NA Challengers Stage 1 Main Event - Week 2 Group A Recap

written by AashirAhmed February 21, 2022 at 7:30pm
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VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Main Event once again managed to entertain VALORANT fans by hosting intense matchups between some of the best teams in the NA region. A total of six matches took place, three per group. The following article will feature a detailed recap of each matchup from Group A.

Evil Geniuses vs. Luminosity Gaming

Both teams were short of luck over the last weekend with Evil Geniuses losing to XSET and Luminosity Gaming against The Guard respectively. Since they were both defeated in clean sweeps and stood on equal footing, there were no obvious favorites in this matchup, which made it even more exciting to look forward to.

Bind, LG’s pick, commenced the proceedings. Luminosity Gaming was quick to take the pistol round looking to set the momentum early on, but Evil Geniuses managed to counter it with a round of their own. This became one of the only two rounds they were able to take the entire matchup because LG went on a seven-game streak courtesy of the magnificent chemistry between LG players. EG took round 10 and broke the streak successfully, but the score read 8-2 putting them in an unfavorable position. Despite attempting to comeback, they became the victims of yet another LG streak, which lasted five games until the map finished with a mind-blowing score of 13-2.

Both teams then moved onto Split, where EG looked to bounce back. However, the first half wasn’t very kind to them as LG was able to take 8 rounds to EG’s 4. It was clear that LG was still in charge of the matchup’s momentum and EG needed more time adjusting themselves to the new opponent. The pressure of their current position in Group A seemed to serve as a motivational factor as they were able to launch a successful comeback by establishing two intermittent streaks of three and four rounds respectively. At round 21, the scoreboard read 11-9 in their favor; although, LG managed to take alternative rounds and reach a score of 11, EG finished the map and forced the decider.

Both halves on Breeze were almost a mirror image of each other, with the only difference being the rounds taken. LG started the map on Defense and finished the half with a 9-3 lead. EG was able to replicate the same score on their Defense forcing overtime and making the matchup even more exciting. LG started overtime on defense and was able to defuse the spike planted long before the time ran out. To win this matchup, EG needed to secure this round but their hopes were quickly diminished by Will "dazzLe" Loafman.

XSET vs. Cloud9

In contrast to the preceding matchup, both participating teams had emerged victorious from their initial matches in the tournament. Given that Cloud9 managed 1st place in Knights Arena VALORAMPAGE - Main Event and the highest-ranking for NA in VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021, they were the favorites in the matchup. However, XSET definitely gave Cloud9 a run for their money by putting them in a vulnerable position after taking the first map with a fascinating comeback.

The first half on Bind, XSET’s map pick, was rather surprising since Cloud9 was leading at halftime with a 7-5 score. XSET wasn’t very concerned with their position in the matchup since they could easily overcome a two-point difference in the second half. However, their plans exceeded beyond simply taking the lead. As the 2nd half began and XSET transitioned to defense, they took eight consecutive rounds winning the map and taking the upper hand in the matchup.

Being down 1-0, Cloud9 desperately needed to win Breeze and force the decider and they did not hesitate to do so in an aggressive fashion. The first half began with XSET taking the first couple of rounds, alternating with Cloud9 for another round, and then facing the wrath of Cloud9. Cloud9 finished the half with a 7-5 score. Even on Defense, Cloud9 was able to continue their control over the momentum taking six rounds finishing the map with a 13-7 score, and tying the matchup 1-1.

Icebox, the decider, lived up to its name and provided just the entertainment the Valorant community wanted. The first half commenced with XSET taking the pistol round on defense only to be overpowered by Cloud9 in six back-to-back rounds. XSET wasn’t planning on giving up without a fight since they turned the tables on the matchup and secured a five-round streak to reach equal footing with Cloud9 at halftime. With the scoreboard reading 6-6, the matchup could’ve proceeded in either direction, but Cloud9 demonstrated a greater need to win the matchup as they were able to take 7 rounds, while XSET only managed to reach double digits. A significant reason behind Cloud9’s success was Nathan "leaf" Orf who finished the map with a 1.45 rating and 287 ACS.

100 Thieves vs. The Guard

The Group A matches this week have been extraordinary and this one didn’t fail to disappoint either. After a loss last week against Cloud9, this was their opportunity to strike back but The Guard wasn’t planning on going easy against one of the best NA teams of VCT 2021. Before we dive into the details of the matchup, it is worth noting that Haven was The Guard’s map pick, Split 100 Thieves’, and Ascent the decider.

Haven began with an unexpectedly aggressive strategy employed by The Guard roster. Round after round they attempted to penetrate 100 Thieves defense as quickly as possible. Although 100 Thieves was able to counter them on two occasions, the Guard was able to take 10 rounds by the end of the first gaining the upper hand in the matchup earlier on. At that instance, the only opportunity for 100 Thieves to comeback was to use the same strategy against them and they ended up doing so. The score by the end of the second half was tied up at 12-12, which signaled overtime. On both attack and defense rounds, The Guard overpowered 100 Thieves and secured the map. It is worth mentioning that the last round of the map was a Flawless from The Guard where they managed to eliminate the entire 100 Thieves roster within a minute – an impressive feat at such a competitive stage.

100 Thieves were still very much in the match and could turn the table around in their favor if they wanted to, especially since Split was their map pick. Nonetheless, the first half of the map didn’t go as they would’ve wanted it. With teams alternating between four round streaks and individual rounds, the score was tied at 6-6 at halftime. If 100 Thieves wanted to win the matchup, winning the second half was crucial and they ended up doing so in a magnificent fashion. They embarked on a seven-round undisputable streak finishing the map with a 13-6 score.

All the fans were anticipating an exciting turn of events in the final map, but what transpired was beyond imagination leaving the community in awe. 100 Thieves’ performance in the second half of Split seemed to upset The Guard making them thirsty for vengeance and fueling their 13-0 streak on Ascent.

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