The 2021 VCT run has ended, with the last-chance qualifiers and Champions LAN the only tournaments left to play.
With Masters 3 being the most recent, the results are the most influential. Let's get into the biggest takeaways from the most competitive LAN to date.
Same old regions
It's a new tournament, but the same three regions are sitting at the top of the pack: NA, EU, and CIS - the latter two combining to make EMEA.
Six of the eight playoff teams were from NA or EMEA, and the other two were knocked out in the first round.
KRU, who performed better in Masters 3 than in Masters 2, had the easiest path to the playoffs of any team, so it was no surprise to see them swept by G2.
Vision Strikers made some noise, but they still have to do some work before challenging the major players in professional Valorant.
Right now, I expect to see the same thing play out in Champion's. It might be another year or more before other regions step it up.
Skye enters the pro meta
It's no surprise to see Sova, Jett, and Astra at the top of the pick-rate list alongside map-dependent picks like Viper, Killjoy, and Sage.
A lot of players and viewers wondered how pros would react to the recent Skye changes, which were barely affected by the small post-tournament nerf.
Skye enjoyed a 73.5% pick rate in Masters 3 compared to a 34.1% pick rate in Masters 2.
At the same time, Omen dropped like a rock - going from 29% to 3%. You can probably chalk this up to more teams mastering Astra, who was new at the time.
Barring any additional nerfs, I expect to see Skye's pick rate remain steady heading into Last Chance and Champs.
Vision Strikers aren't far off
Vision Strikers made their international LAN debut at Masters 3. They were the hipster pick of the tournament, with pundits wishing them into the finals before the event even happened.
We learned a lot about VS in Masters 3. They swept Acend in the Group Stage and qualified for the playoffs, but fell short against the eventual winners, Gambit.
That being said, they took Split from Gambit after a tough loss on Bind.
Gambit looked dominant in most of their other matchups throughout, so it's a good international debut for Vision Strikers. They look to be the underdog pick going into Champions as well.
Gambit look dominant
Gambit didn't have the same dominant run that Sentinels did in Stage 2, but they looked great as they swept their way to the championship.
Gambit only lost two maps on the event: Split to Vision Strikers and Icebox to 100 Thieves.
Apart from those two hiccups, Gambit was a dominant force throughout. Now that they have a spot in Champions, we can't wait to see if they can recreate their success when the stakes are even higher.
Sentinels are playing for Champions
This could be the Sentinels fanboy in me, but I still feel like the squad is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
Again, I could be way off here, but I truly feel like Sentinels have a banger Ascent that they don't want anyone to see. They banned it the entire tournament, and last time they did that with Bind, they won the whole event.
Sentinels went into Masters 3 already having a spot in Champions, where the prestige and prize money are both a lot higher. They qualified through the group stage and kept it close against Envy without giving away too many strategies we haven't already seen.
Either that, or I'm way off and the Sentinels' dominant era has ended. I guess we'll need to see.