100 Thieves’ Valorant IGL, Brenden ‘stellar’ McGrath, shouted out KOI, Leviatán, LOUD and NRG Esports as teams fans should keep their eyes on going into VCT LOCK//IN, while also talking about his own team’s expectations going into the event in Brazil.
100 Thieves are going into the Valorant Champions Tour LOCK//IN tournament with tempered expectations, like many other teams, according to stellar, who pointed toward the single-elimination format and how any team could be sent home quickly if they come in cold.
His team is slated to face Chinese side Edward Gaming in the first round of the tournament. If they win that match, they will take on either FUT Esports or Rex Regum Qeon in the Round of 16.
“I think in the first round, we’re kind of an overdog,” he said in an interview with Dexerto. “Second round, we’re probably going to be favorites.
“From there, it’s kind of just playing as well as we can. Obviously, we won’t underestimate any of the teams we play. But, hopefully, making it through the “group stage” [making it past the first two rounds] is a good starting point. But like I said, it’s all single-elimination, so you never know what could happen.”
If 100 Thieves do manage to reach the quarter-finals, they could find themselves facing a team like Sentinels or FURIA, who should have the Brazilian crowd on their side.
When asked about the possibility of playing in front of a hostile crowd, stellar said that he would relish the rush of emotions from such an environment.
“It makes it more fun, in my opinion,” he said. “I feel like there’d be more people that show up… I think it just makes it that much more exciting, especially when they’re rooting against you. Gives it a little more of a rush because you wouldn’t really be seen as the favorites in a match like that and I think that’s an exciting environment to play in.”
100T stellar shouts out KOI and other teams ahead of VCT LOCK//IN
Ahead of VCT LOCK//IN, much of the narrative around the tournament seems to be rooted in the format and the rosters with the most hype around them. Some analysts have focused on Fnatic, LOUD, DRX, and NAVI as favorites to make the grand finals.
stellar believes that fans and analysts should keep their eyes on KOI and NRG, as well.
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“KOI looks pretty underrated, and NRG are insane,” he noted. “We’ve scrimmed them, and they’re a nutty team, they’re still really good. They look even better with ardiis, in my opinion. But KOI on paper look really good, at least from what I’ve looked at.”
KOI are coming into the 2023 season with an entirely revamped roster that features the Guild trio of Jose ‘koldamenta’ Herrero, Nikita ‘trexx’ Cherednichenko and head coach André ‘BARBARR’ Möller. Rounding out the team are former Gambit player Bogdan ‘Sheydos’ Naumov, Bulgarian youngster Berkant ‘Wolfen’ Joshkun, and Valorant Champions 2021 winner Patryk ‘starxo’ Kopczyński.
The 100 Thieves captain also pointed towards Leviatán as a team from the VCT Americas league that Valorant fans could be sleeping on ahead of the event.
“Leviatán is the one team I think I’m personally excited to see play,” stellar said. “I think their lineup looks really solid. I think a lot of people talk about NA teams and they don’t rate Leviatán highly enough, in my opinion.”
100T’s preparation for VCT LOCK//IN
With the single-elimination format and the lack of tape on opponents, VCT LOCK//IN teams will be focusing more on their own gameplay than on preparing for specific teams. Because of this, squads at the event might be more willing to play something outside of the box than they normally would.
stellar said his team has made a point to practice against many different agent compositions and shouldn’t be too surprised by anything. Still, different playstyles with new agent picks could throw them off-guard.
“We shouldn’t really get surprised by some things,” stellar said. “Obviously, we might see some Harbors, maybe something even like Phoenix or Viper on weird maps. I don’t think we’ll be surprised by agent picks, [though] maybe playstyles with those characters might be a little bit different. Like, imagine EDG whips out like a Harbor and double Duelist comp, something like that.”
The 100 Thieves IGL also said that fans might also be treated to a relatively safe tournament meta.
“I feel like it might be more boring than you think,” he said.