Apex Legends’ Team Canyon took first place in the ESPN Esports Valorant Invitational, defeating Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Team Mirage.
The battle royale title’s combination of fast-paced gunplay and hero shooter mechanics translated perfectly to Riot Games’ new game. The team went 3-0 in the group stage and advanced to the grand finals at the expense of Overwatch’s Team Heroes before sealing the deal with a 2-1 series win.
Team Mirage got off to an electrifying start on the first map of the grand finals, Bind, by breaking off nine straight rounds. Things took a hard turn in the second half as Team Canyon brought things as close as 10-7, but a clutch from Spencer “Hiko” Martin let the CSGO squad settle down and close out the opening victory.
Things switched over to Haven in game two. The first half was hotly contested, with both teams breaking off a few rounds at a time. A solid start in the second half by Team Canyon threatened to end things early but more strong play from Hiko allowed Mirage to briefly take the lead. Canyon rallied back and advanced to match point but Mirage looked ready to steal the win with a huge eco round. Instead, Lucas “Mendo” Håkansson slammed the door shut with a huge clutch to force a game three.
The decider took place on Split and while the map was initially likened to Nuke, which heavily favors the defensive side, the first half was razor thin. The two teams trading the lead back and forth, with the score standing at 6-6 at halftime.
When Team Canyon ended up on defense, the map looked much more skewed. They took four straight rounds to start the half thanks to excellent play from Lucas “Mendo” Håkansson, but Mirage wasn’t going down without a fight. Back-to-back rounds crippled Canyon’s economy and opened the door for a comeback. Instead, Canyon settled in and closed out the series with a 13-10 win.
— ESPN Esports (@ESPN_Esports) April 23, 2020
A big part of the appeal in the ESPN Valorant Invitation was what fan base would have bragging rights over having the best pro players. Though this isn’t necessarily a legitimate measure of skill given the wildly different levels of players that the different teams have, there’s no question that two teams in particular were disappointing.
Group B saw the Valorant development team, Team Dev, advance at the expense of Fortnite’s Team Llama and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ Team Battlegrounds.
This isn’t necessarily an outright embarrassment. Numerous members of the Riot development team have pro gaming experience, most notably CSGO map developer and former Counter-Strike 1.6 pro Sal “Volcano” Garozzo. They have more experience playing the game and a greater familiarity with the strongest angles and entries. Notably, they even made Team Mirage sweat in the semifinals by posting 11 rounds in their best-of-one showdown.
That said, Team Llama had a very strong roster that included Fortnite World Cup solos silver medalist Harrison “Psalm” Chang and other serious competitors. Not only that, but given the deep talent pool and strong focus on gunplay in Fortnite, it’s surprising that the star-studded team couldn’t put together a stronger performance.
Wonder how it feels like to be from a shooting only game and lose to 5 Bob the Builders….
— psalm (@psalm) April 21, 2020
Even worse than Team Llama was Team Battlegrounds. The PUBG team included a number of pros from legitimate teams including Team Envy’s Zachary “Venerated” Roach and multiple former members of top North American team Tempo Storm. Despite this, they underwhelmed in all three of their games and finished 0-3 with a -20 round differential.
Of course, the worst team of the bunch was Team Rift from League of Legends. The squad included a number of top League of Legends pros including Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. That didn’t mean much though, as League of Legends doesn’t really translate to a first-person shooter like Valorant. They went 0-3 with a -25 round differential.