VCT North America Stage 2 Viewer’s Guide
Stage 2 Challengers will be played in two stages: the Group Stage, followed by the Playoffs. In the former stage, the 12 teams are divided into two groups of six and will play each other once. The top four teams from either group will then advance to the playoffs, which uses a double elimination bracket to determine the two best teams that qualify for Masters.
Our Teams to Watch
The Guard remain the pick of the lot from Group A and there is no reason to believe they cannot perform domestically despite their disappointment at Masters Reykjavik. Barring a dramatic drop in form, the Matthew "mCe" Elmore-led roster will have gained crucial experience from their time in Europe and are expected to be back to their dominant form again.
Alongside them, NRG Esports have looked really good in the first Open Qualifier, completing a clean run which saw them 2-0 the likes of Pittsburgh Knights and a weakened Version1. The addition of Ethan "Ethan" Arnold seems to have worked out well and they look poised to do some real damage to their group counterparts.
Over in Group B few people will be betting against OpTic Gaming, the titans fresh out of an international win at Iceland. Hopefully Pujan "FNS" Mehta and co. can stay a step ahead of the stiff competition around them, unlike Stage 1 Challengers where the squad just about qualified on the last week of groups.
While Cloud9 remain another contender to win the group, the red hot form of FaZe Clan cannot go unstated. Andrej "babybay" Francisty looked far and away the best player in the Open Qualifiers and the roster is playing an exciting brand of VALORANT built around the star man. It is now up to him to maintain that level of dominance against the elite teams in the region, and if they can pull it off, it will be an amazing story to follow.
Opening Weekend Schedule
Friday, May 13th
The Guard vs 100 Thieves at 10:00 PM CET / 1:00 PM PDT
Luminosity Gaming vs Sentinels at 1:00 AM CET / 4:00 PM PDT
Saturday, May 14th
OpTic Gaming vs FaZe Clan at 10:00 PM CET / 1:00 PM PDT
XSET vs Ghost Gaming at 1:00 AM CET / 4:00 PM PDT
Sunday, May 15th
NRG Esports vs TSM FTX at 10:00 PM CET / 1:00 PM PDT
Cloud9 vs Evil Geniuses at 1:00 AM CET / 4:00 PM PDT