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Top
Valorant

VCT Masters 3 Berlin North America Preview: High hopes and high expectations

Scott Robertson

International, offline VALORANT is coming back, and it’s taking over Berlin, Germany at VCT Masters 3. All 16 teams have now been confirmed, and the recent format change to allow for an eight-team playoff has only gotten fans and players even more excited.

Will Sentinels hold on to their throne in Berlin? (Image via Riot Games).

For those that are only tuning into Masters events for whatever reason, there are going to be a plethora of fresh faces in Berlin, and not just because of the expanded format. Seven of the ten teams that attended Reykjavík are not in Berlin, including three of the top four. Only KRU Esports from Latin America, Crazy Raccoon from Japan, and the reigning champions from North America, Sentinels, are appearing in their second international LAN.

With 13 teams that have never appeared before on an international stage, we’re going to have to spend a little time getting to know all of them. Naturally, we start with the region hosting the reigning champions in North America. And speaking of the reigning champs, let’s talk about…

Sentinels

VCT Masters 2 Reykjavik sentinels

Sentinels are in a league of their own, with ShahZaM and TenZ leading the way. (Image via Riot Games)

  • Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, primary agents: Jett, Reyna
  • Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, primary agents: Sova, Jett
  • Hunter “SicK” Mims, primary agents: Phoenix, Sage
  • Michael “dapr” Gulino, primary agents: Cypher, Killjoy
  • Jared “zombs” Gitlin, primary agents: Astra, Viper

The Sentinels roster is in a rather unique position heading into their second international VALORANT LAN as the defending champs. When it comes to legacy, they have the most to lose as they’re regarded by many as the best VALORANT Team in the world. Their run-through Stage Three, with only one series loss, indicates thought that there’s been no regression or slowing down. Thus, the team is expected to make a deep run in Berlin, if not win the entire event.

The irony is that Sentinels was the first of now only two teams, along with KRU Esports, to already secure a spot at Champions. Meaning they could come dead last in Berlin and still be locked in for the world championships. In fact, they could have finished dead last in the NA Challengers Playoffs and still directly qualified for Champions. Along with KRU, they’re the only team that doesn’t need to perform well when it comes to making Champions.

But in the Sentinels camp, the belief is that they need to have another strong showing in Berlin, and the expectation is that they will. After their second win against 100 Thieves, SicK said he wasn’t too concerned with international teams planning or stratting for them. According to him, the team’s ability to change their playstyle and pace means that even a team that’s prepared for Sentinels won’t be able to neutralize them.

It’s not hard to see why Sentinels is regarded so highly, and that’s not just from staring at their impressive results page. They have some of the best players in NA at each position/vital agent. ShahZaM on Sova, TenZ on duelist, zombs on controller, dapr on sentinel, and SicK filling in at the flex. All five of them are highly proficient with their abilities, can hold their own with rifles, and their synergy is top-tier. Sentinels has to be thinking about the potential of a trifecta; lifting the trophies of Masters Reykjavik, Masters Berlin, and Champions. Reminiscent of Ninjas in Pyjamas’ 87-0 LAN record in the first years of CS:GO, the NA favorites are on the precipice of setting a milestone that no one might ever catch.

100 Thieves

First Strike

100 Thieves struck first, and now look forward to being the last ones standing. (Photo courtesy 100 Thieves)

  • Spencer “Hiko” Martin, primary agents: Sova
  • Joshua “steel” Nissan, primary agents: Killjoy, Cypher, KAY/O
  • Ethan “ethan” Arnold, primary agents: Skye
  • Nick “nitr0” Cannella, primary agents: Omen, Astra, Viper
  • Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk, primary agents: Jett, Reyna

After a couple of shortcomings in the final North American events of the first two VCT stages, 100 Thieves finally broke through when it mattered most. With their spot at an international VALORANT LAN secured for the first time, they finally reach the offline environment their focal point Hiko says the team was built for.

The way they constructed this roster and the compositions they run are interesting, perhaps even backward by some standards. This roster is filled with savvy, experienced NA CS:GO veterans with a plethora of high-level LAN experience. However, the playstyle is designed to create kills and opportunities for their least experienced player, the 18-year old all-around duelist Asuna. Despite this, they’ve been very successful, and have even been able to alter their composition while maintaining the solo duelist focus.

This is the way forwards for a team looking to win now; surround a young rising star with experienced and proven winning players. Steel is regarded as one of the smartest minds in tactical shooters. Hiko is heavily relied upon in clutch scenarios. Nitr0 and Ethan are two proven winners fresh off periods of sustained success in CS:GO.

There’s a path to future sustained success for 100T, with Asuna being only 18 and Ethan only being 23. But the leadership in steel and Hiko are on the plus-side of 30, and the organization has proven in other titles they’re not afraid to make changes if they’re not at the top level. They did so already with the first version of the 100T VALORANT roster. You’ve got to believe it’s Champions-or-bust for 100 Thieves, and it starts at VCT Masters 3 Berlin.

Team Envy

yay

After years languishing in NA CS:GO, and months of instability on Andbox VALORANT, yay is taking matters into his own hands. (Image via Complexity)

  • Pujan “FNS” Metha, primary agents: Killjoy
  • Victor “Victor” Wong, primary agents: Raze, Skye
  • Austin “crashies” Roberts, primary agents: Sova
  • Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen, primary agents: Astra, Viper
  • Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, primary agents: Jett

The group surrounding in-game leader FNS is now entirely different from the group he joined Team Envy with back in summer 2020. The team he played early VCT matches with, with kaboose and mummAy, wasn’t even bad by any means. They finished top four at both Masters One and the Challengers Finals, effectively locking in a Last Chance Qualifier spot at the very least.

But a little something was missing, so they first brought in a dedicated controller who is reliable with the rifle in Marved. Then, they swung big on a huge upgrade to their primary Jett role, acquiring the rising stock of yay who was looking for a way out of another Andbox rebuilding phase. They narrowly made it past their usual fourth place finish at the Challengers Playoffs, but it was enough to secure a spot in Berlin.

When Hotspawn spoke to FNS, he said there was a noticeable improvement in mechanics across the team, but the biggest difference he noticed was in decision-making. He says that everyone on the team can be relied upon to be able to hold an angle or a site on their own. FNS also praised the leadership of Marved, specifically when he got the team re-focused after their slow start against FaZe Clan.

The arrival of yay has done wonders for the team, who are thrilled at the number of opening duels he can win and the plays they can make off of that. And yay loves playing on Envy; he’s happy that he gets to “compete for his dreams” by playing at an international level, and he’s less burdened with the thought of having to carry consistently. An already good team with a core of FNS, victor, and crashies has now gotten better. While they may enter Masters Three as a third seed, they’re by no means third-wheeling Sentinels and 100 Thieves’ date with destiny in Berlin. But you have no excuse to sleep on a team with a player called El Diablo on the roster.