VCT Challenger Playoffs are just around the corner, and teams like Envy, Xset, TSM, and Sentinels are all poised to compete for NA’s three open spots for Masters Berlin.
Eight teams are locked in the VCT Challenger playoffs. Once again, teams will compete for regional dominance and a shot at regional competition. Masters Berlin and its three open qualification spots, are looming over the teams in this qualifying tournament. Unlike the last Masters event, Masters Berlin will not only feature more teams, but more VCT points at stake. For any teams hoping to make Champions, qualifying for this event will be integral. With Version1 falling out early, North American audiences will also get to see at least two new representatives make their international debut.
Sentinels are undoubtedly favorites to make a run to Berlin. Time and again, Sentinels have proven themselves as the best squad in the world, but who else could make the cut and potentially stand up to these behemoths? Several teams have made early claims, but here are the teams most likely to impress.
Envy - The new 'super' team making their VCT Challenger Playoffs debut
In the past, Envy have shown glimpses of greatness but have largely failed to maintain success. The performances of Victor "Victor" Wong and Austin "Crashies" Roberts have driven the team, but Envy's ambitions are clearly higher. Envy have gradually added high-grade talent to their roster, such as Jimmy "Marved" Nguyen and more recently, Jacob "Yay" Whiteaker. After adding Marved, Envy showed some impressive growth in Challengers 1 and theoretically, with more time to mesh and the infusion of new talent, Envy could poise a threat to the top teams in North America.
Perhaps most important for Envy's case is the consistency of their two longest standing members. Crashies, Victor, and Marved all landed within the top fifteen players of Challengers 1 in terms of overall rating. Crashies specifically impressed, averaging a 1.03 K/D and 67% ESR. This new iteration of the Envy squad will immediately be tested however, as they find themselves on a difficult side of the bracket, facing TSM initially and potentially Sentinels in the quarter-finals. Envy may have problems similar to FaZe Clan in their early months, as so much individual talent could hinder the squad in the short-term.
TSM - Wardell & friends bringing heat
The one benefit of failing to qualify for the VCT Challenger playoffs the first time around is the extra practice and the potential momentum given by a second round of qualifiers. After their stellar performance in Challengers 2, TSM may be the hottest team coming into the VCT Challenger playoffs. TSM won four impressive series against several tugh opponents such as Gen.G, T1, Luminosity Gaming and FaZe Clan. The key to TSM's recent success is the cohesion between the 'old guard' and the younger faces.
Matthew "Wardell" Yu specifically has greatly increased his level of play. Once, Wardell was the undisputed best Jett player in VALORANT esports but he had fallen off over time. However he is making another claim for the throne. In his last two events, Wardell found a 74% ESR with 94 more kills than deaths in entry duels. In an age where the likes of Tyson "TenZ" Ngo and Andrej "Babybay" Fancisty have dominated the role, Wardell has made a resurgence as the best entry fragger. With all players showing up big in their last tournament, TSM seem sure to make a solid run. Should Wardell and the younger players maintain their consistency, TSM could be a contender to represent NA in Berlin.
Xset - Giant slayers in the VCT Challenger playoffs
Xset shook up the Challenger 1 brackets, upsetting both 100 Thieves and Sentinels. Most notably, Xset snapped Sentinel's long winning streak, maintained since Masters Reykjavik, in a 2-1 series. Bryce "PureR" Lovell has quickly risen the ranks as a top duelist, finding a 1.14 K/D, .80 KPR, and 222 overall frags. Other longtime members, Brendan "BcJ" Jensen and Jordan "Ayrin" He were also integral to Xset's upset run.
Similar to Envy, Xset in the past have seen moments of unsustained brilliance. Xset seem to find themselves on a 'favorable' side of the bracket, only when compared to their most recent feats. Many VALORANT personalities and analysts have hyped up this Xset roster, and they very well could be one of NA's three representatives in Berlin.