Valorant is only a few months old, yet the competitive scene is well underway and some teams have already separated themselves from the pack. From powerhouse organizations like Cloud9 and T1 to makeshift, orgless teams such as Together We Are Terrific, players from all across North America battled it out in four distinct Ignition Series events.
Valorant’s newest tournament series that will crown a regional champion, First Strike, is less than a month away. This makes now a better time than ever to reminisce on the five most successful teams of North American Valorant so far.
One June 16th, exactly two weeks after the official release of Valorant, Riot Games announced the Ignition Series, a partnership program with multiple tournament organizers to showcase the top tier of competitive play.
The North American Ignition Series consisted of four different events that took place over the course of three months: The T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, The Pax Arena Invitational, the FaZe Clan Invitational and Pop Flash. The fifth and final Ignition Series Event was FTW Summer Showdown, a female-only tournament.
Although it’s hard to count exactly how many different teams competed during the Ignition Series, as many players bounced around and changed team names, there were about 26 total squads that participated across the four main Ignition Series events.
It wasn’t hard for spectators to see the skill gaps between these teams. Of those 26, only 17 qualified for multiple events and only nine ever managed to place in the top four. Going even deeper, only five teams managed to place in the top two, and only two teams took home the honor of a first place finish. It’s clear that only a few select teams dominated the opposition during the run of Ignition Series events, and these are the five teams that outshined the rest.
5. Team Envy
Coming in at the fifth spot for this list, Envy is renowned for their background in competitive Call of Duty. But on July 13th, the organization announced their entry into Valorant, signing the orgless Together We Are Terrific.
Consisting of Adam “aKis” Kisseberth, Abdo “c4Lypso” Agha , Pujan “FNS” Mehta, Anthony “mummAy “ DiPaolo and Jake “kaboose” McDonald, TWAT caught the public’s eye by beating some of the region’s top teams in smaller events such as TSM in the Pittsburgh Knights Tournament Series and Cloud9 in Gamers for Equality. They’d later make a name for themselves as the upset threat, the team that would constantly take down the big names.
The roster would play one Ignition Series Event before being signed by Team Envy. In the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, the orgless squad once again proved that they had Cloud9’s number. They upset the talented squad in the group stage, which ended up being decisive in Cloud9’s shocking elimination prior to the playoffs.
In the FaZe Clan Invitational now under the Envy banner, the team continued to disprove the pundits, leaving the tournament with key victories against Complexity and, you guessed it, Cloud9.
Pop Flash was perhaps the most competitive Ignition Series tournament, and it was also Envy’s best. Organized by the same people behind FlashPoint, the all-new CS:GO league, Pop Flash featured the eight best teams that North America had to offer, and Envy ran all over them.
With victories against Immortals, T1, Dignitas and Cloud9, Envy’s Pop Flash run carried them all the way to the finals, where they were defeated at the hands of Sentinels.
Consistency was the name of the game for Envy: they were one of only two teams that made the playoffs in every single Ignition Series event. They constantly punched up, besting opponents in games that many had counted them out of.
One of the first teams to announce a Valorant roster, Immortals announced their first four players on May 21: Joseph “Bjor” Bjorklund, Noah “jcStani” Smith, Yannick “KOLER” Blanchette and Amgalan “genghsta” Nemekhbayar, with Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk being added a few weeks later.
Immortals started off the Ignition Series strong with an impressive third place finish in the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown. Despite being knocked out early in the playoffs by T1, Immortals rallied in the lower bracket all the way to the lower bracket final, where they’d once again be eliminated at the hands of the brax-led team. Their performance in the first Ignition Series tournament shouldn’t be discounted though, as they racked up victories against Sentinels, 100 Thieves and FaZe Clan, leading to their third place finish.
Immortals picked up another third place finish in the FaZe Clan Invitational, becoming one of four teams to place in the top 3 multiple times. The team’s only losses came at the hands of TSM and Sentinels, the top 2 finishers in the tournament.
Similar to Envy, Immortals constantly proved fans and analysts wrong. The team’s Ignition Series run was full of upsets in their favor, and with two top 3 finishes, Immortals firmly planted themselves among the best of the best.
