13th July 2020 – 8:17pm
Alongside the Ignition Series and the Vitality European Open, the Pulse Invitationaltook place this weekend. This is an American tournament which brought together the top of the bill that we're starting to recognise on the Atlantic stage. The tournament was won by the Canadian team Gen.G Esports, in a final against Cloud9. However, it's not the final that interests us here. We were able to witness a surprising spectacle: a 13-1 victory by Cloud9 over TSM.
To set the context: for the past few weeks, TSM domination of the new continent has been indisputable. The team has won all of the tournaments it has participated in, until the Valorant Showdown. During the latter, they beat T1, the only team that we thought could worry them. And not only did they beat them, but they did it without playing Sage on Ascent.
This is where the Cloud9 victory becomes very interesting. TSM being in the leading position, any team that wants to hope to win a Valorant tournament must be ready to face TSM at one time or another. And clearly, Cloud9 was ready.
TSM strategy on Ascent is as follows: drowning opponents in cloud of smokes; reveal them with the abilities of Sova and Cypher; hide in the smoke to eliminate them. Cloud9 has understood that there could be two of them playing such games. By selecting Sova and Cypher too, Cloud9 had as much information as its opponents.
Even more deceitful, Cloud9 didn't hesitate to throw themselves through the opponents' smokes smokes to surprise them. TenZ on Jett, whom we would see trying to bypass his opponents, has proven to be very useful crossing TSM and preventing them from playing their game.
Shinobi, on his side, didn't hesitate to buy an Odin to fire into the crowd. TSM players could no longer calmly cross their own smokes. At least not without taking the risk of getting hit by a bullet. Shinobi was a huge success, including a triple kill that ended TSM economy in the middle of the game.
On his side, Relyk on Omen, himself created clouds of smoke at the sites entrances. But rather than doing it over long distances, as Omen players generally do, Relyk took perverse pleasure in doing them on site, or even teleporting inside, to hide and wait for his opponents. Once again, TSM was surprised. It seems that the weakness of Team SoloMid is ultimately to lose the initiative, while they're on the Attackers side.
And if TSM doesn't play Sage, Cloud9 didn't hesitate to let mitch select her. As soon as TSM started one of its assault, they were either assaulted by Cloud9 players, or stopped or slowed down by mitch's Orbs.
Facing such aggressiveness, TSM tried to adjust its strategy, without success. Out of their game plan, the team never really managed to get out. They only managed to take one point from Cloud9 in the first phase of the game, concluding with a score of 1-11 at the switch of side. By winning the second pistol round, Cloud9 quite easily got the last point required to end the game, on a 13-1.
TSM finally lost the BO3 against Cloud9. Scores weren't as one-sided in the following games, but they still weren't able to catch up.
If we come back especially to this 13-1, it's because it seems particularly important and interesting. It perfectly illustrates all the potential that remains undiscovered in Valorant. So far, we've only witnessed the beginnings of the competitive scene. It's made up mostly of Counter-Strike players and some reflexes die hard. Valorant gradually reveals that it's a different game. If all players are mechanically flawless, thanks to a decade of Counter-Strike, it's ultimately the tactical preparation that makes the difference.
Cloud9 has obviously prepared well for its match against TSM. They were able to analyse the matches of their opponents and study the strategic possibilities that Valorant offered them to counter them; and it paid off. Just like TSM tactical advance made them win the Valorant Showdown. It's not that TSM played badly, it's just that Cloud9 has turned their game against them.
Valorant stage is evolving, and it learns very quickly. It's impossible to say today who will be the champion of tomorrow. And that's what makes it so interesting to watch today.