VCT NA Challengers Finals is down to four teams
The first day of the North American Challengers Finals was nothing short of intense. A large majority of the maps came down the wire while some of the series went the distance. It was an incredible showing by each team that advanced to the next round of the tournament. Unfortunately, some teams had to say goodbye to their dreams of reaching Masters Reykjavík. Those teams were Andbox and XSET. Now, more eliminations will take place as NA inches closer to determining who will represent the region in Iceland. 100 Thieves takes on Sentinels while Cloud9 Blue goes to battle against NRG. The losers will move down to the Lower Bracket of NA Challengers Finals where Version1 and Team Envy wait for their next matchup.
Haven was the first map of this highly anticipated series. Sentinels planted the Spike in almost no time at all. Jared “zombs” Gitlin racked up a 3K to start Sentinels off on the right foot. A Flawless and a 3K from Tyson “TenZ” Ngo kept them rolling. Sentinels continued with fast plants and solid holds. Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk managed a 3K to finally help 100 Thieves put a round on the board. A huge Ace by Hunter “SicK” Mims kept 100T from gaining any ground. 100T picked up the pace after halftime with big plays from Asuna and Spencer “Hiko” Martin. They clawed back into contention for the map, but Sentinels locked in and ended it with a TenZ 4K and a tight 13:11 victory.
The cold of Icebox is where map two took place. Sentinels quickly took the pistol round. A 4K by zombs was quite impressive, but it happened with no time left to defuse the Spike, leaving the rounds tied. It constantly looked like one team would pull ahead, but the other would always keep things close. That lasted for a good while until 100 Thieves took a nice lead. Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella picked up a 4K to put them up by four. A 3K by Ethan “Ethan” Arnold continued the 100T snowball. The second half was more of the same with a 3k from Joshua “steel” Nissan taking 100 Thieves to 12. A round later and map three was a certainty. 100 Thieves dominated Icebox 13:3.
The series between 100T and SEN was decided on Bind. Sentinels started on attack with a solid pistol round win. A 3K from Michael “dapr” Gulino put them ahead by two. Rather quickly, they were up by three. Then they went up by four. Even the first decent buy round for 100 Thieves was not enough to slow Sentinels down. Another 3K from dapr put SEN up 6:0. Three from zombs extended the lead even further. A 3K round by Ethan finally gave 100T their first round and a Thrifty. Even with that, Sentinels kept them to two rounds in the first half. Two more rounds would be all they’d get and Sentinels, winning 13:4, advanced to face Cloud9 in the NA Challengers Final: Upper Final.
This one started on Haven, as well. Cloud9 Blue began on the attacking side, quickly picking NRG apart in the pistol round. That continued into the bonus and full buy rounds with Nathan “leaf” Orf taking charge. NRG managed to take a couple of rounds to help their economy, but C9 continued to play well. Some big plays by Daniel “eeiu” Vucenovic and Bradley “ANDROID” Fodor kept NRG in the thick of it, keeping things close at the half. NRG just could not get things going on attack, though. A 3K and other great plays by Son “xeta” Seon-ho kept expanding the C9 lead. A huge Clutch by Ricky “floppy” Kemery was the nail in the coffin. Cloud9 Blue finished Haven 13:6.
Cloud9 Blue looked to keep up the momentum from the first map. That didn’t exactly happen at first as NRG kept things fairly even. A big Thrifty 3K by Michael “poiz” Possis prevented NRG from having a chance to run away with it. In fact, they went ahead and did that themselves. A big 3K on a retake by leaf saw Cloud9 defend a round that was seemingly lost. Another C9 3K went to xeta and NRG had no answers for the Blue in the first half. The second half started to tell a different story. Sam “s0m” Oh as Astra helped NRG pull off some solid retakes in order to tie the game. Back and forth it went until a 3K by Mitch “mitch” Semago too C9 to series point. The NRG economy was shot and C9 Blue won the series with a 13:11 Ascent win.
The first series of Lower Round 2 saw a well-rested Version1 team take on an NRG squad who fought hard, but fell short against Cloud9 Blue. NRG looked to bounce back as they were clearly warmed up. ANDROID on Raze took it to V1 early, giving NRG a solid lead. Version1 attempted to stop the bleeding, but NRG just kept punishing them. An Ace from s0m was just a poetic scene in terms of how this match up was going. Version1 started to find some necessary rounds, though, bringing it as close as they could with an 8:4 deficit at halftime. They did their best to close the gap and it worked. Maxim “wippie” Shepelev played a huge part in turning things around and tied it at 8:8 with a 4K. From there, it was all V1 as the comeback completed and then some with a 13:9 final score.
Version1 defended very aggressively to start Ascent. A 3K by Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro netted the pistol round. That set up them up nicely for the forthcoming rounds. They went up 4:0 as NRG looked to find any of the same success they did at the start of Split. Anthony “vanity” Malaspina snagged his own 3K and the decimation of NRG continued. With V1 up 8:0, NRG finally managed to take their first round victory of Ascent. That helped them push to four before the half. Zellsis completed a 1v4 Clutch to keep V1’s momentum alive. That momentum took them to the finish line and the NA Challengers Finals: Lower Round 3. Ascent ended 13:6.
Yet another series between two massive teams on the day. Only one would remain in NA Challengers Finals after all is said and done. Bind opened the series and Team Envy took a quick lead. 100 Thieves retaliated just as quickly to prevent a runaway. An Ace by Asuna is what tied the rounds at two a piece. Soon enough, it was tied at three. 100 Thieves began to string together some rounds as Ethan and Asuna wrapped them up with multikills. A 3K by Pujan “FNS” Mehta gave NV their first round in a while, keeping the 100T lead to just 7:5. A 4K by FNS saw him step up to the plate again, tying the game. Team Envy continued their streak of rounds to 11, but 100 Thieves was on their tail. With an 11:11 tie, NV took it to match point and eventually closed it out 13:11.
The second map saw 100 Thieves start Ascent off strong. A big 3K by Asuna shut down a Team Envy eco round, growing 100T’s lead. Up 5:0, 100 Thieves faltered after several members of Envy were able to buy. That was enough for just one. 100 Thieves remained steady on their attacking side until Team Envy won their first set of consecutive rounds. Victor “Victor” Wong snagged a 3K to bring NV even closer. 100 Thieves kept their lead at 7:5 as sides switched. The teams traded rounds, but some wild ones went in favor of 100 Thieves to put them back in front. That propelled the series to a third map as 100T won Ascent 13:8.
100 Thieves or Team Envy would be eliminated after Haven. The Thieves wasted no in taking the lead, but the buy rounds saw NV take their first with a Jake “kaboose” McDonald two piece. A big round by Austin “crashies” Roberts evened it up. Envy took the lead, but 100 Thieves fought back with an Asuna 4K. The theme of the series continued as it remained close, tied up at halftime. NV took the pistol and followed it up with a Flawless to pull ahead. A massive Showstopper by kaboose killed three 100T members, bringing Team Envy to 11 rounds. 100 Thieves scratched and clawed, but overtime did not happen. Team Envy finished them off 13:11 and showed them the NA Challengers Finals exit.
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Brandon "Mothman" Moore
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