A way-too-early look at the NA power dynamic for VCT 2023.
The VALORANT offseason leading into the first year of the partnership ecosystem has not disappointed. High-profile player moves and unpredictable new rosters have highlighted the time since Champions ended, promising a highly anticipated start to the 2023 season, beginning with the Kickoff tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil in February.
One of the most prolific regions over the past two years, in terms of talent and viewership, has been North America. And with only five NA organizations competing in the Americas league next year, it was a given that there would be a flurry of exciting offseason moves during free agency.
With the moves now made months before the Kickoff in Brazil, the time has come to hand out some grades to each of the five North American partnered teams competing in the VCT Americas league next year.
C9 won the sweepstakes. They picked up the best mechanical player in the world in yay and arguably the most deadly player in the world with an Operator in his hands. Picking up yay is a slam dunk for any team, but an underrated move is C9’s Zellsis pickup. Zellsis is a flex specialist who put up incredible numbers and highlights for V1 and Sentinels, and he’s reuniting with the IGL that first brought out his best. This team’s synergy is already strong and they’re only going to get stronger.
Of the North American rosters, this Sentinels one is perhaps the most volatile and easily has the largest gap between its floor and its ceiling. As incredibly gifted mechanically as TenZ is, he’s still coming off a down year and will be playing with all new teammates in a new system. The new group is missing pre-existing cohesion with the core since it consists of two separate duos flanking their star Operator player, while also navigating a potential language barrier. There’s upside here without a doubt. TenZ can flourish with a structure that maximizes his strengths rather than just solely relying on them, but there’s a larger chance to fail compared to some of the other teams.
There was no path for the OpTic core to come out ahead after losing arguably the world’s best Chamber/duelist Operator player and the world’s best controller in one offseason. But despite the losses, the new-look roster formed on NRG is about as good as you could ask for given the situation. Ardiis was arguably the best yay substitute available: someone prolific on the Operator, with even a little more agent flexibility, and with big match experience. It’s possible we see more FNS on controller as s0m has traditionally been more of a flex option, but the renowned coach Chet has a lot of options to work with and time to figure it out.
100 Thieves found something special in the midst of 2022, which must have felt like a relief after what was a disastrous start to the 2022 campaign. Every young player on the team took a massive step forward, so for the most part, 100T has kept the roster intact, with the exception of the duelist role. Will is a great player, but 100T would be foolish to have left a chance to upgrade with Cryocells slip by.
Evil Geniuses is running it back with the five-man roster it finished the 2022 season with. But they won’t be alone. In a similar approach to how the org is competing in CS:GO, EG will be filling as many roster slots as it can with a 10-man roster, beginning with the pickups of BcJ from XSET and Ethan from NRG. If there’s an organization with a proven track record for developing talent, it’s EG, and both BcJ and Ethan will be valuable in teaching the younger players. But there’s an ocean of talent available that EG passed on. Plus, one of the 10 slots is a reward for an open tryout showcase.