There’s a lot to look forward to in the third stage of the VALORANT Champions Tour. Teams will test their mettle on a new map in Breeze, with virtually every region competing for additional spots in the expanded format at VCT Masters Three Berlin.
Ahead of the first Challengers events for the third stage of VCT, Dot Esports’ VALORANT writers (the VAL PALS) got together to discuss their predictions and expectations.
Which team will have a breakout performance in VCT Stage Three?
Andreas: Expectations are high for tier-one teams that failed to qualify for Masters Two Reykjavík. And watching from the sidelines definitely put a chip on their shoulders. But I’m more interested in the tier-one gatekeepers, specifically XSET. They’ve always been able to take out top teams, like Envy, FaZe, Immortals, and Version1. With the addition of veteran IGL dephh, the squad may finally have the right pieces to make a run for Masters Three Berlin. And if not, they can always play spoiler for another team.
Jalen: Cloud9 Blue made an impressive run during VCT Stage Two and secured a spot in the NA Challengers Finals. They only lost against Sentinels and Version1, which were the two teams that eventually made it to Iceland. Cloud9 Blue beat notable teams like Envy, NRG Esports, and Andbox and proved they can compete with the best in the region. If Cloud9 Blue can slightly improve in Stage Three, they can easily earn a spot in Berlin.
Jerome: I’m hoping G2 Esports make a resurgence in Stage Three. A recent roster reshuffle has transformed the team, linking up Mixwell and Pyth with former Team Heretics players nukkye and AvovA, and Acend player koldamenta. On paper, the new G2 could be a superteam in the making. In reality though, to become the next big thing in Europe, they’ll have to find the right chemistry, which is never going to be easy in a team stacked full of star players. But it’s certainly possible.
Scott: I think we see a return to form for TSM in Stage Three. Whether brax remains in the starting lineup, I think there’s more than enough talent on the team to compete at the top level of North America and earn a Masters Three Berlin spot. Chet has a proven track record from coaching CS:GO, and he’s already making improvements with better structure and more agent variability from players like WARDELL.
Which “top” team is going to fall off in VCT Stage Three?
Andreas: Envy have been one of NA’s most consistent teams since their inception. But they’ve lost four of their last six matches and missed out on a trip to Iceland. With rumors circulating of a potential roster change, Envy’s future is a bit muddled at the moment. While they have the talent and experience to make a comeback and dominate the competition, they can just as easily trend in the opposite direction. If Envy do struggle a bit in VCT Stage Three, it won’t be for long.
Jalen: FaZe Clan are still considered a top-five team in North America but have failed to perform since the Masters One tournament. FaZe made it through every team in Masters One but were defeated by Sentinels twice. The team failed to qualify for the Challengers Finals in Stage Two and were sent home by T1, a team most fans overlook. If FaZe cannot bounce back early in Stage Three and adjust their ‘’Smeag” style, they will likely fade further down the leaderboards and watch another event from home.
Jerome: Team Liquid disappointed me at VCT Masters Reykjavík. They were one of the favorites going into the tournament but ended up bombing out in the lower bracket. ScreaM and Jamppi proved they were mechanically gifted, but the team as a whole left much to be desired. They couldn’t fully grasp the meta and failed to adapt throughout the tournament. If Liquid continue down this path, they could easily fall out of contention in Stage Three.
Scott: Unless Liquid make some drastic changes, the rest of Europe is going to catch up to them. Their biggest issue is adapting to the meta and utilizing agents like Omen and Astra instead of Brimstone. Brimstone is great on Bind, but Bind was one of the least played maps at Masters and at the EMEA Challengers Finals, and against teams running Astra, Liquid looked lost. Reliance on unreal output from ScreaM isn’t going to be enough with so many teams reloading and bringing new strats to the table.
Which team will thrive the most on Breeze?
Andreas: The post-plant meta might take a hit in Patch 3.0 due to increased ability prices and KAY/O’s suppression. But one team has proven they can adapt to anything, like a last-minute roster swap or an international competition that boasted the best of the best. Sentinels will thrive the most on Breeze, using their tactical aggression to throw off opposing squads with ease and mechanics to take advantage of long sightlines. They’re (currently) the best team in the world for a reason.
Jalen: Fnatic finished in second place in Iceland and have one of the most well-rounded teams in the world. They have the technical prowess to succeed in almost any situation, and Breeze’s unique layout shouldn’t be a problem. Boaster himself said the team has excellent strategies and plays, and they have likely already developed several exciting and clever plans for Breeze.
Jerome: It has to be Sentinels. Breeze is perfectly suited to players with a background in Counter-Strike. It has wide-open spaces and long site lines, resembling maps like Nuke and Dust II. Because it’s such a big map, aim and positioning will be crucial—and that’s something Sentinels already have down to a tee.
Scott: Sentinels and Version1 looked to have mastered the art of post-plants, using Sova and Viper lineups to punish opponents trying to retake sites. Even with less time to prepare compared to the rest of NA, both teams left a lasting impression on other regions just by their post-plants. If any team is going to have the most success finding the most unique ones on Breeze, I would definitely wager my money on either of these two. I can also see both Fnatic and 100 Thieves looking strong on Breeze to start Stage Three.