Valorant First Strike Global Finals: North American predictions - Dexerto
Valorant

Valorant First Strike Global Finals: North American predictions

Published: 28/Nov/2020 16:34

by Andrew Amos

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Hundreds of Valorant teams have been whittled down to eight. However, only one can claim the title of the North American First Strike champions. Who’s set to take the crown? We’ve broken down the best teams ahead of the Global Finals.

Valorant First Strike was Riot’s indication that they’re ready to take the reigns on the hit FPS title’s esports scene. With the dust settling, and a hopeful future set for 2021 in the Valorant Champions Tour, First Strike is the best indication we will get ahead of the circuit next year.

Ahead of the North American leg of the Global Finals, we’ve broken down each and every team and where they sit in our predictions, so you know who to keep an eye on when games kick off on December 3.

First Strike NA predictions

8. FaZe Clan

FaZe Clan were just a couple of rounds away from missing out on First Strike entirely to a Gen.G still looking to find their former glory in the earlier days of Valorant. However, the hybrid CS:GO-Overwatch roster still has plenty to prove at First Strike.

Between the likes of Corey and babybay, there’s a lot of fire power on the FaZe Clan squad. However, their struggles on Future Earth have been with the strat book. If they can overcome that hurdle, there’s a chance FaZe can break into the top four. However, with their first battle up against Sentinels, it’s likely their run will be dashed out quickly.

7. Renegades

Renegades are arguably the surprise package of First Strike. They made it in during the first NSG qualifier, besting Cloud9 in a series many were expecting to be a wash. Making it in the first time around has obviously put all eyes on them.

Despite being the most inexperienced roster at First Strike NA, they’ve shown some hope and promise. However, one has to wonder if their performance was just a flash in the pan. There’s still a lot of legwork Renegades have to put in to be in top four contention, but they’ve done themselves a favor by claiming big scalps along the way.

6. T1

T1, on paper, has always been an incredible Valorant squad. We haven’t really seen that come to fruition yet though. They’ve tumbled out of every tournament they’ve played in earlier than expected, and haven’t really made a splash since the NSG Showdown way back in June.

While Brax has long been considered the star of this roster, Skadoodle has recently looked on fire with the role swap onto Jett. That, combined with the addition of Spyder, who is slowly working his way to the top, makes this T1 roster one to be feared. If they fall out early in First Strike though, questions will have to be raised about why this team has constantly disappointed.

5. Immortals

Immortals are a huge surprise package in North American Valorant. They’re one of the most exciting teams to watch, and they’ve got an incredible story line to go with it. Shanks was a huge performer for them in the UMG qualifiers for First Strike, but he won’t be returning if ShoT_Up is fit and able.

Immortals seem switched on in all departments, but especially with their strats. A huge hats-off has to be given to jcStani, who has been a rock for this team on the Omen. This is also a team that has fed talent to many of the other top teams in NA when you look at Asuna, Dicey, KOLER, and Bjor. Now, it’s time for them to get a result to potentially cement themselves in the top four.

4. 100 Thieves

100 Thieves have looked nothing short of incredible with Asuna and dicey in their ranks. We just spoke about their prowess under Immortals, and they’ve really proven it under the prestigious organization. After a rough start in Valorant, 100 Thieves have really carved out a space for themselves.

It feels like Hiko has finally been able to open up his wings, with Steel fine-tuning the calls to give him and Captain America nitr0 the chance to bring their signature CS:GO fire power to Valorant. On a good day, 100 Thieves can be the number one team in NA – we saw them beat Sentinels in the NSG qualifer – but they need some more time until they’re consistently at the top.

3. Team SoloMid

TSM is more than just the Wardell show now. Sure, the Jett-Operator specialist is still an absolute fragger, but now Wardell can have an off day and it’ll be fine because the likes of Subroza and Hazed will pick up the slack.

One has to remember that TSM is the most decorated team in NA Valorant. Plus, they’re the longest standing core in the scene, having not made a change in over six months. While they’ve been up and down in recent times, their UMG qualifier win is a sure indication that TSM has what it takes to reclaim the number one spot.

