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VCT 2022: NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 recap

VCT 2022: NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 recap

Brandon "Mothman" Moore


NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 was a masterful showing by its victors. What some would consider major upsets took place and only one match did not go to the third map. There are only two weekends left before the playoff bracket is determined. That fact made this a do-or-die week of competition for several teams.

Week 3 showcased a mix and match style of series. There were very close maps, some blow outs, and only two overtime games. Regardless of the outcomes, this weekend was one of the more story-filled and exciting times for NA during the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour.

Read on for a recap of NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 as the Group Stage continues to impress.

VCT 2022: NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 recap

Group A Results

Cloud9 has been deemed the best team in North America since they won the Last Chance Qualifier during the 2021 VCT circuit. That gave them a hefty leg up against Evil Geniuses in Week 3. Many believed the match would be a quick sweep, but EG had other ideas on Breeze. While Cloud9 took them down on Haven 13:5, EG returned the favor with a 13:8 map two. The third map was anything but pleasant for the Geniuses, however. A dominating 13:2 Ascent went to C9 who kept their record blemish free with the win. It is no surprise that Nathan “leaf” Orf and Mitch mitch Semago carried the load with 54 kills each in the series.

C9 was called the favorite for Group A at the start, but now The Guard are making an argument for that label. They took the fight to another powerful squad in the form of XSET. This was arguably the most anticipated match of the weekend and it started on Haven. The Guard finished it off with a solid 13:7 score line. XSET managed to hang in map two for a close 13:11 Bind victory. It all came down to Fracture, where The Guard treated their opponent much like 100T the week prior. XSET were able to get a few rounds, but a 13:3 ending propelled The Guard to another triumph. Of course, this was on the back of Trent “trent” Cairns’ 61/40/19 KDA that netted him Player of the Week honors.

100 Thieves were coming off an intense battle with TSM in the Knights Monthly Gauntlet. While they fell short, it showed promising signs for the newest version of the Thieves. They looked to extend that potential against Luminosity Gaming and finally get a tick in the win column in this year’s VCT. The entirety of LG performed out of their minds to prevent that. On Split, LG took the map 13:9. Moving to Fracture, 100T retaliated by winning with the same final round count. Breeze is where it got interesting. A wonderful 25/17/5 outing by Brandon Michael bdog Sanders allowed LG to fight back in the second half to force overtime. Two OT rounds in a row went to LG and 100 Thieves dropped to three losses without a win to their name.

Group B Results

The Group B side of NA Stage 1 Challengers Week 3 kicked off with the only two map series of the weekend. On paper, Rise was the team many saw taking the 2:0 victory, but in the server, Knights proved that to be an incorrect prediction. With Logan skuba Jenkins having yet another stellar series, Knights kept Rise from reaching double digits in both maps. Ascent has been their map throughout the Group Stage and that didn’t change here. They only gave up one round in the second half, on their defensive side, to take it 13:9. Bind saw them keep Rise to one round less with 13:8 giving them the sweep.

The second Group B match up could also have an argument for the most anticipated bout of the weekend. Sentinels versus OpTic Gaming, the former Team Envy, saw no punches pulled by either team. In a shocking first map, OG stomped SEN 13:2 on Bind without a single player on Sentinels reaching double digit kills. Fracture was close and went in SEN’s favor 13:10 after Jared zombs Gitlin stepped up for 27 frags. OpTic closed things out on Icebox 13:9 to give SEN their first loss of the Stage.

The final Group B match, and final overall match, of the weekend was the closet one in the entirety of the Stage thus far. It started with a hard fought Haven. Overtime was inevitable as the team’s traded rounds in the latter portion. As things reset for overtime, NRG remained composed and finished things 14:12. V1 picked Fracture for the second map, but NRG played it well. They had a killer attacking half, but V1 hung on to take it 13:11. Icebox once again showed why Erik “penny” Penny should no longer be considered underrated. His 28/13/5 KDA helped V1 overcome NRG on another 13:11 map. That allowed V1 to remain the only undefeated team in the group.

Current standings

A look at the current standings indicates some teams clearly locked in and others who are going to have a hell of a time in the final weeks. Only the top four from each group advance to the Playoff Stage, meaning fights for seeding are happening alongside fights for just making it in the first place.

The biggest story comes from 100T. They take on XSET and then EG. They will need to win both and hope that XSET goes down against LG in the last weekend to have a chance. Group B is a bit more open with only one undefeated and one winless roster. There are a ton of scenarios that could see the teams shift around.

Stay tuned to Run It Back as the VCT continues and we start to get a better idea of who may represent their region in international competition!