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

written by AashirAhmed February 21, 2022 at 7:30pm
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Over the weekend, Group B also had some interesting matchups, which we will break down map-by-map in this article.

Pittsburgh Knights vs. Sentinels

The inaugural matchup of Group B this weekend was perhaps the most entertaining, especially since the high and mighty Sentinels had to play in the decider map once again, a sight that was elusive to them for the majority of VCT 2021. Pittsburgh Knights showed the winners of VCT 2021 - Stage 2 - Masters Reykjavík and participants of VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021 that they were a force to be reckoned with when they defeated them on Ascent 15-13.

Ascent being the Knights’ map pick meant they had the edge in battle, but it wasn’t as one-sided a battle as it might seem on paper. The Knights took four back-to-back rounds out of the gate. Before they could do more damage, however, Sentinels took charge of the momentum and started a six-round streak of their own. After a couple of rounds to the Knight, the half ended at an equal score to both teams. Since the map went to overtime, both teams did end up scoring the same number of rounds in the second half as well. Sentinels came extremely close to winning the map as they had a three-point lead on round 19. The Knights turned the tables and were able to reach 12 before Sentinels could, which made the latter force overtime. The first overtime wasn’t enough to pick a winner, so the map proceeded to double overtime where the Knights were finally able to restrict Sentinel from winning the map.

Being veterans of the game, Sentinels realized the importance of the second map on the matchup. After evaluating the caliber of the Knight’s performance in the first map, it was important to come up with a counterstrategy and they managed to so effectively as demonstrated by their performance on Bind. From the pistol round, Sentinels gradually started stacking up points on the scoreboard and they managed to keep the lead throughout the entire map with the first half ending at 9-3 to Sentinels and the map at 13-5.

Haven, the decider, was awaiting the presence of both teams patiently because there was bound to be action. However, Sentinels were done playing around and looked to finish the match as soon as possible. Once again, they embarked on a six-round streak straight out of the gate and earned a total of eight rounds to their name by halftime. It is worth mentioning that the Knights also won four rounds in the half, which were enough to keep them within reaching distance in the second half. They even tried to gain control of the momentum in the first couple of rounds reducing the lead to 8-6, a few more steps closer to winning a matchup against Sentinels. Nevertheless, Sentinels managed to close out the map before the Knights could reach double figures claiming the win and maintaining their position in the group leaderboards.

Rise vs. Version1

Saturday’s matchup wasn’t nearly as exciting as Friday’s but it was still worth watching. Rise, which has managed to defeat OpTic Gaming last week, had significantly high morale going into this matchup and so did Version1 after taking down the Pittsburgh Knights in a clean sweep.

Although Breeze was Rise’s map pick, it didn’t seem to cause any trouble for Version1 who were in control since the pistol round of the first half. Dropping only a couple of rounds, they embarked on a nine-round streak which ended just before halftime with the scoreboard at 9-3 to Version1. Rise now had the chance to show off their offensive strategies and they did so for the first few rounds, but Version1 put an end to their hopes early and finished the map with a 13-6 score.

The 2nd and final map of this matchup was Fracture, Version1’s map pick, and from the first round, it was eminent that there wasn’t much Rise could do to leave this matchup as the winners. They did improve their performance from the first map, finishing 8-4 at half instead of 9-3. At the start of the second half, Rise was starting to gather momentum on their side by taking the first couple of rounds only to be interrupted by Version1’s five consecutive rounds to finish the map and win the matchup.

NRG Esports vs. OpTic Gaming

OpTic Gaming, previously known as Envy, faced defeat against Rise last week, a shock to many Valorant fans in the NA scene. In order to regain their position in the Group B leaderboards, OpTic Gaming desperately needed a win in this matchup and so did NRG Esports after losing to Sentinels last week.

Proceedings commenced on Icebox, which was NRG’s pick but from the start itself, OpTic Gaming had control over the matchup’s momentum. Their formidable defense was no match for NRG’s attack strategies. By round 9 of the initial half, the scoreboard read 8-1 to OpTic. NRG managed to bounce back in the upcoming rounds and take consecutive rounds reducing OpTic’s lead to 8-6. However, they couldn’t maintain their performance in the upcoming rounds and were defeated by OpTic, who finished the map at a 13-7 score.

Fracture, being OpTic’s pick, meant that NRG’s chances at attempting a comeback were bleak and unfortunately that ended up being the case from the first half itself. OpTic began the half on offense and managed to take 11 consecutive rounds in the first half, losing only the 11th round. NRG Esports being down 11-1, however, weren’t planning on giving up without a fight as they managed to gain control over the momentum momentarily as soon as they left the gate in the second half and take four rounds before OpTic finished the map and emerged victorious from the matchup.

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