We're now four weeks into the five-week group stage for NA VCT Challengers 1. It's tough to say that the performance of these teams are "flukes," and we're beginning to see the cream rise to the top.
Of course, the playoffs will tell us more than we know right now, but the playoff picture is beginning to take shape. NRG, 100T, and EG will all miss the playoffs while The Guard, C9, Version1, and Sentinels have guaranteed themselves a spot.
Now, only Rise sits on the bubble while the rest of the teams play for seeding. Here's a recap of some of the biggest stories from this past week.
Week 4 of the Stage 1 #VCTChallengersNA Main Event was an absolute banger and we've got our Top 5 Plays of the Week to recap all the amazing highlights! pic.twitter.com/ktbmNrDWg7— VALORANT Champions Tour NA (@valesports_na) March 8, 2022
The Guard is for real
It's not a surprise to see a red-hot Guard handle Evil Geniuses with a 2-0 sweep. What's surprising is that this team has risen to the top of NA Valorant after coming together only months earlier.
Sayaplayer, formerly of the defunct T1 roster, is showing himself to be very comfortable with the switch to NA, dropping 50 eliminations on Jett in the matchup with EG.
The real test will come for Guard this week, when they face Cloud9 - arguably the best team in NA right now. This will be the best match of week 5, to be sure.
Whether Guard wins or loses vs Cloud9, they've shown themselves to be a new solid contender in NA.
100 Thieves is not good
As a fan of the once-great 100 Thieves Valorant roster, it's truly sad to see how far they've fallen in a matter of only about six months.
This team used to be at the top of the NA pack, now they sit 0-4 with losses to every team in their group except Evil Geniuses.
Although both of the aforementioned teams are already eliminated, all eyes will be on 100T to see if they can stave-off being the worst team to make the Main Event.
It's not news that 100T is bad, anymore. Now, we're just seeing how low they go. Pray for a turnaround, 100T fans.
OpTic and Version1 trade blows
The most bizarre matchup of the week has to have been OpTic vs Version1.
Both teams traded blowout wins, with OpTic taking Acent 13-2 and V1 taking Haven and Icebox 13-5.
This was, truly, a weird series to watch. After game one, it looked like OpTic would run away with it, but V1 rallied and completely turned the tables.
It was strange to see, as OpTic isn't known to be overly weak on these two maps. Either V1 has some next-level strats or OpTic lost focus after map 1 - potentially thrown off by how fast it was over.