by Brandon "Mothman" Moore in
Competitive News Valorant

While there is still one more day of Valorant competition in the NA Challengers Finals, day three is the day everyone has been waiting for. The first day of action saw some incredibly close and intense matches. That was followed by a second day of heart pounding Valorant. Now, the teams representing North America at Masters Reykjavík in Iceland have been decided. The Upper Final, Lower Round 3, and Lower Final were the proving grounds for the four teams remaining in the tournament. Out of Sentinels, Cloud9 Blue, Team Envy, and Version1, only two advanced to the Grand Final. And those two are on their way to Iceland.

NA Challengers Finals: Upper Final

Image via VALORANT Champions Tour NA (Twitter)

Sentinels vs. Cloud9 Blue

Haven

The series to determine the first NA team for Iceland started on Haven. Tyson “TenZ” Ngo immediately grabbed an Ace in the first round. A Flawless round for SEN followed. Cloud9 Blue retaliated once better weapons were on the table. That retaliation was short-lived as Sentinels ended up back in charge with Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan joining TenZ with the frags. A second Ace for Sentinels came through by Hunter “SicK” Mims.

Halftime started with a Sentinels lead and Cloud9 Blue hoping to chip away. A big flank from Mitch “mitch” Semago certainly helped. C9B refused to die, bringing it back to take the lead. Sentinels wasn’t having any of that as they took the lead right back at match point. TenZ shut down a C9 retake with a 4K to give Sentinels the map victory 13:11.

Split

Split began with Cloud9 Blue taking the pistol rounds as mitch continued to perform well. The utility of C9 was too much at the start, as mitch and Son “xeta” Seon-ho stalled pushes with Killjoy and Breach. Cloud9 Blue was hell bent on ruining the Sentinels economy as the first half reached 7:0. The lead extended to eight rounds as Sentinels saved. That save round allowed them to finally put one on the board. A few big 3K rounds by Nathan “leaf” Orf and Michael “poiz” Possis followed by a disgusting Ace from xeta made sure that was all they’d get in the first half.

The second half started with some traded kills. TenZ was the last alive, finding a kill, but ultimately falling as Cloud9 Blue reached map point. Sentinels were unable to buy anything other than Sheriffs as C9 loaded up with weapons and abilities. The opening attack strategy of Cloud9 Blue completely overwhelmed Sentinels. Incredibly, Sentinels only managed to put up one round on Split. C9B forced a trip to Icebox to determine who would go to Iceland.

Icebox

Icebox kicked off with Sentinels taking a small lead. Some solid ultimate usage by Cloud9 Blue started a streak for them even with some great exit frags by ShahZaM. A 3k by poiz brought the rounds to even at four. Another small lead went in favor of Sentinels as the entire team made the plays they needed to. C9 had no problem tying it again with the Duelists stepping up. That saw the first half end 6:6.

The second half opened with a Sentinels pistol round victory. Cloud9 Blue played for retake and Sentinels was prepared, starting their attacking side off with much success. The economic status of Cloud9 Blue was devastated very soon into half two. Sentinels took advantage of that and pushed hard with their more powerful weapons. A wild round saw mitch go for the defuse late and was only .02 seconds away from pulling it off. That gave SEN round 10. A 3K with the knives from ShahZaM and a 3K from SicK pushed them to 11 after a revive came in. C9 could not recover and Sentinels took it 13:6.

Congratulations to Sentinels on being the first team to advance to Masters Reykjavík through NA Challengers Finals!

NA Challengers Finals: Lower Round 3

Image via VALORANT Champions Tour NA (Twitter)

Version1 vs. Team Envy

Split

Split started in favor of Version1, but Team Envy quickly tied it up at two a piece. Some great plays on both ends saw some back and forth sets of rounds. The match saw some big frags from Victor “Victor” Wong and Erik “penny” Penny for their respective teams. A 3K from Anthony “mummAy” DiPaolo with the Operator prevented V1 from pulling too far ahead. Anthony “vanity” Malaspina made sure his team stayed ahead at halftime, however, with V1 up 7:5.

The pistol round of the second half was a very close round that eventually went to Version1. As it often does, that victory lead to yet another. A quick 3K by Victor set Envy up for success, giving his remaining teammates the confidence to take their first round after switching sides. Right-clicks with the knives netted two for mummAy and Envy brought the rounds closer. The pushback wasn’t enough as Version1 put Envy on the heels with a first map victory 13:10.

Haven

Team Envy began Haven in much better spirits than they ended Split. While Version1 managed to take a round, the aggressiveness of Jake “kaboose” McDonald kept Envy on top. Austin “crashies” Roberts grabbed a 3K to bring Envy back into a round that extended their lead. Another round went to V1 and that set up them up nicely to also take a third. Three kills by kaboose gave Envy their eighth, but V1 was able to take their fourth before halftime.

