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NA Challengers 2 Playoffs Preview: Round 1

NA Challengers 2 Playoffs

The NA Challengers 2 Playoffs Groups Stage of NA’s VALORANT Pro Tour has concluded. Eight teams now compete in the Playoffs, where a regional champion will be crowned and the top two teams will represent NA at Masters 2 Copenhagen. XSET and OpTic Gaming have earned a bye to the upper bracket semi-finals as first seed in their groups. Meanwhile, NRG and Luminosity Gaming start in the lower bracket as fourth seed in their respective groups. Here are the matchups for the first round of the NA Playoffs.

Related [EMEA Challengers 2 Playoffs Preview: Round 1]

FaZe Clan vs 100 Thieves

FaZe Clan and 100 Thieves last faced off was in the Challengers 3 Upper Quarterfinals of 2021. 100 Thieves readily defeated FaZe 2-0, but both teams have undergone complete reinventions of their rosters from last VCT.

FaZe Clan had not participated in Stage 1 Challengers, having lost in the open qualifiers early to Ghost Gaming and Andbox, ending their run. Changes to the roster added Phat “supamen” Le, Kevin “POISED” Ngo and Quan “dicey” Tran before Challengers 2. Abdrej “BABYBAY” Francisty and Xavier “flyuh” Carlson round out the roster as FaZe qualified for Playoffs with a 3-2 record. Maintaining a three game win streak, the player to watch out on FaZe is BABYBAY and his Neon. BABAYBAY played the agent six times in the Groups Stage, five of them in the last three wins to outstanding results. A combined ACS of 274 in these three wins showcases BABYBAY’s mastery on the agent and the value Neon’s utility brings.

Failure to qualify in Stage 1 Challengers with a 1-4 record led 100 Thieves to be redesigned underneath a new vision. The team decided to keep only Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk and Sean “bang” Bezerra on the main roster. William “Will” Cheng, Brenden “stellar” Mcgrath and Derrek “Derrek” Ha all joined as the newest iteration of 100 Thieves. 100 Thieves also cquired Sean “seangares” Gares as Head Coach, Daniel “ddk” Kapadia as Manager and Michael “Mikes” Hockom as Assistant Coach.

The new roster found success with an improved 3-2 record, qualifying for playoffs as Group A’s 3rd Seed. The player to watch is star duelist Will, who’s performance decided the last two matches in the groups stage. A 2-0 victory against NRG Esports found him at the top of the leaderboards, with an ACS of 274 and a positive Kill/Death ratio of +8. However, 100 Thieves’ most recent 0-2 loss against Ghost Gaming had Will at the bottom, the lowest ACS at 182 and a negative K/D of -13. For 100 Thieves is to succeed, Will is their main win condition against FaZe on Thursday.

Ghost Gaming vs Evil Geniuses

These two teams previously met in each open qualifier, with Evil Geniuses taking both matches 2-1. Ghost Gaming rides on a four game winning streak as the second seed from Group A with a 4-1 record. Evil Geniuses comes fresh off of a loss to FaZe Clan, entering as the third seed with a 3-2 record.

Narrowly missing Challengers 1 in Lower Round 4 to Pioneers, Ghost Gaming makes their first appearance in Challengers. Ryan “ryann” Welsh’s departure has Alex “aproto” Protopapas as their most recent roster move from Challengers 1 to 2. Throughout the Groups Stage, Ghost found great success in agent pool variety and flex picks on the team. Marc-Andre “NiSMO” Tayar has played five maps with duelist Raze and four with initiator KAY/O. Similarly, Gianfranco “koalanoob” Potestio fits Ghost perfectly either dashing in as Jett, or holding down angles as Chamber. Both players went postive in Groups, only with the XSET loss having koalanoob at an even 0 Kill/Death Ratio.

Evil Geniuses look to redeem themselves from a disastrous 0-5 record in Challengers 1 with their first playoffs appearance. Since Challengers 1, Corbin “C0M” Lee and Vincent “Apoth” Le have replaced Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond and Mike “pho” Panza. Star duelist Alexander “jawgemo” Mor is the main driving force behind EG’s success with his Raze and Jett. jawgemo never dropped below 200 ACS in the Groups Stage, with his best performance at 383 ACS against Luminosity.

The NA Playoffs for Challengers 2 starts at 3:00pm CDT, June 16, with Faze Clan squaring off against 100 Thieves. The winner will go on to face XSET in the Upper Semifinals. Ghost Gaming and Evil Geniuses face-off after, with the winner proceeding to OpTic Gaming.

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