The Valorant Champions Tour is well underway with four teams earning their spot for the Masters tournament in March after finishing as the top four teams in the second Challengers open qualifier.
Eight teams will ultimately qualify for Masters, with the next four qualifying after the third Challengers open qualifier, which will be broadcast by Nerd Street Gamers this weekend. Here is a glance at what each of the first four teams to qualify have done to earn their spot for Masters.
In the first closed qualifier, Team Envy were knocked out of qualifiers by XSET, and ended up taking fifth place overall. Then, they surprised fans when they came into the second closed qualifier with renewed determination, and some new tricks up their sleeves. They stayed in the upper bracket the entire time and dropped only two maps the entire tournament run.
Going into the grand final, they automatically started one map ahead because they were in the upper bracket. Team Envy made quick work of Sentinels due to their one map lead, and ended the match after only two maps played. On Haven, they won 13-9, and easily won on Split 13-3.
“[Sentinels] was a hell of a team to have to play against. Really it was a 2-0 because we had a one map advantage coming in from the upper bracket. Didn’t lose a match the entire Challengers tournament. Had to be pretty flawless there to beat a team like Sentinels, but we’re the captain now in North America,” said Team Envy’s chief gaming officer Michael “Hastr0” Rufail in a Twitter video posted shortly after the match.
Victor “food” Wong impressed fans this tournament with his sneaky tactics and his ability to swing disadvantages into clutch wins. Both food and Austin “crashies” Roberts started their VALORANT careers with T1 before moving to Envy in September.
Sentinels have been a force to be reckoned with since the creation of their VALORANT team. Stacked with former CS:GO and Overwatch stars, this team climbed through the ranks quite easily to secure themselves the top spot in the first Challengers closed qualifier.
Surprisingly, Sentinels fell early in the second closed qualifier to Team Envy, who clutched out a 2-1 victory. They then had to claw their way out of the lower bracket, only to fall to Team Envy again in the finals 3-0.
Sentinels have been thriving in the VCT’s lower bracket so far. During the first Challengers open qualifier, they worked their way up the lower bracket to ultimately take first place.
There are still talks about Sentinels being the strongest team in NA, even though they lost to Envy. They have a star-studded lineup with Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, Hunter “SicK” Mims, Jay “sinatraa” Won, Jared “zombs” Gitlin and Michael “dapr” Gulino.
Sinatraa achieved almost every possible award with the Overwatch League’s San Francisco Shock before switching to Valorant just after he was awarded MVP of the latest OWL season.
ShahZaM has also impressed fans and opponents alike after coming over from CS:GO. While CS:GO fans might describe him as just OK, he has been doing very well since entering the Valorant space, coming in clutch so often that it’s impossible to take his name off of the list when talking about the best players in the league so far.
Immortals seem to be improving as time goes on. Their performance throughout Challengers so far has been solid. In the first closed qualifier, Immortals were in the upper bracket for the entire competition until they lost to Sentinels 3-1.
In this weekend’s tournament, they didn’t have a better run than last tournament, but it was still a good effort in the face of many challenging teams. They opened with an easy 2-0 against Gen.G, beat Luminosity 2-1 and then ultimately fell to the champions, Team Envy in a close 2-1 match. They couldn’t beat Sentinels to get out of the lower bracket, but they still are locked in as one of the teams to advance to Masters.
The newest members of the team, Nicholas “NaturE” Garrison and Rhett “Kehmicals” Lynch, have both proven to be valuable additions. In the match against Luminosity, Immortals were down 1-0, but NaturE and Kehmicals made sure that the team earned their victory, and carried the team through Ascent and Bind to secure the reverse sweep and a spot at Masters.
XSET are fairly new to the world of esports. Their organization was founded in 2020, and they started forming teams in Rocket League, PUBG, VALORANT and, most recently, Rainbow Six. The talent they signed was also fairly unknown to most esports fans, but they came out of the gate swinging and have also earned their spot at Masters.
They opened the second closed qualifier losing 0-2 to Team Envy, which dropped them to the lower bracket. XSET ran it back, beating FaZe Clan and Luminosity before falling to Sentinels.
Sentinels have given XSET quite a bit of trouble throughout Challengers. In the first Challengers closed qualifier, XSET were also kicked out of the tournament by the NA powerhouse.
Like Immortals, XSET are consistently improving and scoring better and better in tournaments as time goes on. If they can work out the kinks, and figure out their weaknesses, XSET might be one of the scariest teams at Masters.
Four more teams will qualify for Masters
Luminosity, 100 Thieves, FaZe Clan and Gen.G are the four teams that have already qualified for the third and final Challengers closed qualifier. They will be joined by four more teams that will be determined through the open qualifier taking place this weekend.
The third closed qualifier takes place March 4-7, and the top four teams will qualify for the Masters tournament, which kicks off March 13.
Lead image credit: Riot Games