This article is part of our VALORANT series.
VALORANT Elite Showdown gave us an intriguing mix of teams all hovering right below the VCT Champions level. Featuring everyone from Version1 to TSM FTX Academy as well as the top 'Game Changers', this event was a look at the North American VALORANT scene... outside of the best teams. There were some good performances and some surprisingly bad performances in what turned into an upset-filled weekend featuring some teams that generally end up outside of the public eye in North America.
Pittsburgh Knights and Kansas City Pioneers have both toiled in the sub-top North American scene, grinding away at tournaments and taking on all comers, and it showed in VALORANT Elite Showdown. These two teams ended up contesting the final, with Pioneers taking the win in the end. Knights in particular took some impressive wins, dismissing both Evil Geniuses and Version1 on their road to the final. Pioneers also had some strong wins, against NRG and Built By Gamers, as well as winning the grand final of course. An Honorable mention here to Teal Seam and NRG Esports, the third/fourth placed finishers, who both put together strong runs, even if they fell short of the gold medal match. All four of these teams have the rest of the offseason to keep grinding and improving, and if VALORANT Elite Showdown is anything to go by, this could be an exciting crop of challengers for the more established VCT North America teams.
meL - (1.20 rating, 247 ACS) meL is a star player, she is capable across the board and could easily play on a mixed team.
Version1, Complexity, Immortals and Andbox all competed for some of the early VALORANT titles and seemed set to be long-term parts of the highest level of North American VALORANT. So much for that. All four teams were absolutely abysmal. None made it past the round of 16, despite all having cases to be potential favorites for the tournament. Yes, it's the offseason, yes this is a community tournament, but all four teams were simply abysmal, with Version1 being the only team to win a single map. This category might as well be named "roster changes imminent" as these teams look to fix the many ailments they have. For teams who's goal is to qualify for VCT in 2022, this is about as bad of a start as possible.
Academy teams aren't meant to be the best teams in the world, but the hope is they can compete and gain experience in tier two tournaments, events such as VALORANT Elite Showdown. While many of the academy teams did well, qualifying for the final bracket none really made a deep run, with Cloud9 Academy and T1 Academy losing in the first round. TSM FTX Academy did better, making it to the second round, and taking a big win against Complexity, before losing to the eventual champions, Kansas City Pioneers. That said it was a very close 2-1 series, with the final map going all the way to overtime where Kansas City Pioneers won, 14-12. TSM FTX Academy came into the tournament as the best Academy, and they've retained that title, though they failed to make the step up to the next level.
Riot Games have made a concerted effort to grow the women's VALORANT scene, with the Game Changers series being the crown jewel of the absolute best teams in that space. VALORANT Elite Showdown was a stark statement that North American VALORANT isn't ready for mixed tournaments just yet. None of the Game Changers teams made it out of the group stage, with Cloud9 White being the only team to win a series. These mixed tournaments provide invaluable experience for those teams, but at the moment they appear to be teams to target the opponents of for fantasy purposes.
ShoT UP - (0.92 rating, 176 ACS) ShoT UP is a premier talent on Immortals, but VALORANT Elite was a tournament to forget.
milky - (0.27 rating, 106 ADR) Put simply three kills total in a series will not work out. milky managed the dubious honor of a negative rating, a -0.03 during a 13-2 loss to Professional Malders.