7th December 2020 – 3pm
The great North American championship ended tonight. In the end, 100 Thieves won the Valorant First Strike NA. They beat TSM for the second time on this competitive circuit and won the title of First North American Champions.
The game was electric before it even started. The popularity (and performances) of TSM have so far only been matched by Sentinels. These two teams were by far the most prominent in the United States, each winning two tournaments of the the Ignition Series. As for 100 Thieves , they've been mocked for their poor performances at the launch of Valorant.
A bad reputation which haunted the team and partly prompted the manager to review his composition. Since then, 100 Thieves rebuilt itself around nitr0, a former Counter-Strike star, joined by another figure of the Valve's FPS, Steel. The team then turned to Immortals' young talents, Asuna and Dicey, whose performances looked more than promising. As for Hiko, the only survivor of the team's initial lineup, he ensured the continuity and was able to adapt to the arrival of these headstrong personalities to build a cohesive group.
Since then, the more teasing TSM and Sentinels fans (and even the players themselves) have tended to belittle the performance of the 100 Thieves. To say that their victories were due to " strokes of luck " had become a common joke. But while everyone laughed at 100 Thieves, they kept training, playing and winning game after game.
The odd thing about the 100 Thieves is that they never win by crushing their opponents. Unlike TSM, which fairly consistently wins 13-1 maps, 100 Thieves usually goes all the way to the end, with rather tight scores.
That makes 100 Thieves a very pleasant team to watch in-game, because you always wonder in whose favour will tip the scales. There's no no match with them, all victories are difficult and therefore seem to be earned by the sweat of their brow. But that's also why there's constant doubt about their victory, especially against big names like TSM.
100 Thieves knocked out TSM and the Sentinels in the first qualifier of the Valorant First Strike. Sentinels got their revenge in semi-final and failed. TSM expected to do well where their rivals had failed.
The final started on Split, where TSM was ready to try its new aggressive 3-duelists strategy. For the first time in this tournament, the 100 Thieves decided to beat TSM at its own game and adopt that same strategy. Hiko therefore gave up his Sova for Raze for the duration of the map. Also, when they had the side's choice, they decided to start in Attack, in order to be the first to pressure the other. A choice that they've perpetuated on all the following maps.
The result was a tighter and more explosive game than we've seen in Europe, with a victory for the 100 Thieves on a score of 15 rounds to 13. Unlike the European meta which tends to slow down in favour of strategies, the North American meta is accelerating in such a way as to drown the opponents under repeated and precise assaults. It's the team that doesn't keep the pace that loses the game.
The fights were equally close on Bind, where the final score was 13-11 for 100 Thieves, after a constant back and forth of advantage between the two teams. If Subroza was clearly in great shape at TSM, Hiko and Asuna were able to measure up.
TSM looked definitely lost early at the start on Ascent, when the 100 Thieves won the first four rounds. But drone and hazed were able to straighten out the team during coordinated exchanges. By winning the map on a score of 13 rounds to 7, TSM regained hope.
A hope that was short-lived. Once on Haven, the 100 Thieves quickly gained the advantage. Despite the excellent performances of Wardell and reltuC, who have been rather quiet in this final so far, TSM has never been able to contain the assaults of dicey and Asuna. Hiko was also imperial, ending the game with a score of 24/9. In the end, 100 Thieves won this last map by a score of 13 rounds to 7.
Like the small European teams who defeated G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix, 100 Thieves has also beaten the big favourites of their region to become its first champions.
Esports on Valorant have only began and these matches prove it. There are still plenty of stories to be written about the game, and the ones everyone thought were unbeatable have finally fallen. This only bodes well for the Valorant Champions Tour of 2021.