2021 Champions Tour / Riot

Valorant Champions Tour starts today, here are the teams to watch

The stage is set for the NA Valorant Champions Tour with 128 teams fighting for their chance at the first global Valorant tournament later this year.

So what teams should fans keep their eyes on? Below are just a few of the teams competing in the NA Challengers Series, which takes place from January 27 to March 7. 

1. Sentinels

Sentinels Sinatraa

The Sentinels had an unfortunate run in the First Strike Grand Final where they fell to 100 Thieves, but they are still a team stacked with raw talent and are looking to make a comeback for the Champions Tour this year. The Sentinels are stacked with veteran FPS players such as Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan, Jay "sinatraa" Won, and Hunter "SicK" Mims, this team is nasty and they're looking for redemption. 

In the JBL Quantum Cup, the Sentinels defeated FaZe Clan to take home the first-place trophy, which shot them back up in power rankings and renewed hope in their fans. The Sentinels are the winningest team in Valorant so far and have placed first in five tournaments so far. 

What makes the Sentinels so watchable during the Valorant Champions Tour is each individual team member's ability to pop off at any given moment. The entire team is made up of strong performers and any one of them can turn an unfavorable situation into a favorable one. Their exciting gameplay and individual talent combined with team effort make them a strong contender for the first winner of the Valorant Champions Tour. 

2. 100 Thieves

100 Thieves is an obvious name when fans think of who they'll be watching during the Valorant Champions Tour. They won last year's First Strike tournament and are looking for more victory heading into the Valorant Champions Tour. Armed with their newly signed coach Hector "FrosT" Rosario, the team is ready to show how much of a force 100 Thieves still is. 

Although their roster has seen the most evolution since the beginning of Valorant esports, their decisions have paid off already, and that doesn't look like it's going to change going into the Challengers Series. For the Challengers Series tournament, Jonathan "Silenx" Huntington will be playing in place of Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella while nitr0 spends time with his family after welcoming his first child. 

3. Team SoloMid

Another big name heading into the Valorant Champions Tour is Team Solo Mid. TSM made it all the way to the final in the First Strike tournament but lost to 100 Thieves. 

The team has done pretty well for themselves since entering the Valorant scene. They have secured first place in many tournaments, their most recent being in the FaZe Clan Invitational where they squeaked out a 3-2 victory over the Sentinels. 

If they are to succeed in the tournament, the team needs to focus on their early-game strategy. Their pistol rounds have been their weak spot in games, but fans are hoping that they've taken the time to improve since their second-place spot in the First Strike tournament. 

TSM also has Matt "Wardell" Yu, a nasty Jett main who every opponent fears when he wields the Operator. He is TSM's biggest threat and other teams would be wise to engage with him carefully. 

Valorant Champions Tour teams look to prove themselves

While the top three teams are always going to be on everyone's watch list, there are a lot of fan favorites out there to choose from. FaZe is a team that is looking to improve with more team synergy. Because the majority of the team came from different Overwatch League teams, FaZe has had some catching up to do in terms of grinding the game. They can only get better with more time and more practice as a team. 

Envy is also one to watch out for in the Valorant Champions Tour. They placed in the top four of the First Strike regionals and are still building their chemistry as a team. With very few roster changes, Envy could have an advantage in synergy. 

Cloud9 is a household name in the esports scene, the org has been around for a long time, so naturally, fans flock to their Valorant team as well. They underperformed at the First Strike tournament and didn't make the finals, so the team is hungry for redemption. 

Other favorites that fans saw in the First Strike tournament will likely be climbing the ranks for the Valorant Champions Tour as well. Teams such as T1, Immortals, and Renegades are all top tier teams, and any one of them could have a shot at being top tier in this tournament. 

The open qualifiers start today and will encompass three weekend-length tournaments between January 27 and March 7. Each weekend, the top four teams will automatically enter closed qualifiers for the next event. The top three teams who finish in the Challenger Final will move on to the Masters Stage, which begins March 13.

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