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VCT Stage 2 Masters – Are we too focused on the EU vs NA rivalry?

For the first time since its inception Valorant will be played on LAN and we’ll finally be able to answer the age old question: Is EU truly better than NA?

With 10 teams currently in Reykjavik, Iceland this tournament will play out a bit different than usual. Four teams have to play in a play-in format to move into the brackets proper, including both runners up of the ‘big’ regions.
Of course, big region is an understatement, as we have no way of knowing how the regions of Latin America, Brazil and Asia stack up against what has been considered the ‘strong’ regions of North America and Europe. As such, we’ll look at the teams to not forget, the dark horse of the tournament and then the tournament favorites.
Teams to keep in mind
Team Liquid
The European #1 seed is obviously going to be one of the favorites for the tournament. Built around a semi-pro UK CS:GO-team and including one of the most skilled aimers in the business in Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, Team Liquid has had its fair share of ups and downs but came out swinging when it mattered. While ScreaM’s raw aim has been pivotal in getting Team Liquid to where they are, we’ve seen the team struggle when he doesn’t perform.

As such, if ScreaM is on point, the team will be one of the very best at the tournament. If he’s not, we might see them struggle against some opponents. That’s not to say that they won’t get very far, but laying claim on the trophy will be a tough ask.
Version1
Essentially coming out of nowhere, Version1 is the definition of the underdog story. With many established names vying for a spot in the North American qualifiers, Version1 was not a name near the top of anyone’s list, but they proved everyone wrong and despite being thrashed by Sentinels in the final, they showed great resilience with their lower bracket run. They showed great teamwork and composure beating out many top teams on the road to qualifying. Definitely a team to keep in mind.

Nuturn Gaming
Korea’s representative Nuturn Gaming will be a surprising name for anyone with a passing interest in Korean Valorant. Most will have expected Vision Strikers to qualify. Prior to their VCT Challengers run, said team had an astounding record of 101 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses. However, after first faltering in the group stage to F4Q and losing their 100 game winning streak, the team then lost to Nuturn Gaming, who would go on to win the tournament.
While not the first team to do so, Nuturn Gaming put the final nail in the coffin of Vision Striker and as such ought to be taken very serious when they show up in Iceland. They will be ready to prove that beating Vision Strikers was definitely not a fluke.
Dark horses
Team Vikings
To anyone with little interest in South American Valorant, Team Vikings will be a completely unknown name. However, the team is far and away the best Brazil has to offer. The first Team Vikings achieved poor results and the entire lineup was gutted with the exception of Gustavo “gtnziN” Moura.

A new team was built around him in preparation of the second stage and the new lineup has made a serious claim to being the best team Brazil has ever seen, always placing in the top 4. If teams underestimate Team Vikings and don’t do their homework, they could be in for a nasty surprise.
Tournament favorites
Fnatic
Fnatic made some moves that would have confused more than a few fans of the organization. Who were these players that the team had picked up after removing both Kostas “tsack” Theodoropoulos and Muhammad “Moe40” Hariff? While the players themselves might have been unknown, their recognition within the scene belied their skill.

Fnatic improved by leaps and bounds after bringing in their new players and shocked everyone by going on an incredible run that saw them finish runners up in the Challenger Finals in Europe. I have them over Team Liquid because I think they’re the more consistent of the two European teams and given their strategies and team compositions, can see them reaching the final stages of the tournament, if not win it outright.
Sentinels
While the accusations surrounding former player Jay “Sinatraa” Won are horrific, it turned out to be a golden opportunity for Sentinels. After their star player was benched, the team made a move to get Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and they have never looked back since. Going on an incredible run and looking unbeatable in their own region means that the American team is expected to make a very deep tournament run.
While their new star player currently has an injury after an unfortunate water boiler accident, the team’s raw skill is undeniable. Built upon a solid foundation of fantastic aimers, Sentinels will most likely be regarded as the most mechanically gifted team at the event. Whether that’s enough to brute force wins against tactically superior opponents however, remains to be seen.
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Image Credit: Team Liquid

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