VALORANT First Strike is the first official tournament sanctioned by Riot Games' in 2020. First Strike will take place across the globe with regional qualifiers and finals. Who will win the inaugural VALORANT First Strike tournament?
What is VALORANT First Strike?
Officially announced on September 23, 2020, the VALORANT First Strike tournament is the first major esports event for VALORANT that has been sanctioned by Riot Games. First Strike takes place after a number of successful Ignition Series events, which saw the publisher partner up with endemic tournament organisers to host a number of competitions designed to grow the esports scene
First Strike is taking place across the globe, with regional open qualifiers, closed qualifiers, and finals taking place in North America, Europe, CIS, Turkey, Asia, Oceania, Brazil, and the Middle East among others. The open qualifiers took place in October and the closed qualifiers in November, with the online finals taking place at the beginning of December.
Format of the First Strike Qualifier
To qualify for the First Strike Main event, teams have had to play matches through a series of open and closed qualifiers. What’s interesting is that the open qualifier format meant established professional teams had to compete in a bracket against amateurs to qualify for the Main event.
In Europe, qualifying took place as four open qualifiers (A/B and C/D) (each of which was played as a round of 128) played over two weeks, with the top 16 teams progressing to one of two play-offs stages where they could earn qualification. The top eight teams from the play-offs stages then qualified for the Main event.
In North America, qualification was hosted by two tournament organisers, Nerd Street Gamers (NSG) and UMG. NSG hosted one open qualifier (round of 128) and one closed qualifier (round of 32), while UMG hosted two open qualifiers (round of 128) and one closed qualifier (round of 8). The top eight teams from the qualifiers have progressed to the Main event.
Which teams have qualified for the First Strike tournament?
For First Strike Europe and North America, the top eight teams from each region’s qualifiers progress to the Main event starting on December 3, 2020 . The teams that have qualified so far for the event are:
- G2 Esports (A / B)
- Team Liquid (A / B)
- FunPlus Phoenix (A / B)
- SUMN FC (A / B)
- nolpenki (C / D)
- Prodigy (C / D)
- Purple Cobras (C / D)
- Team Heretics (C / D)
- Envy (NSG)
- 100 Thieves (NSG)
- Sentinels (NSG)
- Renegades (NSG)
- Team SoloMid (UMG)
- FaZe Clan (UMG)
- T1 (UMG)
- Immortals (UMG)
Who will win the inaugural First Strike tournament?
First Strike represents the final major event for VALORANT esports in 2020 and will be the definitive tournament to decide who the best teams from each region are.
In Europe, G2 Esports (G2) look to be the strong favourites to win the First Strike tournament, given their dominance in previous months that saw them claim 1st place in a variety of Ignition series events, such as the BLAST Twitch Invitational, the Allied Esports Odyssey, and the WePlay! Invitational.
The team also enter the Main event as the overall number one seed in Europe given their 36/3/2 win/loss/draw match record (an 88% win rate) - with Ascent being their most picked map and Jett being their most picked agent. Ardis “Ardiis” Svarenieks has consistently been the player on the team with the highest Average Combat Score (ACS) and will be the catalyst for success for the team in the Main event in December.
Looking over at the North American First Strike tournament, Sentinels (SEN) and Team SoloMid (TSM) are the frontrunners to perform well, however the competition from rising teams like Envy and 100 Thieves could disrupt the overall standings as we get closer to the Main event.
Focusing on Sentinels specifically - given that they are currently number one overall in North America on a 43/9/0 win/loss/draw match record (83% win rate) - the team previously won the Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational and PAX Arena VALORANT Invitational, in addition to finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively at the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational and Pulse Invitational earlier on in the year. Their most played map is Bind and most played agent is Cypher. The player to watch in SEN is their duelist player Jay “sinatraa” Won, who has dominated the competition on his signature agent pick, Phoenix.