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2022 VALORANT Champions Tour North America Stage 1 Challengers continues this week, with the third batch of group stage games to round out February. The first match of the week was between Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses, two teams occupying very different places in the standings. Cloud9 have won both of their games so far, while Evil Geniuses, colloquially known as EG, have struggled against their opponents and have a 0-2 group stage record.

The first map, Haven, was what many expected from the match. Cloud9 opened with a 9-3 half thanks to excellent utility usage that allowed them to take space comfortably, and ultimately won the map 13-5. Considering it was EG’s map pick, the result didn’t bode well for their prospects on the remaining maps – especially since Map 2 was Breeze, Cloud9’s playground.

Prior to Friday, Cloud9 had only lost Breeze once since it became available in pro VALORANT. According to VLR.GG they had a 94% winrate on Breeze, and that was not expected to change much against EG.

However, despite standout moments from Cloud9 captain Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, EG immediately defied expectations by pulling off a 7-5 first half. Excellent play from Jeffrey “Reformed” Lu and Kelden “Boostio” Pupello gave them the edge heading into their attack half. It still didn’t seem conceivable that Cloud9 would actually lose the map; they’d been in tight situations on Breeze many times before, after all, and still managed to pull off the victory no matter how many overtime rounds they had to play.

EG didn’t show any signs of letting up in the second half, though. Despite Cloud9’s best efforts, EG managed to win the map and become only the second team to ever take Breeze from Cloud9. It ended the nine-map win streak that Cloud9 had held there since Oct. 2021.

Although the third map had a more expected result, with Cloud9 winning 13-2 and thereby winning the match, it was a reminder of the kind of parity that exists within North American VALORANT. Following their win against XSET in Week 2, Mitch “mitch” Semago said that “anybody could win on any given day.” EG didn’t manage to win the match, but they broke a months-long winning streak from arguably North America’s top team, and it’s a sign of how much they might be able to improve in the future.

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