Nerd St. Gamers’ Valorant Winter Championship ended with an upset from Luminosity Gaming over the fan-favorite Sentinels.
The Winter Championship began with 16 teams and four Groups with everyone from Sentinels to XSET. Only eight teams, ANDBOX, Cloud9 Blue, Envy, Sentinels, NRG, Luminosity, Equinox, and Built By Gamers, made it through to the playoffs. ANDBOX, Luminosity and Equinox were viewed as underdogs coming into the Playoffs. But each team stepped up in its own way. Luminosity proved that they have the skill needed to take on a T1 Valorant squad after taking down Sentinels in a 3-2 upset.
Luminosity Takes on the Top Dogs
Icebox started hot for LG, punishing Sentinels for sloppy attacks and doing everything in their power to shut down Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan on the Operator. This was the Sentinels’ map pick, and they lost to LG 15-13. This set the stage for a Bind victory for Luminosity. On attack, LG went nuts, putting up nine straight round wins over Sentinels and securing their second map, and setting the series at 2-0. This was the time for Sentinels to come back. Down to an underdog, their back was against the wall with no options except to win. The first half of Split was questionable, but Sentinels found their stride on defense and barely secured a map victory. The first half started with LG on fire once again, holding back Sentinels on defense. When it was Luminosity’s turn to attack, they fell short on most pushes.
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The predictable lurk from Alex “aproto” Protopapas cut them short in a lot of fights. Meanwhile, Moose was unable to make use of flanks. With the series tied 2-2, it was all or nothing for both squads. The margin for a mistake was minimal for both teams. Ascent was a gripping map, and all it took was some clever rotations, a few well-placed shots, and Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond making the most of Raze and her abilities.
Regardless of this loss, there is something to be said about the skill of Hunter “SicK” Mims. He managed to play five different agents in a single series and performed exceptionally on each one. In Overwatch, some players can excel at any hero they play. But in Valorant we have yet to see that level of adaptability in professional play. Even though Sentinels lost, the roster that has been built and refined over the past few months is looking to be one of the deadliest squads in Valorant.
New Talent Emerges
Cloud9 Blue no longer has Duelist superstar Tyson “TenZ” Ngo on their roster, and despite making it to the Playoffs, they lost to Andbox in a three-map series. The slack was picked up by the teamwork of Nathan “leaf” Orf and Mitch “mitch” Semago. They worked together to close out Spike sites and carry the team into Quarterfinals. It would be unfair to say that Cloud9 Blue has fallen out of the graces of T1 Valorant, as they lost one of their most valuable players days before a competition. Andbox on the other hand is demanding respect in 2021. In their series against Cloud9 Blue, Bradley “ANDROID” Fodor picked up 52 kills. And even when he fell short on Ascent, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker was standing by to shut out C9.
The last major highlight of Nerd St. Gamer’s Winter Championship was Equinox Esports and their latest addition, Ian “tex” Botsch. Although Equinox ended in 4th place, they faced the opposite problem of Cloud9 Blue. Tex is a player with incredible pop-off potential and ended up as the top fragger for every single match that Equinox played during the Winter Championship. Riot’s Champions Tour for Valorant will be the ultimate proving grounds for players like Tex and teams like Equinox. Out of the many tournaments last year, it was impossible to nail down who is the best Valorant team in all of North America due to the circumstantial nature of early tournament brackets. This year, Equinox is pushing to grab the title, and it shows.