Sentinels stormed the A bombsite on Haven, forcing Joshua “steel” Nissan off of the site and towards the rest of 100 Thieves. They planted the spike and prepared to defend it and take the final round in the best-of-five series. The next precious seconds were filled with a flurry of abilities as 100 Thieves retook the bombsite.
Sentinels dropped their Astra’s Cosmic Divide to segment off the enemy team while 100 Thieves used their own ultimates to brute force their way past the magenta wall.
After trading kills back and forth, the round came down to a one-vs-one of each team’s Sova as Spencer “Hiko” Martin hunted down Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan while the spike ticked down to its final seconds.
Hiko eventually took down ShahZam in his off-site position but was too late to save the round, dying in the spike explosion that won Sentinels the VALORANT Champions Tour Challengers Playoffs grand finals. The win also locked in their top seed for VALORANT’s next international LAN: VCT Masters 3: Berlin.
Or did it?
What do we really know about Masters 3
As of publishing of this article, it is unknown whether Sentinels – or any VCT Masters 3: Berlin qualified teams – have earned seeding for their placements in the qualifying tournaments for the upcoming premier VALORANT tournament.
The only information professionals, and the public, know about the event so far is how many teams are qualifying from each region, its start date and that the winner earns a slot at the year-end tournament: VCT Champions.
For Hiko, the lack of information from Riot Games about the Masters level event is frustrating.
“I just want more transparency,” Hiko said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that Riot can do that will let us as pros know as much as we can instead of like fumbling around last minute like, ‘oh, what does the seeding actually mean?’”
As for when players will get information on the seeding implications for their qualifying tournament placements, Riot Games told Upcomer that they are planning to release the information once all of the qualified teams are locked in.
If this information was released, some teams may have switched up their compositions or played with the goal to earn a specific seed according to ShahZaM.
“When you don’t know you kind of just want to play for the best seed,” ShahZaM said. “So you get the best possible scenario.”
Currently, there are five spots up for grabs at VCT Masters 3: Berlin. North America, South Korea, Europe, the Middle East and Africa are the only regions to have locked in all of their representatives to the international event so far.
Pros want a group stage at Berlin
Since nothing is known about the upcoming tournament, speculation around what the format could be is fair game. Last Masters, VCT Masters 2: Reykjavík, Riot cooked up a 10-team double-elimination bracket. VALORANT’s biggest two regions by player base – according to Riot – in North America and Europe were awarded with a bye for their top seeded teams.
The rest of the bracket was filled in by a randomizer that also seeded teams from the same regions into opposite ends of the bracket to avoid inter-regional competition early on.
With the increased number of teams, a new format is a must. For VALORANT pros that come from Counter-Strike, a similar format to their previous title is preferred.
“Coming from CS, everything was pretty much groups,” 100 Thieves’ Ethan Arnold said. “So I prefer that. Honestly I hope we have double elimination, no best of ones, just so we get the most play time possible against European teams.”
100 Thieves’ coach Hector “FrosT” Rosario said he would like to see a Swiss groups format. The format, popularized in Switzerland chess tournaments, has teams play other teams that have a similar record in their group. Swiss groups cut down on needless round-robin style matchups and theoretically create the best matchups for teams skill-wise.
“I’ve always preferred Swiss, especially towards the end of our major runs,” FrosT said.
As for the specific group stage format, Senintels’ Michael “dapr” Gulino said he would like to see Global StarCraft II League, or GSL, style groups with a twist.
“I think ideally, the first seed out of every region gets to pick who is in their group, going down,” Dapr said. “That’d be cool.”
But at the end of Challengers Playoffs, for the perennial VALORANT champions and top team in the world, the upcoming tournament and its format is just another tournament trophy to take.
“I’m just showing up on the day, format don’t matter,” said Sentinels player Hunter “SicK” Mims after winning the Challengers Playoffs grand finals.