2. Team Envy

Envy have impressed far beyond many expected heading into First Strike. The pickups of Food and Crashies from T1 have been worth their weight in gold, elevating an already good lineup into a true title contender. However, it’s been Kaboose that has really risen to the occasion recently, with the flexible duelist topping the ACS charts for his team in the First Strike qualifiers.

The pieces have really started to click on this roster at the perfect time. One only needs to look at their dominant 3-0 sweep of 100 Thieves to claim the #1 seed. It feels like Envy are a real contender to Sentinels’ crown

1. Sentinels

And now we’re here, at number one. It’s been pretty much undisputed for months now, but Sentinels are by in large the number one team in North American Valorant. Much like TSM, their mantra has been sticking together through thick and thin, and it has netted results. Their 83% win rate across 52 maps speaks volumes to their dominance.

Everything in the Sentinels roster just fits perfectly. Sinatraa is well on his way on becoming a two-game MVP with his incredible Valorant skills. Former Complexity CS:GO star SicK has also been a standout performer, and the team as a whole has the flexibility to dive into a deep strat book to surprise enemies. They’ve done the hard yards to get here, now it’s just a matter of going through the motions and claiming the title.

Sentinels to dominate First Strike NA

Sentinels are the best squad in North America heading into the First Strike Global Finals, but there’s always the chance of an upset. The gap is certainly closing between them and the likes of Envy, TSM, and 100 Thieves, and First Strike could be the breaking point.

Apex Legends

ALGS Commissioner interview: What is the future of Apex Legends esports?

Published: 16/Jan/2021 22:08

by Theo Salaun

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As the Apex Legends Global Series heads into the Winter Circuit on January 29, we spoke to the ALGS commissioner John Nelson about the future of Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale as an esport.

Looking back on the past year and disregarding obstacles outside of your control, how do you feel about the growth of Apex Legends as an esport?

I think Apex Legends esports is in a great place. Obviously we set out at the beginning of this year to have a much different Apex Legends Global Series then we ended up with, one that was set to have at least 12 live events — and the world said “you can’t have any, it must all be online.” But we’ve really hit a groove now with the online circuits and found a formula for Apex Legends esports (while it needs to be online). 

And it’s really working: working for the players that are participating and we’ve been seeing viewership grow over time as well. We had to work through a lot of adversity this year, but are really excited about where we’ve ended up and are poised to return to live events as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Apex Legends enjoys an eager casual fanbase and a lot of the game’s content is geared toward that group. Is there a lag in esports growth compared to casual growth?

I definitely haven’t observed something like that. In some ways, the opposite is true. Each season, we’re seeing more and more players engaging with the game’s ranked leagues, which is really where a lot of players get their competitive start: They measure themselves within the ranked leagues and then graduate, to a degree, into the Apex Legends Global Series. 

So, really, the increased enthusiasm around the in-game ranked system and seeing ALGS players like ImperialHal being influencers in the game really goes to show how, from a viewership standpoint, even if it’s not ALGS content all the time, how enthusiastic viewers are about watching some of the best players in the world.

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Respawn Entertainment
Apex Legends Season 7 was released with some spicy new skins.

Considering the aforementioned content drops, how much dialogue is there between Respawn’s esport and casual teams to ensure new additions fit competitive goals? Essentially, how much focus is on ensuring that things that are great at a competitive level do not turn cheesy at the professional level? 

I think there’s a couple different angles for this one. First, I can say that the Respawn development team listens to feedback across the skill spectrum, but, in particular when talking about esports, they’ve listened to the professional community and their thoughts on how to improve the game in certain ways. 

Although I can’t speak to specifics, I think that, in 2021, we will see things come to the game which are improvements based specifically on professional player feedback.

What we see a lot in games that have legends with particular abilities is that, based on the skill level, we might see the use of different guns and different legends at a Gold level, a Diamond level or an ALGS Finals level. There’s differences there.

And I think that contributes to a healthy game, with guns or legends that have a prevalence or a usefulness at some skill levels, but maybe not others. The community gets to enjoy those things in different ways.

At what point does there become a split, where, as an example, attachments are permitted in the base game but prohibited in the ALGS?

