It was a big couple of days for the burgeoning pro VALORANT scene and for an unexpected contender in the LEC. Here's the latest edition of Who Won the Weekend.
Winner: TSM VALORANT
This weekend was a memorable one for VALORANT competition. North America had its first major tournament, the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers VALORANT Showdown, 24 days after the global launch of the game. All the major NA VALORANT teams participated in the weekend-long affair.
There were many bright spots and teams that should be very proud of themselves. FaZe Clan only had two official players announced before the weekend: Corey, a much sought-after free agent coming from Overwatch who was one of the stars of the weekend (earning the second highest average combat score in the entire tournament); and JasonR, who despite being team captain sat this weekend out to allow the other players that suited up for FaZe to get a look from the org. FaZe ended up in fourth. Meanwhile, even though Cloud9 didn't make it out of groups, TenZ left with the second-highest average KDA in the tournament, 1.55, and the feeling that C9's troubles definitely aren't "LeTenz James"' fault. The same goes for 100 Thieves, who failed to make it past Round 2 in the lower bracket, but Hiko ended up with a 1.41 KD across 219 rounds, good for third-best average in the entire tournament.
The two teams most would have predicted would meet in the final did meet in the final: hosts T1, with the first pro VALORANT signing to a major org in Brax, his former "IBuyPower" counterparts AZK and Skadoodle, along with crashies, food and coach fRod, met TSM, the most successful team in closed beta tournaments, looking to continue that momentum with the human highlight reel drone, Subroza, hazed, reltuc (cutler) and the long-range legend Wardell, with coach Tailored.
They met twice, with TSM sending T1 down to the lower bracket in the winners final after a 2-1. T1 had to make it through a plucky Immortals squad, who gave many teams trouble this weekend and earned themselves further acclaim with tournament victories over 100 Thieves, Sentinels and FaZe Clan.
Then, it was on in the Grand Final that pretty much all of chat was hoping for. But in the end, it wasn't close. Already with a 1-0 advantage coming in due to making it through on the winners side, TSM took a 2-0 lead with an emphatic 13-4 win on Haven. Every TSM player had more kills than the top kill earners on T1 in this game. Then, in Game 3, it was Wardell's specialty map, Ascent, with those long sight lines, where he makes the OP sing. Brax put up a valiant effort, going 22/17/4, and his team came to life in certain rounds, but Wardell was unstoppable from long range, seemingly picking off opponents at will, sometimes at an incredible distance through smokes and obstructions. Scarborough is 19 miles from downtown Toronto and you'd think that's how far Wardell was making these shots. If the MVP of the tournament received a luxury car, Wardell would have gotten two for the 30 burger he dropped in the tournament-clinching game, as TSM took the map 13-9 and the $25,000 top prize. But more importantly, TSM cemented themselves as the top VALORANT team in North America, and probably the world, until more data and tournament results come in. -- Arda Ocal
Honorable Mention: MAD Lions (League of Legends European Championship)
Before the start of the 2020 League of Legends European Championship summer split, many people -- some of whom are on this ESPN Esports staff -- thought that the LEC would be boring. It was naturally a given that G2 Esports would be in first place and Fnatic would be nipping at their heels with the likes of Rogue, MAD Lions, Origen, and Misfits fighting for the courtesy of third best.
From their first spring game against G2 where they had a hot early-game start only to be choked out by G2's stronger midgame macro, this MAD Lions team has been something special.
Three weeks into LEC summer and they're the best team in the league right now. What began as a one-two punch of talented rookie jungler Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao and bot laner Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság has become a strong five-man unit capable of going toe-to-toe with any team in Europe. This MAD Lions lineup often took draft and matchup risks in spring with mixed results, but now with stronger coordination and career highlights from mid laner Marek "Humanoid" Brázda, their execution on these drafts has been stronger (I personally loved the Ivern pick) leading to an impressive 6-1 start. That one loss is to G2, who, despite their 1-1 week and 4-3 record are still the team that MAD will have to defeat to prove they're ultimately on top of the LEC. -- Emily Rand