Written By Germanicus - 2020-10-18
With every team in North America preparing their roster for First Strike, the Renegades x NSG VALORANT Invitational brought us a preview of the strength of teams before it. We saw upsets galore, new teams rise up, and our entire perspective of the region get shifted in the most crucial month VALORANT esports has seen yet. So what all happened at this critical event?
The group stage had a somewhat adjusted format to what we’ve normally seen in North America. Every match that qualified a team for the knockout stage was best-of-3, all others were Bo1.
Group A went relatively straightforward. Gen.G Esports and the new roster of Immortals won their opening games, then played a 3-game set which ultimately went in favour of the French Canadians. Somewhat of a surprise was the poor performance of Rise, who dropped out of the event with two straight losses. This led to a final best-of-3 between beastcoast and Immortals, which turned into a contest between two huge fraggers. Diondre "YaBoiDre" Bond and Andrew "ShoT UP" Orlowski was a showdown for the ages, with each desperately trying to push their team over the finish line. In the end, it was the more well-rounded play of Immortals and ShoT UP ultimately getting the better of YaBoiDre, along with an unusually poor performance from Jamal "jammyz" Bangash, that won Immortals their spot in the quarter finals.
Group B began with a shock as Andbox took a 13-8 win off-broadcast over tournament favourites Cloud9 Blue. The trial roster of Complexity also took their opening game over the newly-signed Equinox Esports. This matched up Cloud9 and Equinox in the lower bracket, a match I’m sure Equinox were none too pleased with. Predictably, Cloud9 took the win there. Andbox grabbed the first seed with their win over Complexity, and the trial roster would again fall in the lower bracket as Cloud9 redeemed themselves and qualified for the knockout stage.
On the outside, Group C looks like complete failure for Luminosity Gaming, as they came into the event tipped as having a shot to make a deep run and failed to win a single match. However, one of their key players, Brady "thief" Dever, was out for the day and was replaced by substitute Lucas "fiziq" Blow.
Suffice to say, fiziq’s Reyna was nowhere near as impactful as thief’s.
This left a three-horse race between FaZe Clan, Spacestation Gaming, and Mamba Mode Gaming. Spacestation began really well in their upper bracket final against FaZe, winning the first map 13-10. However, the favoured FaZe brought it back. Zachary "ZachaREEE" Lombardo looked massively improved from previous events, and Andrej "babybay" Francisty was very impactful on Jett. FaZe’s 2-1 win dropped Spacestation to the lower bracket, where they struggled in a 2-0 loss to Mamba Mode. Mamba Mode’s performance was somewhat of a surprise given their performance level leading up to this event, but a good day qualified them for the quarterfinals.
This left what was, on paper, a very weak Group D. T1 struggled to finish off Time In, but ultimately took the game 13-11. This led them to their upper bracket Bo3 against Moon Raccoons, who they beat 13-8 and 13-7. Despite T1’s somewhat shaky performance, new signing Ha "Spyder" Jung-woo played incredibly well, top fragging 2/3 games and pulling off some great highlight plays.
Hosts Renegades had a very poor day and failed to win a match, leading to a lower bracket final between Moon Raccoons and Time In. In the matchup between both the unsigned teams in the event, Moon Raccoons came out on top.
The big shock of the quarterfinals came with Moon Raccoons taking down Gen.G. Shawn "Shawn" O'Riley and Aleksandar "ALEKSANDAR" Hinojosa absolutely tore apart the server. While the first map, Haven, came down to the wire with 6 rounds of overtime, Gen.G were simply outclassed on Ascent. Combined with Andbox’s somewhat expected win over Mamba Mode, we had a semifinal no one would have predicted in Moon Raccoons vs. Andbox.
On the other side of the bracket, Cloud9 and Immortals each took relatively close wins over FaZe Clan and T1 respectively. T1’s firepower issues began to have an impact as they lacked a dominant player to match ShoT UP, and they found themselves eliminated. Ultimately, the result is not much different from what they were getting with their previous roster, and while more practice time will help, it’s certainly not the start they wanted. As for FaZe Clan, they committed the cardinal sin of not shutting down Tyson "TenZ" Ngo. TenZ played the more slippery Jett for the series, and ran rampant, especially on Bind where he completely shut down his counterpart babybay. The other semifinal would be Immortals vs. Cloud9.
Each semifinal turned out to be incredibly close. Moon Raccoons grabbed Haven 13-9, but not before Aaron "b0i" Thao put up one of the best individual performances on a side (defense) that we’ve ever seen, then we moved on to Split. Zander "FIEND" Bates had a massive start, but Jake "POACH" Brumleve turned it around with a huge play on his Viper to change the tide of the game.
Andbox would close Split out, taking the series all the way to game 3. On Bind, Moon Raccoons didn’t look nearly as comfortable, and Andbox would see themselves through to the finals.
The second semifinal was an intriguing matchup between Immortals and Cloud9, both of whom played a similar style. Each team relied on one player to break games open - TenZ for C9, ShoT UP for Immortals. It’s no coincidence that TenZ top fragged on the map C9 won, and bottom fragged on the two they lost. Ultimately, ShoT UP played well, pulling off what was probably the play of the tournament, Amgalan "Genghsta" Nemekhbayar was absolutely crucial to shutting down the star Cloud9 man, and Immortals took the close series 2-1.
Ultimately, the finals weren’t a good stylistic matchup for Immortals. ShoT UP had been the team’s TenZ all tournament, but Andbox were the team that had so successfully shut down TenZ earlier in the event. And they did the exact same on the first map. Bradley "ANDROID" Fodor won practically every single duel he took, and led Andbox to a 1-0 lead after Bind.
On Split, Andbox started off very well. It was 8-4 at the end of their attacking half. ANDROID was playing just as well as he had the previous map. He’d end the series as the best-performing player, with 257 ACS and 1.14 K/D. A few rounds into the second half and Andbox put themselves on match point. The series looked over.
But Immortals made the comeback happen. Clutch after clutch, they dragged themselves back into the game.
Eventually, we were put into overtime. Immortals grabbed the first round off a great opening pick from Jason "jmoh" Mohandessi, but Poach then clutched a 1v2 to keep Andbox in it. A failed push from Immortals through B Garage on their defense meant they had to win their attacking round to stay in the game, and they ultimately could not. It was tight in the end, but Andbox ended as the surprise champions of the Renegades x Nerd Street Gamers VALORANT Invitational.
Final Standings for Renegades x Nerd Street Gamers VALORANT Invitational:
1. Andbox - $6,000 2. Immortals - $3,000 3. Cloud9 - $1,000 4. Moon Raccoons 5-8. Gen.G 5-8. Mamba Mode Gaming 5-8. FaZe Clan 5-8. T1 9-12. beastcoast 9-12. Complexity 9-12. Spacestation Gaming 9-12. Time In 13-16. Rise 13-16. Equinox Esports 13-16. Luminosity Gaming 13-16. Renegades
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