The first shot at the NA First Strike Qualifiers is over. Sentinels, 100 Thieves, NV and Renegades were the only four teams left standing after the original 128. Now, UMG hosts the second First Strike qualifier, and another 128 teams will try once more to fill in the rest of the Main Event bracket. The teams that need to find a way into the main event are, in my opinion, TSM, C9 Blue, T1 and Gen.G., with the honorable mention of Complexity and Immortals.
My reasoning for each of these teams needing to find a way to the main event is similar and different. All of these teams have had good placings throughout the past few months, and just missed out on their chances the first time around. These are teams that would elevate the Main Event to the best VALORANT tournament we’ve had yet.
TSM is the obvious choice. Considered to be one of if not the best team in North America through the first five months of VALORANT, they fell 2-0 to 100 Thieves in the quarterfinals of the closed qualifier on Saturday. They were expected to clear their way into the Main Event, along with rivals Sentinels who ended up qualifying. That has to sting TSM a bit.
Matthew “Wardell” Yu is one of the best talents in VALORANT currently. His Jett only pales in comparison to TenZ, and nobody else. When he is hitting shots consistently, he’s one of the scariest player to play against. Against 100T, Wardell managed just 13 frags in 28 rounds on Haven, being first blooded 7 times on the map. It doesn’t help his case that he is one of the (rightly-so) biggest trash talkers in the scene.
Wardell and TSM not qualifying for the Main Event would be a travesty in terms of competition, a fabled matchup with Sentinels feels like destiny. TSM must qualify.
Cloud 9 Blue
C9 placed first in the open qualifier, not that it’s too serious given they had already punched their ticket to the closed qualifier. That extra juice didn’t carry over though, as they ended up losing a surprise game to Renegades. The team has a reputation for being “TenZ and Friends”, which albeit is disrespectful to the quality of the other players can sometimes be way too true.
Breaking that reputation would be huge for the players on the team. Not qualifying for the event means they’ll be able to get one more crack as they go straight to the closed qualifier. If they can qualify, they’ll cement themselves as one of the top 4-6 teams in VALORANT, as they’ve shown the flashes but not the consistency.
T1 has had their fair share of ups and downs this year. They were the first organization to really jump head-first into VALORANT. Braxton “Brax” Pierce being the first professional pickup. They ran into issues with Austin “crashies” Roberts and Victor “food” Wong butting heads with Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, eventually leading to the two leaving for NV, who has looked much more consistent than T1.
T1 ran into Sentinels in the quarter-finals, losing 2-1. It’s ultimately been an odd year for T1, who, if they can’t qualify for the Main Event, might feel like they missed out on a lot. This is the last big event of the year, and the first team to jump into VALORANT wants to see their investments pay off. Qualifying would be a huge confidence boost to the org.
Gen.G has also been through a few roster changes. The Canadian team peaked in August, where they pushed TSM to a best-of-three grand final. Since then, they have parted ways with Loic “effys” Sauvageau in favor of Shawn “Shawn” O’Riley, who shined at the NSG closed qualifier. The current roster is a team that should be pushing for semi-finals and finals of big tournaments.
They didn’t fare too well in the First Strike closed qualifier, where they lost back-to-back games against Complexity and T1 to end their event before the playoffs. They can achieve much more than what people might think, as they get underrated because they don’t have the name appeal of a 100 Thieves, T1, Sentinels, TSM or Cloud 9. They can be a top team, and they need to prove it at the next qualifier, where they will have to run the 128 team gauntlet once more.