Written By Germanicus - 2021-02-23
The last of the Challengers events to take place this weekend was North America. Due to widespread power outages across Texas, the event was pushed back two days. However, that didn’t stop the teams from delivering top-notch VALORANT action. With some upsets along the way, we got North America’s first four Masters teams - Envy, Sentinels, Immortals, and XSET.
The first quarterfinals were quite straightforward. Sentinels didn’t receive too much of a challenge from FaZe Clan, beating them 13-7 on both maps, while Envy somewhat surprisingly demolished XSET, taking Split 13-1 and Bind 13-7. It was a taste of what was to come for Envy, while XSET looked completely out of their depth. They tried out a new composition for Split, and from the scoreline, it’s easy to tell how that went.
Immortals took down Gen.G Esports in a closer series, though still not a nailbiter or anything, but the real treat of the quarterfinals was Luminosity Gaming vs. 100 Thieves. While 100 Thieves came out of the gate looking good, taking Ascent 13-6, Luminosity completely pulled things back. Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk had an uncharacteristically poor series, while Kaleb "moose" Jayne absolutely popped off with some critical clutches.
Icebox was close, but Luminosity just edged ahead on their defending half to win 13-10, then 100 Thieves struggled to get things going on Bind. Clutches repeatedly went against them, and LG strung together 7 straight attacking rounds to win 13-7.
The upper bracket continued on from here with some stellar matches. Sentinels and Envy faced off in a very close semifinal, and things finally seemed to really click for Envy. The different agent assignments they’ve been playing around with finally seemed to bear fruit, with Anthony "mummAy" DiPaolo proving very impactful on Omen only to give it up to Jake "kaboose" McDonald to go back onto the Jett. Sentinels did not get some of the support they typically do from Michael "dapr" Gulino, and it was Envy who’d progress to the upper bracket final, with map scores of 13-10 for Envy on Ascent, 13-10 for Sentinels on Icebox, and 13-9 for Envy on Split.
Immortals and LG faced off in a Challengers 1 rematch, and things went just as they had then. The series was close - Icebox went to 3 rounds of overtime, and both teams hit double digits on Ascent as well - but ultimately went in Immortals’ favour. Rhett "Kehmicals" Lynch continues to be one of NA’s most creative duelists, with well thought-out micro plays, while Amgalan "Genghsta" Nemekhbayar also had a great series on the scoreboard side of things. It was 2-1 Immortals, and they booked their ticket to Masters.
This set up Envy and IMT in the upper bracket final. It was another 2-1 series, but individual maps were not quite as close this time, and Envy particularly handed it to Immortals on Icebox, with a 13-4 score. Envy were a well-oiled machine, and not one that Immortals could match for the moment. Envy headed to the finals, while Immortals dropped into the lower bracket finals.
FaZe and Gen.G were eliminated quite early - XSET’s win over FaZe never really looked in doubt past their attacking half on Haven, while Gen.G had the misfortune of running into North America’s First Strike champs in their first lower bracket match. This set up Luminosity vs XSET and Sentinels vs 100 Thieves as the two matches to determine the last 2 teams that would advance to Masters from Challengers 2.
While Sentinels and 100T looked close on paper, it wasn’t in the server. 100T’s struggles continued as they looked completely outclassed. Quan "dicey" Tran was the lone bright spot for 100T, as he had been all weekend, but it wasn’t enough. With scores of 13-6 and 13-4, Sentinels were through.
Meanwhile, XSET were pulling off a surprising upset over Luminosity. LG had consistently been getting the better of XSET over the last few months, but couldn’t make it happen when it mattered most. Big clutches went in XSET’s favour and they always seemed to be in the right spot at the right time. LG were toppled 13-6 and 13-7, making XSET the final team to progress to Masters.
There were still games to be played, though. XSET and Sentinels turned out to be quite the one-sided series, with Sentinels turning on the jets in the lower bracket just as they had in Challengers 1. Hunter "SicK" Mims was all over his opponents, putting up 350 ACS and 2.01 Rating on Haven, while Split was just a solid team effort. 13-4 and 13-6 were the scores, putting Sentinels through to face Immortals.
This series was closer - with Andrew "ShoT UP" Orlowski doing ShoT UP things and recording 339 ACS in a 13-7 losing effort on Split - but it was again Sentinels who took it. It’s as if, when they lose, they become unstoppable. Ascent was closer, with some well-coordinated plays helping Immortals leave the score at 6-6 after their attacking half, but Sentinels then came back and put up 7 quick rounds on their own attack. Jay "sinatraa" Won was always right where Immortals were, and dapr’s smart camera setups helped Sentinels be ready every time Immortals tried to make a play. It ended 13-9, sending Sentinels to a finals rematch with Envy.
The grand finals were not nearly as close as some would have hoped. Envy, spearheaded by an astronomical 383 ACS performance from Victor "Victor" Wong, continued to show how much they'd been improving. Sentinels picked Haven, and were crushed on their attacking half.
With the score at 10-2, all Envy needed to do was win 3 rounds to take the map, and though Sentinels pulled off a decent defense as well, there was never really a chance of Envy not grabbing what they needed. Moving on to Bind, things were even more dominant. Sentinels picked up 3 rounds total as Envy smashed them everywhere they went. The finals were a short one, and Envy will move into Masters as the hottest team in North America and the number 1 seed.
Final standings for Challengers 2 North America:
1. Envy - $20,000 + Masters spot 2. Sentinels - $10,000 + Masters spot 3. Immortals - $7,000 + Masters spot 4. XSET - $5,000 + Masters spot 5-6. Luminosity - $3,000 + bye to Challengers 3 5-6. 100 Thieves - $3,000 + bye to Challengers 3 7-8. FaZe Clan - $1,000 + bye to Challengers 3 7-8. Gen.G - $1,000 + bye to Challengers 3
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