Week four of the North American VCT Challengers One group stage is all wrapped up. The three previously undefeated VALORANT teams in Cloud9, Version1, and The Guard retained their win streaks and spots atop the rankings. The winless NRG, 100 Thieves, and Evil Geniuses have all been eliminated and now have to look ahead to the next set of open qualifiers.
Last week’s rankings saw a great deal of movement. Nine of the 12 teams changed places, with four of them moving up or down by three whole ranks. This week, however, was quite different, with 10 of the 12 teams staying put while the other two only moved up or down a single rank.
Here are Dot Esports’ power rankings for NA VCT 2022 Challengers One after week four.
Dead in the water: 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses, NRG Esports
All three teams here needed a win in week four just to have a small chance at reaching the playoffs, but they all fell short.
The biggest story at the bottom of the standings during this stage has been 100 Thieves—a team that received a direct invite to the main event, debuted new players, dropped those players after two losses, then picked up two stand-ins they arguably could have just gotten in the offseason. 100T played XSET in week four, losing decisively on Bind after splitting two competitive maps on Breeze and Fracture.
In week five, 100T will play EG, another 0-4 team coming off a brutal loss to the undefeated The Guard. With the likes of C9 and The Guard in their group, EG needed to win at least one of their first two series against either LG or XSET to have a chance at the playoffs. The EG camp shouldn’t be too despondent, though. This roster has the newest core of any other team in the group stage and very few expected them to even make the main event.
NRG had a weird group stage. In some weeks, they looked capable of beating top teams like Sentinels and Version1, but in others, they were getting decisively beaten by OpTic and XSET. Outside of their Jett main s0m, the team struggled throughout the entire stage and failed to capitalize on some genuine opportunities.
Fighting for the final spot: OpTic Gaming and Rise
Both OpTic and Rise fumbled their opportunities to secure a playoff spot this week, handing a spot to the surging Knights and putting all the pressure on their own week five matchups.
Much like NRG did in week one, Rise squandered a one-map lead over Sentinels, unable to stop the reigning Masters Reykjavik champion’s attacking side or prevent SicK from having a Team of the Week-worthy performance on Fracture and Bind.
OpTic faced a similar struggle against Version1, dominating the undefeated team on Ascent to start the series but eventually falling after decisive back-to-back losses on Haven and Icebox. It was a dismal showing for Victor, averaging less than nine kills per map after three solid series in the previous weeks.
OpTic control their own destiny going into week five. A win from them secures a playoff spot regardless of the outcome of Rise vs. NRG. But if OpTic loses to a Knights team that’s won two straight, a Rise victory over NRG would send Rise to the playoffs via the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Plenty to prove in playoffs: Sentinels, XSET, Luminosity, Knights
It wasn’t pretty, but all four of Sentinels, XSET, LG, and Knights have secured their spot in the playoffs.
The dominant Sentinels from last year still haven’t fully appeared yet, but NA’s overall best team from 2021 have shown that they’re tough to put away so far. For the third time in this stage, they recovered from a map one loss, this week beating Rise via wins on Fracture and Bind. While TenZ has been quiet the past two weeks, SicK stepped up big this week against Rise across three different roles.
XSET shut the door on a potential playoff run for 100T this week and in doing so secured a spot for themselves despite losing the two series prior. Cryocells has been a pivotal part of XSET’s success this stage and he delivered again with two splendid maps on Breeze and Split with Jett and Chamber, respectively.
Luminosity may have fallen to C9 this week, but their earlier wins against EG and 100T in addition to both of those teams losing this week means their playoff future is ensured. They fell decisively on Haven, C9’s pick and one of their best maps, but came just a round away from taking Bind and forcing a map three against the undefeated LCQ champions. XSET and LG will meet in week five in a tune-up match for the playoffs.
Two straight wins from Knights against Rise and NRG were all the team needed to reach the playoffs. Their schedule started rough with losses to Version1 and Sentinels, but the Knights took the lessons they learned and applied them in their victories over Rise and NRG. The trio of XXiF, skuba, and ban have been instrumental in their past two wins and will need to step up again if they have hopes of making a deep playoff run.
Undefeated and undisputed, for now: Cloud9, Version1, The Guard
C9 and The Guard are on a week five collision course where two of the most dominant looking and undefeated teams will meet to determine who achieves a perfect 5-0 record. Both teams secured comfortable two-map series victories this week, with each team’s primary Jett players in C9’s leaf and The Guard’s Sayaplayer stepping up for their respective squads.
Version1 faced their toughest test so far in their increasingly difficult schedule. After a double-digit round loss to OpTic on their own map pick of Haven, they rallied with dominant 13-5 wins on both Haven and Icebox, which included a 12-round win streak on Haven. There isn’t a player on V1 who hasn’t stepped up at some point this stage and they’ll need that same amount of individual playmaking against Sentinels next week, as well as in the playoffs.