We take those things legend by legend and item by item, but I have tremendous faith in the Respawn development team to be able to design things that are balanced with each other and to take feedback from the community when necessary to continue to make the game balanced moving forward. But there are even instances now where we’ve made changes to remove things from competitive play, the Gold Knockdown Shield is a good example of that — which hasn’t been a part of the ALGS since this summer. 

Gold Knockdown Shield in Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment
Gold Knockdown Shields proved worthy of exclusion from professional play.

With regards to legends and abilities, other esports like League of Legends and Overwatch have introduced hero bans (or selection restraints). Is that something the ALGS are considering as the game’s portfolio of legends grows?

It is. I don’t know that it’ll ever truly be a part of Apex Legends esports, but it’s definitely something that we consider. It also just brings another interesting dynamic to the esport itself. It drives conversation between fans and between analysts of the gameplay, just trying to predict what a team’s bans are going to be and how they are going to strategize based on the bans that have come out and the legend pool that is available to them. 

It definitely has some positives there. We’re obviously not in a place yet where we need to implement something like that, but it’s definitely a thought that we’ve given consideration to for the future. 

apex legends horizon mirage
Respawn Entertainment
Horizon is the latest Legend added to Apex’s growing cast.

Speaking of RNG-based issues, there have been concerns about ring logic and how it affects the game at a competitive level. Have you guys seen and considered community suggestions for introducing preset ring movements?

Absolutely, we’ve seen that sort of suggestion or, at least, the suggestion that there be a little more regularity to ending circles within ALGS play. And, again, I can’t speak to any specifics of things that may come to the game in the future, but I can say that we’ve heard that feedback and have had discussions around potential solves for it. 

What you brought up previously—having more regularity to the ending circles or more predictability—is one of the things that we’ve been discussing. 

apex legends drop

Compared to Autumn, what wrinkles should fans expect from the Winter Circuit?

We made some slight tweaks to the way that spots are awarded in the playoffs. We moved our broadcast from Mondays to Sundays, so I think our Winter Circuit broadcast will benefit from being on the weekends and all of our fans who have some more time to devote to watching the ALGS on the weekend than they do on the weekday. 

Like I said earlier, we’ve really found a groove with these circuits so there wasn’t a whole lot to change between Autumn and Winter. One of the big things is that we did increase the prize pool, which is up to $750,000 now. What that really represents is the growth of the Apex Legends Global Series. It reflects that growth and should be seen as an expectation moving forward of prize pools at least that large.

Aside from the prize pool, what are plans for the ALGS placement points earned by teams during each circuit?

It has always been our intention, since we launched the Apex Legends Global Series, for ALGS points to be a determining factor in qualification for live events. So once we are able to return to live events we intend to make good on that.

For the better part of this year and how we’ve had to pivot the ALGS, a lot of players have wondered, outside of this self-contained circuit, ‘what are my points for?’ and we very much intend to use them as intended as qualifications for live events once those are physically possible again.

apex legends global series algs winter circuit
Respawn Entertainment
The ALGS Winter Circuit is the biggest Apex esport event on the horizon.

And I’m assuming part of that will entail interregional events?

When I say returning to live events I’m talking about returning to global live events. It’s been since September of last year at the Preseason Invitational since we’ve been able to crown a global champion and we’re really looking forward to the day when we can do that again.

At the regional level, is a different approach to the meta by each region something that viewers should expect to see?

It is actually. From APAC North to APAC South to Europe, North America and South America, each region really has their own meta. 

apex legends horizon wraith crypto
Respawn Entertainment
Each region meshes Legend abilities differently at the professional level.

Summer Circuit Playoffs, for example, we saw, in APAC North, a Revenant on every single team — and I’m not sure that we saw a single one in the Americas’ playoffs. And, again, throughout the Autumn Circuit, we’ve seen that sort of thing play out where each region sort of has their own meta.

So from the one standpoint of just wanting to be able to crown a global champion, I can’t wait for live events. but also I can’t wait for these regions, that have had their siloed competitions for a long time now, to mix metas and see what happens when those different legend combinations come together again.


After a delay, the ALGS Winter Circuit will begin on January 29. It will be followed by the Apex Legends Global Series Championship, which will host the best 60 teams, and a $1 million prize pool.