Valorant team OpTic Gaming pose onstage at tournamentValorant team OpTic Gaming pose onstage at tournament

What you should know about the NA VCT Stage 2 playoffs

by Sage Datuin

Twelve teams entered the North American VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 2 Challengers group stage. Now, after a competitive set of group stage matches that was filled with major upsets and dominant victories, eight teams are left competing for two spots at VCT Masters: Copenhagen along with a share of the $200,000 prize pool.

What’s at stake?

Although only two North American teams will qualify for Masters: Copenhagen, teams are also looking to collect circuit points to either directly qualify for VCT Champions 2022 or try to qualify via the NA Last Chance Qualifier. As of right now, the circuit point standings look like this, with bolded point totals subject to change:

  • OpTic Gaming: 785 points
  • The Guard: 220 points
  • XSET: 80 points
  • Cloud9: 70 points
  • Luminosity Gaming: 70 points
  • 100 Thieves: 50 points
  • NRG: 50 points
  • Evil Geniuses: 45 points
  • FaZe Clan: 45 points
  • Sentinels: 45 points

Cutoff line for Last Chance Qualifier

  • Ghost Gaming: 35 points

Photo credit: Riot Games

Currently, Ghost Gaming are on the outs for a spot in the NA Last Chance Qualifier. However, if Ghost Gaming win one match in the playoffs, they will knock out Sentinels from the LCQ. Meanwhile, all the other teams competing in the Stage 2 playoffs have already locked in a spot in the LCQ with Cloud9 if they fail to qualify directly for Champions. The top two teams in the circuit point standings will qualify for Champions.

The eight teams left competing in NA Stage 2 Challengers playoffs are the following:

Group A

  • XSET
  • Ghost Gaming
  • 100 Thieves
  • NRG

Group B

  • OpTic Gaming
  • FaZe Clan
  • Evil Geniuses
  • Luminosity Gaming

For some teams, their path to Copenhagen will be easier due to having byes in the upper bracket. Other teams, however, will start in the lower bracket and will have to make a long run if they want to be one of the two teams to represent NA in Denmark.

NA VCT Stage 2 playoff schedule

Photo credit: Nerd Street

This is the schedule of all 12 matches that will be played throughout the event (all times ET):

Upper bracket quarterfinals: Thursday, June 16

  • Match 1: FaZe Clan vs. 100 Thieves at 4 p.m.
  • Match 2: Ghost Gaming vs. Evil Geniuses at 7 p.m.

Lower bracket round 1: Friday, June 17

  • Match 3: NRG vs. Loser of Ghost Gaming/Evil Geniuses at 4 p.m.
  • Match 4: Luminosity Gaming vs. Loser of FaZe Clan/100 Thieves at 7 p.m.

Upper bracket semifinals: Saturday, June 18

  • Match 5: XSET vs. Winner of FaZe Clan/100 Thieves at 4 p.m.
  • Match 6: OpTic Gaming vs. Winner of Ghost Gaming/Evil Geniuses at 7 p.m.

Lower bracket round 2: Sunday, June 19

  • Match 7: Winner of Match 3 vs Loser of Match 6 at 4 p.m.
  • Match 8: Winner Match 4 vs Loser of Match 5 at 7 p.m.

Upper bracket final: Friday, June 24

  • Match 9: Winner of Match 5 vs Winner of Match 6 at 4 p.m.

Lower bracket semifinal: Friday, June 24

  • Match 10: Winner of Match 7 vs Winner of Match 8 at 9 p.m.

Lower bracket finals: Saturday, June 25

  • Match 11: Loser of Match 9 vs Winner of Match 10 at 4 p.m.

Grand final: Sunday, June 26

  • Match 12: Winner of Match 9 vs Winner of Match 11 at 4 p.m.

All matches, aside from the upper bracket final, lower bracket final and the grand final will be played as a best-of-three match. The three exceptions will be in a best-of-five format.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Matchup previews

We don’t know all of the matchups that will take place during the playoffs, but we do know two of the opening matchups that will dictate the rest of the schedule for the bracket.

FaZe Clan vs. 100 Thieves

Group B second seed FaZe Clan will match up against Group A's third seed 100 Thieves in a battle between two rebuilt lineups. Both teams have shown an immense level of potential in their respective groups. With the additions of former Rise members Kevin “poised” Ngo and Phat “supamen” Le, FaZe Clan have risen up to become a standout in Group B. Both players have become vital parts of the team alongside FaZe veteran Andrej “babybay” Francisty.

However, 100 Thieves’ new lineup centered around star Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk also has quickly risen to become a dark horse in Group A. When 100 Thieves were on point, they were dominant. All three of their match wins were 2-0. However, the same could be said for 100 Thieves in their losses as well. This is a close matchup between two teams who finished 3-2 in the group stage. Picking a favorite for this matchup is tough. It will all depend on momentum and who wins the first game of this series.

Ghost Gaming vs. Evil Geniuses

Group A second seed Ghost Gaming will match up against Group B third seed Evil Geniuses as the two underdogs turned favorites match up in this intense opener. Both Ghost Gaming and Evil Geniuses had little expectations placed on them heading into the group stage. However, both teams have quickly proved that they are to not be taken lightly after nearly topping their respective groups.

Evil Geniuses were the only team to take a win over Masters: Reykjavík champions OpTic Gaming. Although their magic fizzled out toward the end of the group stage, the young guns have an opportunity to take down a new favorite in the tournament. Ghost Gaming have been the biggest surprise of this stage so far, with their only loss being to Group A first seed XSET. Ghost Gaming dominated everyone else as they had the best round differential of any team in the group stage. If Ghost Gaming can continue their group stage performance and extend it into the playoffs, then they should be the favorites in this matchup.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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