The 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour season has officially begun across the world.
Over here in North America, reigning league champions Sentinels will be putting their domestic crown on the line against 11 opposing organizations over the next two months. The top two teams will qualify for the first international event of the year, VALORANT Stage 1 Masters, where they’ll take on the best the rest of the world has to offer en route to the world championship later this fall.
Every Monday, I will unveil my weekly power rankings for the teams in VCT North America as we move towards the playoffs and the championship final.
Here is my updated hierarchy after Week 4 of regular season games.
1. Cloud9 (4-0)
They were No. 1 before the season started, and much hasn’t changed through the first month of VCT North America. The anticipated clash with fellow undefeated side The Guard could be a banger to decide Group A or devolve into a clown fiesta seeding match on the new patch.
Either way, it should be must-see television.
2. Version1 (4-0)
The cards were on the table for V1 going into this week. This was the match they were supposed to lose to a red hot OpTic Gaming squad rearing into gear, and it looked to be falling that way after the Green Wall blew them out 13-2 to open the series.
Yet, as they’ve done all season long, V1 kept their calm and proceeded to dissect their opponents on the following two maps to put them in the driver’s seat of Group B while going into the final week of the regular season. If they can take care of business against Sentinels, they’ll enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed from their half of the field.
3. The Guard (4-0)
An organization that didn’t even exist a couple of months ago are now at the forefront of making it to Iceland for the first international event of the year. While Trent “trent” Cairns will receive a majority of the attention (and for a good reason), it’s been the one-two punch between the 17-year-old initiator and the team’s ace duelist Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha that has driven them to their perfect record with the final boss of C9 awaiting.
If Sayaplayer can continue his trend upward, he’ll soon be in the conversation for best duelist in the North American region.
4. Sentinels (3-1)
After the three undefeated squads atop the rankings, everyone else has some critical questions to be answered as we head towards the playoffs. Sentinels are skilled enough to beat all of the teams above them in my hierarchy, but they can also drop a game to every team in the VCT.
They’ve dropped four straight opening maps and have come back in three of them to keep their record looking decent following four weeks of play. Luckily, all it will take is a victory over V1 in their final match day of the season to turn the narrative around so that they’re the unbeatable kings once again. Just maybe don’t lose the first map again, please?
5. OpTic Gaming (2-2)
It has been a tale of two OpTics so far this season in the VCT. When they’re good, they look like the best team in NA and they’re ready to take on the likes of Acend Club or Gambit Esports on the international stage. Then they have games like their ending maps versus V1 or their opening contest against Rise, where I wouldn’t be surprised if they fail even to make the playoffs.
Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker might be the best player globally, but no team is going far in the VCT if a single player has to put on his best modern-day Lakers LeBron James impression.
6. XSET (2-2)
Nothing has been easy for XSET this season, but I still value them as highly as I can for a team with a .500 record that haven’t seemed to hit their peak so far in the regular season. On the positive side, their young duelist duo was in sync against 100 Thieves, combining for a +18 through the three-game set.
Maybe I have too much faith in them as I did with NRG Esports (we’ll get to them later down these rankings), yet I’m convinced we haven’t seen the true XSET yet in the regular season.
7. Pittsburgh Knights (2-2)
In Week 4, the Knights put me in the dumpster when they pummeled by darling NRG Esports to eliminate them from VCT North America. It’s time for me to open my eyes and give the Knights the credit they deserve, as they beat NRG without even needing their home map of Ascent to take the series.
In particular, former Luminosity Gaming castaway Joseph “ban” Seungmin Oh has turned into a stud for the Knights. He went from bottom fragger as a duelist on Luminosity to serious threat with Pittsburgh. While maybe the spring won’t be the season that they’re in contention to make it to Iceland, a few more months under their belt and the Knights could be a legitimate contender for Masters 2 in the summer.
8. Luminosity Gaming (2-2)
LG pushed C9 to an overtime map in their 0-2 loss over the weekend. Their silver lining, though, from an overall disappointing performance, will be that they’ve qualified for the playoffs thanks to XSET knocking off 100 Thieves.
As a whole, LG can push the top teams and have games where their star players look like the best in the league. But consistency from game to game, even round to round, is an issue they’ll need to fix if they want to last more than two matches in the knockout rounds.
9. Rise (1-3)
Yes, Rise did eventually lose to Sentinels, but it was a vast improvement from previous weeks where the team looked like they were on life support. For a team that is so streaky and maybe the most momentum-based in the entire league, their relatively strong showing versus Sentinels should give them hope to go into their final matchday with NRG Esports.
As long as OpTic can right the ship and take care of Knights, Rise should advance to the playoffs with a win over NRG.
10. NRG Esports (0-4)
NRG are just frustrating. A bit like LG, they have these rounds where I’m left ecstatic on how well they execute an attack or pull off a rapid retake of a site. They have gunners at every single position and have a reliable in-game-leader in the form of James “hazed” Cobb. For whatever reason, though, they could never string together the rounds needed to win matches and bowed out of the VCT.
11. 100 Thieves (0-4)
Where NRG are frustrating, 100 Thieves are depressing. Every good moment during the season quickly turned into the worst possible outcome. In almost every series, it felt as if 100T had a moment where they could turn things around. But then a flubbed backstab would occur, or a player would lose a crucial one-on-one, leading to the team collapsing onto themselves.
12. Evil Geniuses (0-4)
Although they’re at the bottom of our rankings for the umpteenth week, I think EG should feel the best of all the winless teams. Whereas NRG and 100T are teams that were poised to do damage this season, EG have a young group that most didn’t have very lofty expectations for coming in. As seen in their map win over C9, they have the talent to be better than an 0-4 team.
As I said with inconsistent, young sides like Knights and LG, a bit of Mickey Mouse tournament seasoning and a few more months of practice should be the key for a far scarier Geniuses side come summer.
[Disclosure: Luminosity Gaming is a subsidiary of Enthusiast Gaming, which owns and operates Upcomer.]