One of the most storied organizations in all of esports, Cloud9 signed star player Tyson “TenZ” Ngo as their first Valorant player, transferring him over from Cloud9’s Counter-Strike team. Over the next few months, Cloud9 would slowly build up their roster around TenZ, signing Skyler “Relyks” Weaver, Mitch “mitch” Semago, Josh “shinobi” Abastado and finally, Daniel “vice” Kim.
Cloud9’s Ignition Series track record is highlighted by a second place finish in the PAX Arena Invitational, with their only losses coming from eventual champions Sentinels. Despite exiting the FaZe Clan Invitational early on in the playoffs, Cloud9 came away with impressive victories against Renegades, TSM and FaZe Clan.
Pop Flash was another successful tournament for Cloud9. They came away with a third place finish, losing to Sentinels in the upper bracket final and then to Envy in the lower bracket final.
Without a doubt, Cloud9 owe their success to their young star TenZ. At just 19-years-old, TenZ has proven to be one of the best Valorant players not only in North America, but in the world. He was famously the first player in North America to reach the Valorant rank (now the Radiant rank) during the closed beta. His Jett play rivals that of any other, and when the Operator is in his hands, there isn’t much the opposing team can do.
But Cloud9 is not a one-man show. The team’s ability to play around TenZ is what makes them so dominant. With Shinobi as their in-game-leader, Relyks fragging alongside TenZ and mitch and vice on utility duty, Cloud9 have put together one of the most cohesive units in Valorant.
2. Team SoloMid
Entering into elite territory, TSM are one of two teams to actually win an Ignition Series event. TSM came out of the gates swinging, signing mouseSpaz on May 22. The long-time Counter Strike teammates proved to be five of the most dominant players in North America.
During the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational, TSM dropped just two maps throughout the entire event, sweeping T1 in the grand final 3-0. The team came in third in the PAX Arena Invitational, losing to Sentinels before securing another championship in the FaZe Clan Invitational.
TSM never finished lower than fifth-sixth place in an Ignition Series Event. Just like Cloud9 with TenZ, TSM’s roster boasts the incredible Matthew “Wardell” Yu, one of the most talented Oper’s in the game. TSM’s win condition is simple: if Wardell is hitting his shots, they win. If he misses, they struggle. But with Wardell owning the motto “He don’t miss,” it’s not very often TSM find themselves struggling.
TSM’s experience as a team is what puts them so far ahead of the competition. The veteran leadership of Stephen “reltuC” Cutler and James “hazed” Cobb gives room for their younger talent to shine. The team has been seemingly unstoppable at times, and they are well-deserving of the number two spot.
Sentinels have been the most successful team of North American Valorant so far. They possess a diverse roster from all different backgrounds with Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, Hunter “SicK” Mims and Michael “dapr” Gulino coming from CS:GO, Jay “sinatraa” Won from Overwatch, and Jared “zombs” Gitlin from Apex Legends. The team is loaded both with consistent talent and crazy pop-off ability. They’ve been one of the most fun teams to watch, as they’re constantly on the forefront of innovation when it comes to meta and tactics.
While TSM brought home two Ignition Series victories, Sentinels took the other two. The two organizations sprouted the most competitive rivalry in Valorant, trading first place finishes back and forth while the rest of the region stood back and watched.
Sentinels are the only team with three top 2 finishes, and alongside Envy, they advanced to the playoffs in every single Ignition Series tournament that took place. In their PAX Arena Invitational win, Sentinels dropped just two maps to Gen.G and Cloud9, and in their Pop Flash victory, they dropped just one to Cloud9.
Since their players all came from different games, it did take a while for Sentinels to heat up. Before the Ignition Series, Sentinels were visibly struggling to gel, but in a few short months, they had soared to the top of the region.
Even while under the spotlight, sinatraa’s conversion from Overwatch League MVP to Valorant superstar went over smoothly. Zombs’ versatility allowed him to easily switch from Apex Legends to Valorant, just as he did with Overwatch. Veteran leadership from ShahZaM and SicK allowed dapr to easily slide into the team, despite him joining a month later.
First Strike is only weeks away, and with teams like 100 Thieves and Renegades already qualified for the main event, fans may see new squads come and take the spotlight for themselves. A champion of North American Valorant is set to be crowned December 6.