Version1 proved themselves as a serious threat by taking down Cloud9 Blue to make top 4. Version1 have been bringing a slightly different style to North American VALORANT for some time, heavily focusing on specific plays to counter their opponents' tendencies, and it worked out here. It was an early exit for BBG as well as Andbox, finishing 7th-8th place, while XSET marched through the lower bracket. First, they took out Immortals, where each team dominated a map but a 13-10 XSET win on Ascent made the difference. Next up was V1, where two big map wins from XSET were spoiled by V1 taking a 13-11 on Haven. Lastly, they faced up against Envy in one of the wildest VALORANT games to date. Whether the two teams were putting their all into it or not was debatable, but it was certainly exciting. XSET's "triple wall" composition of Sage, Viper, and Astra made instant chaos on any site, and proved incredibly difficult for Envy to counter. The unorthodox strategy put XSET through to face 100T in the grand finals.
Wow. If you're a fan of competitive VALORANT you could not have loved how the first map of this 1st place match went anymore. From the very beginning it appeared if the unusual agent combination of Viper and Astra from XSET was going to confuse 100 Thieves enough for them to steal the first pick of Thieves. However the consistent lurks from both Nitro and Joshua "steel" Nissan, and the Raze play from Asuna proved enough to steal their own map pick from under the enemies nose.
Heading into the second map of their own picks, 100 Thieves had all the momentum to continue their winning pace. Once again, XSET went with the Astra and Viper combination of controllers to find their way into sites easier. This time, the deadly duo worked to perfection, with both agents combining for 42 kills. There is no denying that the utility use of Viper and the use of her ult is what ultimately won this map for XSET.
Moving onto Split, one could guess by now that XSET would continue their unique agent composition. However, nobody could have expected that Nitro would move to Jett, Steel to Astra or Hiko to the Breach. In terms of new agents, this was certainly that for 100 Thieves. In the first half, it did not seem to work, as Nitro continue to miss Op shot after Op shot, but he proved that he is more than just an Omen main.
The attack side for 100 Thieves was the complete opposite of their defense side, as they pushed their way into either site easy with the Jett-Raze combination along with Astra blocking off the defense. The support play of Hiko on the breach, altogether finishing with 19 kills & 11 assists to end with an ACS of 216.
Heading into Haven, 100 Thieves was looking to finish this match out, it did not look great early on as they were down 7-1, looking at a possible 11-1. But they fought back winning the last 4 rounds of their defense side to only be down 7-5. With all the momentum on their side they would continue their winning ways with an Ace from Ethan in the pistol round of the second half.
They would continue to force the issue, moving slow and methodical to try and confuse XSET gaming into thinking they were on other sites. They would go on to secure the map, and the match with a 13-11 victory.
This win gives 100 Thieves the number 1 seed in the upcoming Challengers Finals that decide which 2 teams from NA travel to Reykjavik, Iceland for Masters 2. XSET, Envy, and Version1 will be placed 2-4 respectively.
Final Standings for Stage 2 Challengers 1 North America:
1. 100 Thieves - $20,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 2. XSET - $10,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 3. Envy - $7,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 4. Version1 - $5,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 5-6. Immortals - $3,000 + bye to Challengers 2 5-6. Cloud9 Blue - $3,000 + bye to Challengers 2 7-8. Andbox - $1,000 + bye to Challengers 2 7-8. Built By Gamers - $1,000 + bye to Challengers 2
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