The 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour season is upon us and the North America groups have been revealed. So, of course, it’s time to look at the juiciest match-ups coming our way in the next five weeks of the group stage, starting on Feb. 11.
North America started the professional VALORANT scene strong, with some of the teams showing promise to one day be the best in the world. But, there were doubts, and some expected EMEA to continue their reign from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Sentinels quickly shut the doubters up by winning VCT Masters 2: Reykjavík, but then fizzled out at Masters 3: Berlin and Champions. Still, Sentinels remain one of the stronger North American teams, so it’ll be especially interesting to see if they can climb back to the top.
Sentinels vs. OpTic
Let’s start the NA VCT 2022 discussion with the low-hanging fruit. Sentinels and OpTic (formerly known as Team Envy) both proved themselves on the international stage – Sentinels by winning Reykjavík and OpTic by reaching the Berlin final. Sure, their more recent results have left something to be desired, but the two North America powerhouses still have a habit of causing fireworks when they pop off.
With star duelists like Sentinels’ Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and OpTic’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, the two teams are home to some absolute world-class fraggers. The question for these teams is whether they can rise back to the strong form we know they are capable of after their early exits at Champions (neither survived the group stage).
Sentinels and OpTic will meet each other in the VCT 2022 group stage in Week 3.
Cloud9 vs. 100 Thieves
The North America VCT 2022 season begins with a bang. Cloud9 and 100 Thieves will duke it out as the very first match-up on Friday, Feb. 11. The last time these two teams met in VCT, it was in the Last Chance Qualifier. Back in October of 2021, Cloud9 eliminated 100 Thieves in the lower final, ending their season while C9 went on to beat Rise in the final to qualify for Champions.
100 Thieves, who we saw compete at Masters 3: Berlin, will probably want revenge. With two new players on the roster in Hunter “BabyJ” Schline from FaZe Clan and Adam “ec1s” Eccles from Ninjas in Pyjamas, 100 Thieves have taken serious measures in order to bring home the glory in 2022.
Both teams had a reasonable end to the season, with Cloud9 reaching Champions and 100 Thieves reaching top four at Masters 3: Berlin. Still, it’s been a while since then, and there’s no telling who will come out stronger between the two North American VCT titans.
The Guard vs. XSET
XSET have a history with many teams in the VCT, so any of their matchups are bound to have an interesting storyline. But even newcomers The Guard have experience facing XSET. During the qualifiers for VCT 2022, XSET knocked The Guard to the lower bracket, but the fresh roster still made it to the main event over Akrew. Then, just days ahead of the season’s start, The Guard took down XSET in the Nerd Street Gamers 2021 Winter Championships group stage.
As a new roster, the biggest question is whether The Guard will be able to keep up with the established teams in the North American VCT. Their rematch against XSET will show whether they can build up momentum. Before that match-up, The Guard will face Luminosity Gaming and 100 Thieves, so they’ll go through a trial by fire.
But, qualifying in a region like NA is no small feat, so The Guard are not likely to be pushovers in VCT 2022. With Trent “trent” Cairns’ sudden explosion onto the scene, with just smaller tournament experience under his belt, the debutants may surprise us all.
OpTic vs. NRG Esports
Let’s be honest, we’re all watching this match-up to see the Pujan “FNS” Mehta vs. Sam “s0m” Oh match go down. The two players are veterans in the scene and known to be good friends, often seen playing together. With constant banter going back and forth between the two, fans are advised to keep Twitter open during and after this battle.
If @s0mcs passes me in the rankings, so help me god…
— OpTic FiNESSE (@FNS) January 24, 2022
Not only are OpTic and NRG two teams that will likely perform fairly well, but seeing them play each other with rosters comprised of experienced players is going to be (hopefully) a feast for the eyes. OpTic and NRG play each other in Week 2 of the North America 2022 VCT season.
Version1 vs. Rise
Also happening in Week 2 is Version1 vs. Rise. Version1, of course, surprised everyone by qualifying for VCT Masters 2: Reykjavík, but failed to make a LAN after that. Meanwhile, Rise nearly made it to Champions in the Last Chance Qualifier by going through the likes of FaZe Clan, Cloud9 and 100 Thieves, only to fall in the final, in the rematch against Cloud9.
The question on many fans’ mind is whether Rise’s run through the LCQ was a fluke. But now, having qualified for the main event, Rise have made the first move in shutting up the doubters. Come Feb. 11, they will be put to the test for the long haul. Their first match-up is against the Knights, who many do not expect to survive in the stacked Group B. But, Version1 vs. Rise is not just a rematch from the first open qualifier; it is also the first big game that Rise will play in the 2022 VCT main event.