Ghost Gaming go undefeated to win Nerd Street Champs

by Brian Bencomo

The last team eliminated from contention for the VALORANT Champions Tour North America Last Chance Qualifier was also the last team standing at VALORANT Nerd Street Champs. Ghost Gaming beat TSM Academy on Sunday to win the summer season of VALORANT Nerd Street Champs.

Ghost came into the Nerd Street Champs finals this weekend via the Nerd Street Champs Last Chance Qualifier, which took place on Thursday. They went 2-0 in the LCQ to advance to Day 1 of the finals. Ghost dropped one map but once again went 2-0 to advance to Day 2. On Day 2, it was more of the same as Ghost Gaming went 2-0 with only one map dropped to advance to the playoffs.

Ghost Gaming turned their level of play up a notch on Sunday as they went undefeated and didn’t drop any maps to be crowned Nerd Street champions. From the LCQ through the playoffs, Ghost went 9-0 with a map record of 18-2.

Among players who competed in at least 200 rounds during the Nerd Street Champs finals, Gianfranco “koalanoob” Potestio led all players with a 262 ACS and 1.63 K/D. Alex "aproto" Protopapas was not far behind in K/D. He finished third among all players with a 1.46 K/D.

Photo credit: David Patlut / Nerd Street

“We came in here with a lot of confidence,” Marc-Andre "NiSMO" Tayar said in a postmatch broadcast interview following the grand final. “We came in here thinking we were gonna win and we did it.”

Overall, it was an excellent tournament run by Ghost Gaming, the highest ranked team in North America that competed at Nerd Street Champs this weekend. Ghost are currently ranked No. 5 in NA by VLR.gg. They’re just behind OpTic Gaming, XSET, 100 Thieves and FaZe Clan.

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Despite being the highest ranked team in the tournament, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Ghost would win Nerd Street Champs, especially since they had to start their run on Thursday in the LCQ. Ghost beat three other top 20 ranked teams along the way: Soniqs, ex-SoaR Gaming and TSM Academy. Ghost Gaming’s matchup against Soniqs on Saturday was their closest match this weekend. Each team won a map by 13-11 scores, and Ghost took the deciding map on Pearl 13-5.

As for what’s next for Ghost Gaming, their 2022 VCT season is over, but they likely will compete in some third-party tournaments over the next few months in preparation for the 2023 VCT season.

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“I think for us it’s pretty much executing everything we’ve practiced during our scrims,” said NiSMO about what the team has to do to be successful in the next VCT season. “I think the whole world saw during [VCT] group stage that we pretty much have a really strong team and as long as we play our game we’re a top contender.”

The past two Nerd Street Champs winners have a good track record of success in future VCT events. Cloud9 won Nerd Street Champs last summer and went on to win the NA Last Chance Qualifier to compete at VCT Champions 2021. XSET won Nerd Street Champs this winter and qualified for Masters: Copenhagen and VCT Champions 2022.

Honorable mentions

Photo credit: David Patlut / Nerd Street

Among the teams that didn’t win, TSM Academy and ex-SoaR Gaming put up the most impressive results. TSM have been looking for better results in VALORANT over the past year, and this runner-up finish by TSM Academy is certainly something the organization can be proud of. The whole point of an academy team is to develop players, and this was certainly a big step forward for all the players on TSM Academy. TSM are ranked 14th in NA by VLR, and TSM Academy are now ranked 17th. They will actually face each other Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the MCT Premiership S3. Can TSM Academy beat TSM? Suddenly, that matchup has become even more intriguing.

Ex-SoaR Gaming might have been dropped by SoaR, but they look like a formidable squad that some organization should sign. They beat TSM Academy, Soniqs and Oxygen Academy this weekend and skyrocketed from being ranked 27th in NA to 13th. They beat The Guard during a Nerd Street Champs online qualifier last month, so their performance this weekend was no fluke. Ex-SoaR will be a team to watch in the coming months to see if the entire roster gets picked up or if individual players get signed.

Lead photo credit: David Patlut / Nerd Street

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