Now that the qualifiers are over it’s time to look ahead to the first main event of the Valorant NA Stage 1 Challengers. Challengers stage Rather than jumping straight into a double-elimination bracket, the qualifying teams will battle in a round-robin group stage for the first time. The bracket is confirmed later in the playoffs, with the seeding decided by the group stage results.
This event features an interesting mix of teams, including some of last year’s best teams we haven’t seen since, some groups we’ve seen a lot of during the VCT 2021 campaign, and some new squads that emerged during the open qualifiers.
Top Dogs is making a comeback in NA Stage 1 Challengers
Cloud9 had some of the most outstanding team performances at Champions, despite making the most recent change. While both Sentinels and OpTic (previously Team Envy group )’s stage exits at Champions were unexpected. They’re still the same teams that ran wild over both North American and international competition in 2021. 100T’s first official match since losing to C9 at the LCQ in October. A new 100T lineup will make its debut in Challengers. They still have Hiko and Ethan, as well as Asuna, who is one of the game’s most deadly duelists, but the newcomers BabyJ and ec1s will have a lot to prove in the initial games themselves.
The favorites for the playoffs
Both XSET and V1 looked impressive in the first open qualification, qualifying for Challengers as the top two teams. They did it without losing a series, and V1 did it without Losing a map throughout the Qualifiers. Both teams have thrived since the additions of V1’s Zander and XSET’s Cryocells. They should continue to do so during the Challengers season.
The Rise was one of the hottest teams at the LCQ. But they ate a few tough losses during their open qualification run. Eventually reaching the main event in the final round of matches. They haven’t participated in any other tournaments since the LCQ. It’s clear they need to shake off some more rust.
New dogs are on the rise in NA Stage 1 Challengers
The Guard formed in November and only completed its lineup with Trent Cairns’ joining in January. Nevertheless, in the short time they’ve been with, this new group has looked fantastic, with Trent, Valyn, and JonahP notably excelling. Many people overlooked Evil Geniuses after their announcement. But no one seemed to be shocked to see YaBoiDre put up some impressive stats after switching from duelist to a Sova/Chamber mix.
Both the Knights and the Luminosity are fielding fairly untested lineups with very little VCT experience. At least when compared to the other teams in the NA Stage 1 Challengers. It will be hard, but not impossible. Any of them to finish in the top four of their respective groups.