2nd September 2020 – 7:05pm
This weekend was rich in esports for Valorant. Europe and United States were the stages of two Ignition Series tournaments. Here is the summary of the Pop Flash, the American tournament that offered a real spectacle from start to finish.
The Pop Flash was the last tournament of the Ignition Series in the United States. It's not known yet which format will replace it, nor why the United States is the only one to end the Ignition Series for the moment. Still, until the announcement of a new circuit, this was the last time we could see the big American teams compete in an official tournament.
The tournament has been going on all last week. This time, it was reserved for 8 structures competing on a double elimination tree. The Pop Flash allowed some teams to reveal themselves, while other crashed.
Killjoy was playable for the first time in the Ignition Series. Some teams played her straight away, others stood away from her. Once this is sure, she has impacted on meta, however very different in Europe and the United States.
Sentinels, the team of Sinatraa, has proven once again that they are still as strong, if not more, as TSM. The team won the Pop Flash having lost only one map of the entire tournament and without being really worried. Even in the final, when their opponents had twice the choice of the map, they managed to win each round with a comfortable lead.
If Sentinels didn't even have to sweat, it was partly because they never encountered their rivals, TSM. Someone had already taken care of Team SoloMid for them...
Team Dignitas had only been revealed a week earlier and yet, it marked the competition. These former Homeless players were looking for a Jett player who is talented with the Operator to complete their team. They invited Shanks, a player who had only been in a few mixes, and, to say the least, they must no have regretted their choice.
If Dignitas marked the competition so much, it's becausethey were able to beat TSM in two BO3, in winner as in loser bracket. TSM is the best Valorant team in the United States, along with Sentinels. Getting to beat them twice is therefore quite an achievement. And we're not talking about small victories! Dignitas won its two BO3s on scores of 13-5 and 13-4 in the first, then 14-12, 3-13 and 13-7 in the second.
The performances of Shanks, coupled with those of dephh, were decisive in these victories. The games seemed to be played on the duels of Shanks and Wardell. If Shanks killed Wardell early in the game, the Dignitas rolled over TSM, both in Attack and Defense. If Wardell killed Shanks, no problem, Dephh would pick up Shanks' Operator and kill Wardell in his place. These cases were repeated many times throughout their encounters. Psalm was also in good shape, and particularly effective in clearing TSM ranks, even in the scenarios against him.
TSM appeared lost in mid-range fights and deprived of Wardell. They are going to have to work on these weaknesses if they don't want to be surprised at the next tournaments. As for Dignitas, they may well have found their Jett player.
The Cloud9 team in Valorant has always been an interesting case. No one would say they are the best Valorant players in the United States, yet they consistently perform feats that say a lot about their enormous potential. We already talked about how they defeated TSM by beating them at their own game. This time, they managed two new upsets that qualified them to the semi-final.
Cloud9 is a great team, but, at first glance, we would think they would lose against Gen.G Esports. And yet! While things didn't start very well for Cloud9 in the first match (8-13), the team recovered on the second and third match by winning each map with a convincing score (13-5, 13-6). TenZ's Reyna was absolutely out of control, supported by the Cypher of Vice and the Killjoy of mitch. Reyna's pick is particularly rare, because it's very dependent on the individual skill of the player. But since TenZ was in very good shape that day, the character could demonstrate her full potential.
For its second BO, Cloud9 simply crushed Dignitas. As they just managed a phenomenal upset against TSM, they saw their momentum stopped by Cloud9 wall. The first match on Haven, in particular, ended on a terrible 1-13 for Dignitas. TenZ and mitch, still going flat out, flew over the entire match and sent Dignitas to the loser bracket where they faced TSM again.
Qualified for the playoffs, which were played this weekend, nothing seemed able to stop Cloud9. During the winners semi-final against Envy, TenZ once again worked wonders, with no less than 62 kills alone over the 3 matches of this BO3. The first match on Split seemed however complicated, vice and shinobi failing to make any impact in the game. They lost the first match on a 4-13 score.
In the second game on Ascent, the score was 10-2 for Envy at the switch of sides. All seemed lost for Cloud9, but the team managed to pull themselves together and make the biggest comeback in the competitive Valorant scene to date. They ended up coming back and winning the map with a score of 13-11, conceding only one round in the second phase of the game. The encounters on Haven were just as close and no one could predict who would win in the end. The game went to over time where Cloud9 ended up winning 15-13.
In winners final, however, Cloud9 was no match against Sentinels, but was clearly not unworthy. They managed to win a map (13-11), the only one Sentinels lost in the entire tournament, before finally losing in the next two games (7-13 and 11-13). Cloud9 then encountered Envy again, but failed to work wonders again.
Cloud9 therefore stopped in the loser final, but not without showing its talents. They don't lack much to compete with the tenors of the American scene.
What's interesting about the American scene is that you feel like any team is capable of creating a surprise. The show is always there and Pop Flash is no exception. If this is truly the last tournament of the Ignition Series, we can hope for a more formal (and regular) scene to emerge. This would allow the teams more opportunities to meet and grow, while allowing viewers to follow exciting matches regularly.