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Explaining the Card: A Degenerate’s View on Day 1 of the North America Stage 3 Challengers 2 Matches

Gambling on competitive VALORANT in North America is back and it is a great day to be alive.

The first day of matches for Stage 3, Challengers 2 may just set the stage for two fan-favorite organizations battling it out in the upper bracket semi-finals. It probably won’t but still. TSM find themselves against the always feisty Gen.G Esports while Version1 go five-on-five against T1.

With formulas for success in the scene still being worked on and trendlines still being created, it is always refreshing to have a really basic approach to predictions of what will happen in any given series.

Gen.G vs Team SoloMid

It’s a rivalry that isn’t really called a rivalry.

The two teams have found themselves coming up against each other in a number of tournaments. TSM’s 17-7 map record against Gen.G since the start of competitive VALORANT gives the impression that the match-up has been one-sided however Gen.G playing the role of spoiler during Stage 1 Challengers 2 still doesn’t sit well.

TSM look to be returning to their expected form with the new roster as they would qualify through the open qualifier last week. And we haven’t seen Gen.G since their exit from Challengers 1 back in early July.

Understandably, TSM come in as the projected favorites (-120) with Gen.G being listed as minus odds underdogs (-110). Not only is it Vegas respecting Gen.G’s status as good competitors, they’re understanding of the fact that TSM have looked much better in recent weeks — along with fans likely to be swarming to bet on TSM.

I am not a fan of them. But, I will bet on them.

Not without caution.

Gen.G did not look great in their last competitive match against Team Envy. They’ve had time to mull over the match and learn from the series. But we don’t necessarily know what we’re getting out of them.

On the other hand, TSM is coming off of the high of qualifying after missing out so many times. They’re riding the wave of excitement with their new team and the organization looks to be in excellent form albeit it wasn’t against the same level of talent.

TSM’s new coach appears to have the team on the same page. Although, it does feel like TSM’s star player Matthew ‘WARDELL’ Yu is playing up to expectations. He would post the third-best kill-to-death ratio (1.43), post a respectable 0.89 kills per round and a respectable 0.20 first kills per round.

The two teams haven’t met on the competitive stage since April and both may be adjusting. However, it would be a tad bit surprising if the rust isn’t shown more by Gen.G and they find themselves in the loser’s bracket early.

The card:

TSM to win the series (-120)
Map count to be under 2.5 (-120)
TSM to win Map 1 (-120)
TSM to win 2-0 (+250)

Version1 vs T1 Esports

A similar story presents itself. Version1 haven’t played on the competitive stage since early July and T1 Esports are coming off of a weekend where they’re really happy with their performance.

But Version1 has been one of the best teams in North America. Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro’s suspension keeping him from competing in Stage 3 – Challengers 1 is finally lifted and the team will be at full strength once again. The sour memory of a Zellsis-less Version1 being out of said tournament still lingers but the team.

On the opposite side of the table, T1 Esports are slowly becoming the darlings of the space. With the team receiving a ton of support from popular streamer and former Counter Strike: Global Offensive star Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, it makes all of the sense in the world.

They’re the kings of “almost.” They’re almost a great team, almost fighting to contend with the other top tier organizations. It is somewhat fitting given Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham’s story with competitive CS:GO — almost reaching great heights for most of his career and searching for that defining moment.

It feels too early for this to be the breakthrough moment for T1.

Their flawless Challengers 2 open qualifiers with their new line-up was reassuring that they were on the right track. Re-signing Braxton “brax” Pierce and bringing in Anthony “dawn” Hagopian from their academy team clearly paid off as both performed well throughout the tournament..

Timothy “autimatic” Ta would have his best tournament since moving over to VALORANT — producing a 167.3 average damage per round, a 0.23 first kills per round, a 0.91 kills per round and average a kill-death ratio of 1.34.

But they couldn’t win a pistol round against Built By Gamers

They won convincingly against their three opponents — with none of the teams breaking the double digit round count per map. But it still begs the question of was it their competition or was it the general improvement from T1.

The card:
Version1 to win the series (-140)
Map count to be over 2.5 (-105)
Version1 to win the series 2-1 (+250)
Version1 to win Map 1 (-125)

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