VCT LOCK//IN sees most competitive start for major VALORANT region internationally since 2021

A fresh dose of hopium.

Is professional VALORANT headed into another North America-dominant year? It’s certainly looking that way after an incredibly hot start to the VCT LOCK//IN event in Sao Paulo, with NA firing on all cylinders after the first round of the Alpha bracket.

NRG Esports, Cloud9, and Evil Geniuses all won their opening round matches via 2-0 victories against KOI, Paper Rex, and Team Heretics, respectively. As of writing, not only is NA the only region not to lose a series, it’s the only one not to lose a single map so far.

Each team impressed in their opening victory. NRG was able to shake off some rust and show resiliency with a huge comeback win on Icebox to kick off the tournament. C9 dominated one of last year’s top international teams in Paper Rex. Evil Geniuses hushed the doubters with a statement win over Heretics, and even showed their creative side with a fruitful Yoru pick on Pearl.

The hot start harkens back to the early days of NA dominance internationally at the first VCT Masters events of 2021. At Masters Reykjavik 2021, both Sentinels and Version1 won their openers 2-0, and Sentinels went on to win the event without dropping a single map. Then at Masters Berlin, Sentinels, 100T, and Team Envy all won their opening matches and cruised comfortably past groups into playoffs.

At both Masters 2022 events, NA struggled early. OpTic, despite placing highly at both events and even winning Reykjavík, started both tournaments with losses, and both The Guard and XSET lost two straight in playoffs. However at Champions 2022, the trio of OpTic, XSET, and 100T all won their opening matchups, with both OpTic and XSET putting on strong showings in playoffs.

Still, the strong start at VCT LOCK//IN is the first time where three separate NA teams won 2-0 to kick off an international tournament. Whether or not the region can claim the extra spot at Masters Tokyo remains to be seen, but even with such a small sample size, the early success has electrified North American fans.

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