VCT Version 1 BBG Cloud9
Image via @builtbygamers

The North American portion of the VALORANT Champions Tour returns Thursday April 8 with VCT Stage 2 Challengers 1. The first tournament of Stage 2 already has some hype around it as the three best teams from Stage 1–Sentinels, FaZe Clan and Gen.G–failed to qualify. This leaves the field open for many of the old teams to claim their spots as the top dogs. The new teams also now have a chance to make a name for themselves.

Version1 and BBG join VCT Stage 2 Challengers 1

The two teams that beat out Sentinels and FaZe will also make their debut on the VCT stage. Version1, formerly known as Never Done, are an eclectic team with Counter Strike experience. The team’s in-game leader, Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, was a part of the Choas Esports roster with 100 Thieves’ IGL Joshua “steel” Nissan and Cloud9’s Nathan “leaf” Orf. Both Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro and Erik “penny” Penny were also previously on Counter Strike teams. Version1 are a decent squad that were only barred from previous Challengers events by FaZe and TSM. They also sport two former Gen.G players, Keven “PLAYER1” Champagne and Loic “effys” Sauvageau.

BBG are cut from the same cloth as they were unable to qualify for any Stage 1 events; more established squads kept them out. The team is led by former Andbox IGL Jake “POACH” Brumleve, who routed Sentinels 2-0 to qualify for the tournament.

Can Envy fill the void

As the only top four team from Masters 1 left in the field, Envy have a chance to claim the title as the best team in North America once again. They beat Sentinels in the Grand Finals of Challengers 2 just two months ago, but they had a disappointing run at Masters. They dropped series against a red-hot FaZe and Gen.G to leave the event at fourth. Envy look to be back in form from their qualifying run. Now, they only have to worry about teams that they have beaten in bracket before.

The team has a winning record against Immortals and XSET. The only other Challengers 1 squad that theoretically pose a threat to Envy is 100 Thieves. However, the two teams only played once because 100 Thieves usually bow out of events before Envy has a chance to take them on.

Cloud9 finally qualify for a VCT event

Cloud9 has had a rough go in the VCT era. Since Tyson “TenZ” Ngo stepped down and was loaned to Sentinels, Cloud9 has failed to reach the same highs as they had before. In the Ignition and First Strike eras, the team was generally fighting for top four spots or at least to be in the events. Now, Cloud9 are finally in a VCT tournament after multiple roster moves. The squad now has Mitch “mitch” Semago as its IGL and they brought over Son “xeta” Seon-ho from Korea to play an Initiator role.

Cloud9 took a tight series against Gen.G to qualify. They went to overtime on Icebox  14-12 and then took the win 13-5 on Ascent. The team looks cohesive and, after the many role and agent swaps, they may be able to make a deep run at Stage 2 Challengers 1.

Declan McLaughlin
Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Daily Esports. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him in at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter @DickyMclaughlin