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VCT Stage 3 NA Challengers 1 - Everything you need to know

Written By    TheRussianEwok  -  share on

Last weekend Stage 3 kicked off around the world with the qualifiers taking place in North America for this week’s Challengers 1 tournament.

This qualifier acts as the first step on the way to qualifying for Stage 3's Berlin Major and the first real test for a number of refreshed teams including T1, Luminosity Gaming, Evil Geniuses, and Immortals.

Qualifier

With the qualifier being a single-elimination best-of-three map open bracket, a number of big name teams all met in knockout matches during the Round of 32 as we got our first proper look at a number of new lineups.

One such game saw Sentinels -- the best team in the World -- face Evil Geniuses who recently added three new members after a number of very weak showings this year. While this game (which was played off-stream) was obviously a very tall task for EG to face, it actually started off really well on Icebox with them initially going up 4-2 before being unable to capitalise on an unexpected semi-eco round win to lose their attacks, 5-7.

As they started their defenses, Sentinels then won five rounds running to put them on map point which they took six rounds later. Map two was less close as a particularly impressive performance from Tyson "TenZ" Ngo at a 1.74 Rating ended the game in an expected 2-0 scoreline.

Following this, Sentinels faced the Australian Soniqs lineup in the decider match for the Challengers spot following sQ’s win over the Canadians of Renegades in the RO32.

Once again starting on Icebox, the defensive weakness shown against EG once again reared its head as Soniqs won their half, 8-4. As sides switched Sentinels managed to claw back three rounds running, however, a massive 407 ACS from Chris "pl1xx" Li was too much to overcome leading to a 13-7 scoreline as the Sentinels looked in trouble.

The upset wasn’t to come, however, with this setback being just that as both Bind and Haven ended 13-5 to Sentinels to win the BO3, 2-1. While Bind saw Jared "zombs" Gitlin excel with a 1.53 Rating, TenZ then returned to the top of the leaderboards on Haven going 21-12 as the reigning champions locked their spot into Stage 3: Challengers 1.

This was just one of a number of very close games as the only team to make it through the bracket without losing a map was Sentinels’ counterparts at the Iceland Major of Version1 who took down Luminosity Gaming -- another team which had just added three new players -- in their decider match, 13-8, 13-8.

While they were the biggest success of the qualifier, probably the biggest upset came on behalf of the newly acquired DarkZero Esports roster (previously known as Kooky Koalas) who eliminated FaZe Clan following the announcement of the pickup of Hunter "BabyJ" Schline just two days prior.

This game started on Ascent and saw a frag battle evolve between Corey "corey" Nigra and Andy  "Andersin" Collins which corey came out ahead on both pure numbers, and head to heads. Despite this FaZe wasn’t able to capitalise on the advantage with a key clutch from Kyle "ScrewFace" Jensen taking the game to overtime where a single offensive win gave DZ the map.

FaZe fought back on Haven as they were clearly the better team here. A 3.2KD from Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty and a 2.33KD from BabyJ meant after recovering from an initial pistol round loss, FaZe racked up 12 rounds in a row in a complete lockout.

Finally, the game came to Icebox where they were once again seemingly neck and neck throughout. While leads were traded back and forth in batches of two -- from 3-1, to 5-7, to 9-7 etc. -- before DZ broke the pattern on round 18 in a truly hectic round in which FaZe committed everything and still fell short.

While DZ closed it out 13-10 to complete the upset against FaZe, they then themselves fell short against XSET in the decider match in a 9-13, 13-10, 9-13 scoreline as they failed to qualify for Challengers 1. Nevertheless, with them only moving to their Las Vegas-based team house a matter of weeks ago, this is a good start for the roster.

Finally of note, two more key upsets also happened as Noble took down TSM FTX, and Envy eliminated T1.

Starting with this TSM game, after picking up bang last month they were clearly hoping to at the very least qualify for the Challengers Finals which they fell short of during Stage 2. Nevertheless, in their first notable game since this pickup they went out in what statistically seemed like a tight game as, after a 13-10 Noble win on map one, a TSM 13-1 win was cancelled out by a 2-13 loss.

Since this loss, TSM has already made a change announcing that Taylor "drone" Johnson -- the team’s Sova player -- has been benched.

And so, that leaves T1 who entered the qualifier with two new players including Braxton "Brax" Pierce who returns to the lineup after three months on TSM. Here after a rocky map one they took down Ghost Gaming to meet Envy in the decider map which, in a reversal of their prior game, saw them pretty handily take map one, only to lose maps two and three, 13-10, 13-0.

As well as being a disappointing defeat, this final map saw T1’s best performer achieve just a 0.81 Rating while Anthony "mummAy" DiPaolo secured 19 kills to three deaths in a virtual demolition as T1 leaves with serious questions surrounding their ability on Haven.

Challengers 1

These results mean that the eight teams of Sentinels, XSET, Envy, 100 Thieves, Version1, Gen.G Esports, Rise, and Kansas City Pioneers have progressed to the double-elimination Challengers 1 event which will run from Thursday to Sunday this week.

Here the top four teams will progress onwards to the Challengers Playoffs to fight for a Major spot while the remaining four get an automatic invite to the Challengers 2 tournament at the end of the month.

The schedule for this will be as follows:

  • Thursday, 8th -- The Upper Bracket Quarter Finals and Lower Bracket Round 1
  • Friday, 9th -- The Upper Bracket Semi Finals and Lower Bracket Round 2
  • Saturday, 10th -- The Upper Bracket Final, Lower Bracket Round 3 and the Lower Bracket Final
  • Sunday, 11th -- The Grand-Final

THESPIKE.GG will cover these games as usual this coming week as Stage 3 kicks into gear with its first main event. Check back here to see the usual news and stats coverage of the games as they come.

Comments

the only thing i have conducted from this is -potter
2021-07-08 03:32

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