Version1 came out swinging in the second half. Loic “effys” Sauvageau finally stepped it up along with Loic “effys” Sauvageau along with vanity. That saw them tie the rounds at eight. Quickly after, some errors by V1 allowed Envy to take advantage and get the lead once more. A very important round came to V1 off of a vanity 3K that tied it up 10:10. The momentum did not shift with that, though, as mummAy and his Operator put Envy ahead again. A close round brought back the tie as V1 protected the Spike perfectly. Back and forth it went as penny went off with the Blade Storm to take things to overtime.

Team Envy wasted absolutely zero time in taking the first OT round. Victor and the squad aggressively pushed C Site and dropped the members of V1. The next round saw the end of Haven. V1 looked to match NV’s aggression, but it was quickly countered. Team Envy shut down their attacking push to win the map 14:12.

Ascent

Ascent saw a rapid pistol round go to Envy. Three from kaboose led to a Flawless second round. The forcefulness of Envy’s defense was not sustainable as V1 took the third round of the map. Penny showed what he can do on Raze, battling against kaboose, and taking V1 ahead. Naturally, a collateral from mummAy‘s Operator helped Envy even things out. After pulling slightly out in front, V1 forced another tie. That trend continued to see a 6:6 count at the half.

Three kills from vanity started V1 off nicely which was then followed by a 3K from penny. The Version1 train kept on rolling as Maxim “wippie” Shepelev took down three to get his team to 10 rounds. Team Envy was not done yet as Victor and Pujan “FNS” Mehta started to bring them back into the thick of it. That bounce back failed to get them to double digits before Version1 ended up at match point with 12. A big final round saw V1 finish of Envy 13:9 to send them out of the tournament and move on to the Lower Final and C9 Blue.

NA Challengers Finals: Lower Final

Image via VALORANT Champions Tour NA (Twitter)

Cloud9 Blue vs. Version1

Haven

This was it. This series of the NA Challengers Finals determined the second team to represent the region in Iceland. Haven kicked off with some violence. The pistol round was a speedy bloodbath that went to Version1. The next round went in their favor as well. Ricky “floppy” Kemery cleaned them up in the first true buy round, though, to give C9 their first. A 3K and defuse by penny distanced V1 from C9 a bit further. That continued as V1 defended with fervor. C9 managed to prevent a full bleed out, however, and kept the first half to an 8:4 deficit.

A 3K from vanity on their attacking side pistol round kept V1 in charge. An extremely fast Flawless round gave Version1 the big 10:4 lead. A couple of hits onto C site saw one go to Cloud9 Blue and the next go to V1. Match point was easily achieved by Version1 with a Flawless round victory. There was nothing Cloud9 could do to turn the map around. A huge Empress Ultimate by Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro netted him four kills in the final round of Haven, putting V1 up a map after a 13:5.

Ascent

A long opening round of Ascent was finally decided by Cloud9 wiping out V1 and defusing the Spike. The second round saw V1 force their buys, but the third round of the game was not a free one for C9. Version1 actually managed to take it. The third victory for C9 did happen just after. Another save round went in V1’s favor as they refused to let Cloud9 run away with the map. A close round saw floppy as the last player standing to prevent a tie. They carried on with that momentum to a 9:3 lead.

The start of the second half was fairly similar to the first half. V1 took the first two rounds, but Cloud9 Blue was able to win the next. That saw C9 reach double digits on Ascent. A 3K from leaf lit up V1 and brought Cloud9 Blue to their 11th round of the map. C9’s attack strategy flustered the Version1 roster. The entire team pulled their weight to bring it to match point. Some more brutality from leaf set the score at 13:5, forcing yet another third map on the day.

Split

Split started off with a V1 pistol round victory and the following buy. The bonus round saw penny kill three and V1 upgrade their weapons, but Cloud9 Blue overcame the early deaths to win their first round. V1 cleaned up in the following round to push their lead further. Vanity quickly dropped three as they entered B site to further their cause. A 4K from leaf was the response. That was immediately followed by a 3K from leaf. V1 stayed in it, though, as penny got four to at least make it tied at the half. Huge plays by xeta weren’t enough to tie as the halftime saw a V1 lead of 7:5.

Penny continued to light up the scoreboard with a 3K in the pistol round. It wasn’t long before Version1 reached double digits after an effys 4K. The chance of an Iceland appearance for Cloud9 Blue was starting to look exceptionally bleak at this point. The economy of C9 was almost nonexistent a few rounds into the second half. V1 already had 11 rounds before Cloud9 reached their sixth. Match and series point was inevitable. A huge 4K by leaf kept C9 alive for a bit longer. Three from penny once more proved to be the difference maker. 13:7 was the final round count and Version1 is onto Iceland.

Congratulations to Version1 on being the second North American team to qualify for Masters Reykjavík!

Stay tuned to Run It Back as the Valorant Champions Tour approaches Masters Reykjavík!

Brandon is a long time gamer with a passion for writing. Combining the two has been a dream come true. He was Run It Back's official correspondent for First Strike NA and looks forward to covering the North American Valorant scene for a long time.
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