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Back-to-back second-place finishes at recent all-women tournaments left TENSTAR Nova with a desire to prove what they were really capable of. That opportunity came in the form of EMEA Game Changers, which showcased just how flawless TENSTAR Nova could perform in a high-profile tournament.
The round-robin was a breeze for the French side, as they easily topped their group to reach the main event. There, the title of Game Changers champions was in their sights. Match after match, TENSTAR Nova 2-0’d their opponents. And when they reached the finals against RIXGG, the trophy that TENSTAR Nova coveted was finally within reach.
Despite losing an intense 16-18 overtime on Bind, their first map loss of the tournament, TENSTAR Nova continued to play their flawless game up until the end. In the last map of the grand final, with the title of Game Changers champions just 13 rounds away, TENSTAR Nova played their hearts out on Haven. They took a substantial lead in the first half, bringing the score to 11-1 in their favor. With the inevitable ahead, the team kept their cool and grabbed back-to-back rounds to finish it out 13-2. Now cemented as the Game Changers champions for EMEA, the women of TENSTAR Nova could finally celebrate their accomplishment.
That's how it feels to be the Champions.
— TENSTAR (@TENSTARGG) October 3, 2021
TENSTAR sign former orgless top-tier team
From an orgless roster tearing it up in the smaller women’s tournaments to signing with an organization and winning the first Game Changers series for Europe, TENSTAR Nova have come a long way. But with their new organization bringing years of experience from Counter-Strike to a new title, the former team GangsterzZ are well-positioned to sate their hunger to take on North America at an international level.
While TENSTAR fielded the former Prestigious Women squad in the early days of competitive VALORANT, before signing GangsterzZ, the org is just starting to see success. That has fostered a strong relationship between them and their new players.
“TENSTAR chose us at a time when we did not yet have any organization proposals,” said Lucy “Sliicyy” Tran. “They presented themselves as a promising organization and were very welcoming. Today, I do not regret my decision to join TENSTAR. I am really happy because they are a second family to us.”
TENSTAR Nova and CS:GO
The head of the TENSTAR Nova family, as it were, is current head coach Mickael “Twenee” Annequin. He got his start in esports by helping teams in Counter-Strike but got his first full-time experience coaching with Sliicyy.
“It was kind of my first experience as a coach,” Twenee said. “I helped a bit in CS on teams, but I never fully committed as a coach. Even when VALORANT came out, I started as a player.”
Twenee isn’t the only one from the TENSTAR Nova camp that has experience in Counter-Strike. Both Sliiccy and team captain Asma “LiriLia” Boughida played Counter-Strike professionally before transitioning to VALORANT.
After countless hours of playing Counter-Strike, both women were looking for a change of scenery, which VALORANT brought. Their story is similar to many pros currently participating in the VCT, who have made names and careers for themselves in a completely new title.
“I started playing VALORANT in the closed beta,” said Sliicyy. “The game’s trailer really drew me in. With over 5,000 hours on CS:GO, the move to VALORANT was a no-brainer, as I was looking for something new.”
Rising talent in EMEA Game Changers
The round-robin for the EMEA Game Changers tournament featured 49 different teams competing for one of the 16 spots at the main event. While TENSTAR Nova came close to making a flawless run to the grand finals, the members still tipped their hats to some of the other rosters they thought could be considered top teams.
“For me, apart from TENSTAR, the best teams on the Game Changers scene today are Guild and RIXGG,” said Sliicyy. “They each have a different style of play but each has their charm.”
Outside of Guild and RIXGG, they also count Oxygen Esports among the top teams in the EMEA Game Changers scene.
“Oxygen are really strong,” said LiriLia. “They are very structured and they know how to respond to everything we do. We know that when we face them, it won’t be as easy as against another team because they know how to adapt.”
TENSTAR’s head coach, Twenee, went on to say there were a lot of teams that performed well throughout the event. He also mentioned that the team did not expect the tournament to go as flawlessly as it had, with TENSTAR Nova only dropping a single map.
International tournaments and Cloud9 White
For EMEA, Game Changers has only had one series to judge the best of the best. However, for NA, there have been two other Game Changers series, along with several other tournaments. Out of those three Game Changers tournaments, one team has reigned supreme above all others: Cloud9 White.
After such a crushing performance, winning back to back to back, they are the obvious target for teams outside of the region, like TENSTAR Nova.
“For me, the NA team to play would be Cloud 9 because we could finally compete with the NA team that everyone is talking about,” said Sliicyy.
— TENSTAR (@TENSTARGG) October 1, 2021
But it’s not just Cloud9 White that TENSTAR Nova wants to conquer after their victory in EMEA. The next step would be an international women’s tournament, a true parallel to events like VCT Masters Iceland and Berlin. That way, LiriLia could show off which region she thinks is the strongest.
“Overall in Europe we have better teams,” said LiriLia. “In NA there are three or four good teams, but in Europe, I think we are stacked.”
In the end, just like with VCT teams, there is no real way of telling who truly sits at the top until there is an international LAN.
No NA teams have been able to stand up to Cloud9 White so far, but TENSTAR Nova has begun doing a solid impression of their initial Game Changers success. With a few more event wins, they could rise up to the same level of dominance Cloud9 White have enjoyed and set up the potential of an all-time classic match were they to play.
This success has helped TENSTAR, which has competed in both the VALORANT Champions Tour, Game Changers and Rainbow Six, cement themselves as a rising organization looking to earn respect in the esports scene. But first, their next test will come during the second EMEA Game Changers series set to take place at the end of October.
Danny Appleford is an esports journalist for Upcomer that started writing for Daily Esports in 2020. He now specializes in articles surrounding League of Legends, Call of Duty, VALORANT and Halo.