Written By generic_eric24 - 2021-04-25
Heading into Stage 2 of Challengers 2 for the North American side of things, there were plenty of storylines that were enticing. Would Sentinels be able to secure top 8 in order to make a run for Iceland? How would Ricky "floppy" Kemery in his first official event transitioning from CSGO to Valorant? Could TSM finally break through in 2021 after their early dominance during 2020? This was the last chance to have any chance to qualify for the first Masters LAN in Iceland at the end of May, let's get into how things played out.
The first match of the tournament was Cloud9 Blue taking on slow paced strategic gameplay of T1. C9B was able to use the excellent Sova play of Son "xeta" Seon-ho to win the series in 2-0 fashion. During Icebox, Cloud9 was able to secure 10 rounds on their defensive side in order to pull away from T1 for the victory and move on to the Semi-Finals.
In the most surprising match of the event, Andbox would take on heavy favorites Sentinels with a spot in the upper bracket semis on the line. In a shocking result, Andbox was able to take both maps of Haven and Split to send Sentinels to the lower bracket where they would look to keep their magical run alive. As of recent, Adam "mada" Pampuch has been Andbox's best player, and he showed it with this big brain play to secure a 9th round on Haven.
As for the next 2 matches, NRG Esports easily handled Built By Gamers with a very well balanced team effort across both maps. All 5 players would finish with 25+kills and an ACS of or near 200. With Ian "tex" Botsch now the Jett/OP for NRG, it appears that they have finally found the missing piece to the puzzle that will lead them to the promised land.
In the last match of the first round, Immortals with a stand-in of Daniel "Rossy" Abedrabbo playing for Nicholas "NaturE" Garrison took on the rather lackluster team of TSM. Despite having Braxton "Brax" Pierce as their 6th man, they did not use him once in this 3 map series in which they would ultimately lose after a 13-11 Bind map. For Immortals, Andrew "ShoT UP" Orlowski would finish with an eye popping 63 kills while amassing an ACS of 265.
Continuing their dominant run after not losing a map in the first round, Cloud9 Blue would take on Andbox who upset Sentinels. This time, things did not go well for Andbox, as it seemed like Michael "poiz" Possis and Nathan "leaf" Orf had their numbers as the duelists, including this fascinating ace from Leaf.
In the other upper bracket semifinal, NRG took on Immortals with a spot in Challengers 2 on the line. After losing the first map of Icebox rather close in a 13-10 defeat, NRG found a way to decipher the strategy of IMT as they won Ascent 13-9 and Haven 13-4 to close out the series and secure a chance to make it to Iceland. Once again, Tex on the Jett operator proved to be the difference as he would finish with 53 kills across all 3 maps.
With a spot in Challengers 2 already secured, the match between Cloud9 Blue and NRG was solely for seeding purposes. However, it did not appear that anybody told Cloud9, as they would continue to defeat their opponents 2-0. On Haven, after a close back and forth map that ended up in overtime, Cloud9 would secure it 15-13. The second map Icebox went the complete opposite way, as NRG was completely devastated from the very beginning, only winning 2 rounds, with both coming on their attack side.
After getting unexpectedly ousted in the first round to Andbox, Sentinels would go to make an unprecedented run in the lower bracket. As the Masters 2 Champions would prove that they are no easy out, as they would only lose 2 maps on their way to the Grand Finals. The only real challenge that was bestowed on them, was a rematch with their upper bracket victors, Andbox, one in which they would squeeze out a 2-1 series victory.
Finally. The match everybody was wanting. TenZ would finally get to take on his old team in a tournament setting. If you're a fan of storylines in competitive FPS, there was no better storyline potential than this.
In the first map on Bind, a map that neither team had played in the tournament to date, a shocking pick was made by C9B. Poiz decided to go with the Yoru instead of the usual Reyna pick from him. Whatever the plan was with the least used agent in comp play was, did not work out well. As TenZ and Hunter "SicK" Mims on the Reyna-Raze combo had everything going their way, combining for 43 kills to lead them to a 13-4 victory.
On Haven, things did not go much better for C9. It just seemed like they were outclassed, and outsmarted every single round. Despite losing the map 13-6, Nathan "leaf" Orf pulled out the play every fan loves to see, a knife kill. After both players whiffed shots, Leaf strafed in the air to knife Michael "dapr" Gulino for the kill.
After losing both their map picks, the dream of a victory appeared to be ending for Cloud9, heading into Sentinels map pick of Split, they would need to pull out a reverse sweep in order to become the 5th seed during Challengers 2. In the first 7 rounds, C9 could do no wrong, even with a Shorty. But Sentinels came back on attack to win 4 rounds of their own. Just as their opponents did on defense, Sentinels would win the first 6 rounds to take the lead at 10-8. Despite a comeback of their own, it just wasnt enough as Sentinels would go on to win the map in overtime
Final Standings for NA Stage 2 Challengers 2 1. Sentinels - $20,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 2. Cloud9 Blue - $10,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 3. NRG Esports - $7,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 4. Andbox - $5,000 + qualification to NA Challengers Finals 5. Immortals - $3,000 6. TSM - $3,000 7. T1 - $1,000 8. Built By Gamers - $1,000
Challengers 2 matchups
Obviously, the two heavy favorites would have to be 100 Thieves or Sentinels, as both rolled their way through each stage, but in different fashions. We could also see a surprise team come out on top. The top 2 teams from Challengers 2 will head to Iceland to take part in Masters 2, the first Valorant LAN.
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