The 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour season has officially begun across the world.
Over here in North America, reigning league champions Sentinels will be putting their domestic crown on the line against 11 opposing organizations over the next two months. The top two teams will qualify for the first international event of the year, VALORANT Masters 1, where they’ll take on the best the rest of the world has to offer en route to the world championship this fall.
Every Monday, I will unveil my weekly power rankings for the teams in VCT North America as we move towards the playoffs and the championship final.
After Week 3 of regular season games, here is my hierarchy.
1. Cloud9 (3-0)
Although their incredible Breeze record was a bit tarnished with an upset from Evil Geniuses, they kept their overall record spotless with a 2-1 match victory.
2. Version1 (3-0)
V1 dropped their first map of the season in a nail-biter with NRG Esports. They eventually came out on top with an instant classic on Icebox to keep atop Group B. The real season starts next week, though, as their final two matches with a red hot Optic Gaming and the defending champions Sentinels will tell us how good this side really is.
3. The Guard (3-0)
After having his Twitter DMs overlooked by Tier-2 teams in the offseason, Trent “trent” Cairns might be the most valuable player in the VCT through the first three weeks of the season. Behind trent and his heroics, the rest of the team have been firing on all cylinders, taking down XSET in a statement game to lock a spot into the playoffs.
4. Optic Gaming (2-1)
OK, so maybe they were sleepwalking through Week 1. Since their opening weekend loss to Rise, Optic have been as good as any team in the league. A win against V1 in their upcoming matchup would turn an 0-1 start into the No. 1 position in Group B.
5. Sentinels (2-1)
Sentinels couldn’t pull off the hat trick. Following two weeks of the reigning domestic champions dropping the first map in a series before pulling off the 2-1 reversal, it looked like the script was going in a similar direction versus Optic. They’ll need to improvise something new in their next series with Rise if they want to lock down a playoff spot.
6. XSET (1-2)
It has been a rough schedule so far for XSET in Group A. They started with a thrashing of Evil Geniuses before falling in close sets to the undefeated sides of Cloud9 and the surging Guard. They’re better than their record shows and could be a dark horse to take it all if they can shore up some of their play that saw some winnable rounds go a different way in their two losses.
Don’t give up on XSET. They’re still good.
7. Luminosity Gaming (2-1)
LG are one of the more interesting teams through the first three weeks of the season. They have a positive overall score of 2-1 but also a negative round differential. None of their players are in the top 15 of Average Combat Score. In every game, it seems like a new player steps out to be the hero when others struggle to find their shot.
As I’ve said in previous rankings, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whereas some teams lack firepower, LG have players at every position who can put up big numbers if needed. If their carry players can find consistency and get a bit more seasoning, Luminosity could be a real threat when playoffs roll around.
8. NRG Esports (0-3)
I might get lambasted for this pick, but I don’t care. NRG are a good team. They pushed Sentinels to the brink and then did the same to V1. The latter needed some dark magic from Erik “penny” Penny to secure the match win. We’ve reached the part of the rankings where every remaining team has substantial holes that need to be fixed if they want to make it to masters. So, I’m going with the team I trust the most.
If a few rounds go differently, we’re looking at NRG with a 2-1 record, wins over Sentinels and V1, and questions on whether they could be flying to Iceland to represent North America against the world.
9. Pittsburgh Knights (1-2)
Teams keep taking these guys to Ascent, and every time, the Knights keep making them look like fools. It’s like bringing the Hamburglar to McDonald’s — what the hell are you doing?
Anyways, the Knights have ramped up their play from Week 1, when they got flattened by V1. The next match is almost a must-win against NRG Esports, with the playoffs most likely on the line. If NRG bring them to Ascent, they get what they deserve.
10. Rise (1-2)
Rise limped through the qualifiers to the VCT but shocked everyone with their Week 1 upset of Optic Gaming. Since that triumph, however, the two teams have switched lives, with OG going on a rampage in their next two matches and Rise looking lifeless in their two losses to V1 and the Knights. They’ve been outscored in rounds 52-29 their last two matches and need another big win over Sentinels to keep themselves in a playoff spot.
11. 100 Thieves (0-3)
After a whirlwind of removals, additions and Mickey Mouse tournaments, the week for 100 Thieves ended in a disappointment with a 1-2 loss to Luminosity. This puts them one misstep away from elimination. Unlike fellow winless side NRG, who have already played the most challenging teams in their group, 100T will now be playing a hungry XSET team looking to end their mini-slump in style.
If they can’t beat them, their spring VCT season is over, and it will be months until they have a chance at redeeming themselves. It’s not a situation any team would envy at the moment.
12. Evil Geniuses (0-3)
It has been a rough season for EG, a negative round differential of 35 sitting with them after three weeks of regular season play. While playoffs might be out of grasp at this point, they could play spoiler to The Guard in Week 4 as they look to keep their undefeated run going.
[Disclosure: Luminosity Gaming is a subsidiary of Enthusiast Gaming, which owns and operates Upcomer.]