TSM officially add brax to VALORANT roster as sixth-man
The sixth-man experiment dominating CS:GO is slowly worming its way into competitive VALORANT. As of March 31st, it’s officially undertaking it’s biggest test, with a top team adding a big star after a hugely disappointing outcome in VCT stage one. TSM made the official announcement on Twitter: Braxton “brax” Pierce is joining the team as the sixth member of the VALORANT roster.
TSM themselves acknowledged the disappointing outcome at the end of the VALORANT Champions Tour’s first stage. “This is where our comeback starts.” The team was considered one of the best in all of North America at the end of 2020, and many expected them to make at least a deep run at Masters. However, that wasn’t to be. TSM fell in the round-of-16 in the Challengers 1 open qualifier, losing a heartbreaker in overtime to XSET. At the Challengers 2 open qualifier, it made it to the final round but lost again in heartbreaking fashion to Gen.G. Back-to-back clutch rounds from Gen.G’s koosta meant back-to-back early exits in open qualifiers for TSM.
In the Challengers 3 open qualifier, it finally made it to a Challengers main event after three straight 2-0 victories. At Challengers 3, they even got revenge over Gen.G, and looked like they would finally breakthrough. But then TSM faltered again, losing 2-0 to Luminosity via two underwhelming second halves. Then it was run over by 100 Thieves in the lower bracket, finishing just shy of the placement needed to make Masters.
Brax’s prior time with T1 can also be considered underwhelming. The first iteration of the team formed in mid-2020 failed to impress at early events. In response, the team pulled the trigger on releasing both Victor “food” Wong and Austin “crashies” Roberts. They brought in another former CS:GO teammate and in-game leader in DaZeD and a former Overwatch star in Spyder. This form of the team, with Skadoodle and AZK, qualified for First Strike before losing to eventual champions 100 Thieves. After a disappointing start to VCT, exiting early at Challengers 1 just like TSM, T1 turned heads with the acquisition of CS:GO star autimatic. Fans were thrilled by the idea of autimatic teaming with brax. But were instantly let down when both brax and AZK left less than a week later.
Fast forward to now, and brax joining TSM is yet another poorly kept esports secret. The team was spotted scrimming with him standing in for hazed on Myth’s stream, and hazed himself confirmed it on his own stream. While some suspected brax was replacing hazed, it seems that the team is going ahead with the sixth-man project. This trend became very popular and successful in CS:GO toward the end of 2020. CS:GO teams like Astralis, Team Vitality, and Natus Vincere have used it with varying degrees of success. It’s slowly working its way into VALORANT as well. Cloud9 White used a six-woman roster for their Game Changers 1 run and ended won the trophy. Brax’s old team T1 is trying it with another former Overwatch star in ANS, but that’s more of a developmental role than a tactical one.
In a game like VALORANT, a sixth-man could potentially be even more viable in CS:GO. While the position in CS:GO is more for diversifying a map pool, in VALORANT, it can also diversify an agent pool. There’s lots of room for experimentation, and the results of those experiments could have lasting effects on the competitive atmosphere. TSM VALORANT begins its VCT second stage run in the open qualifiers for Challengers 1, starting April 1.