Saturday, 5 September 2020

The End of Chapter One: What The European Ignition Series Told Us!


We are one week removed from the completion European Ignition Series, the first chapter in VALORANT's esports story  that saw some of the best teams in the region battle it out, or in some cases battle the fact they weren't able to qualify for some of the region's five tournaments have ended. While the ending of each act was the same with G2 becoming five-time champions, it provided a lot of different paths to avenue down and keep in the back of our minds as we move into the next step, which includes a four-team invite-only tournament from CSGO tournament organisers BLAST. It is the perfect time to take a look back at some of the key points from what we have seen so far. 

G2 Are The Kings Of Europe & A Top Three Team In The World

The Vitality European Open, WePlay! Invitational, the Mandatory.GG Cup, the Allied Esports Odyssey and the LVL Valorant Clash 2. These are the five tournaments that G2 entered and came away victorious in dominant fashion. There performances were so impressive, they only lost one map in all five of those final's and that was against Prodigy in the Vitality European Open. The only team that has managed to beat G2 in a best of two series or more in the entire Ignition Series was FunPlus Phoenix and we are all aware of the situation that was going on during that match (though FunPlus Phoenix's win should not be seen lightly in any shape or form). 

G2 have shown that they are best in the region and that they are more than ready for LAN events to continue at the earliest opportunity. Their success can not be questioned but their play at times has shown that when they are starting to get figured out strategically, they rely on their pure aim to push them through the other side. It has worked so far,  but as the region starts to see more organisations come in and create new rosters, it is not something they can continue to fall back on so often. It would be great to see them pick up a coach to help sure up their only perceivable weakness.

Right now they are clearly a top-three team in the world and while it is definitely too early to say where they are in that top three and whether they could beat North America's Sentinels or not, it does, provide us with a perfect storyline to spotlight when they are able to eventually face off. 

Bonk Are The Only National Roster That Should Be Signed

While G2 have shown they are the kings of Europe, Bonk so far, has shown that they are the crown princes who are next in line. In a strange twist of fate, Ninja's in Pyjama's releasing Bonkar and not signing stand-in Yacine worked in their favour, as Bonk's consistent performances during the Ignition Series has shown that if any team deserves to be signed by an organisation in their entirety, it is them. After they failed to make it out of the group stage during the Vitality European Open, Bonk showed up during the Mandatory.GG Cup and the LvlGlobal LVL VALORANT CLASH 2. Finishing second in both events to G2.

The roster itself is stacked as Bonk have two of the best fraggers in Europe so far with Yacine who according to VLR.GG in 500 recorded European professional rounds has an Average Combat Score of 269.7 (2nd), Average Damage per Round of 180.9 (1st), an Average Econ Rating of 64.4 (8th) and a Kills per Round rating of 0.88 (6th) as Bonk's main Oper. Sayf who is the team's entry fragger and has Europe's deepest agent pool is currently averaging 162.2 in Average Damage per Round (5th), 0.85 Kills per Round (10th) and has 133 First Bloods (17th). This is alongside the leadership that Bonkar provides, the flank watch and ability to clutch from Aron, who also had the shot of the Ignition Series with his kill on Ascent against Luckerr in the Mandatory.GG Cup,  Ziz who has a great understanding of Omen and is one of the best anchors's in the region and finally their coach Emil, who might be the most underrated part of this roster. Bonk most certainly deserve to be signed and their lack of organisation backing has definitely hampered them in getting tournament invites early on.

Tournament Formats Failed In Europe

The European Ignition Series provided some incredible moments throughout the scenes first steps but unlike North America where the tournament formats allowed teams a true opportunity to show their ability to the fullest, the formats used by European Tournament organisers failed not only the players but the fans as well. North America's format was the best of the Ignition Series with a double-elimination, best of three and best of five final's, with two tournaments having four open qualifying spots for the lesser-known teams to show their worth. Europe, on the other hand, had far too many tournaments with best of one matches and there were far too many events that had an invitation system that favoured teams who were signed to organisations and too little opportunities for those looking to show why they should be picked up by organisations. While the LvlGlobal Valorant Clash 2 probably had the best format in the entire series, the way the LogictechG Cup qualifying was handled, with it being changed from DACH only to open format with two hours prior to registration was to close, was frustrating.

Even the soon to be announced BLAST 50k tournament has chosen to invite the big four organisations in the region, despite Bonk being arguably better than two of them. While this is not far from how they run their CSGO tournaments prize pool and format are respectable. Whether this is a problem with Riot Europe's stance or the tournament organisers themselves, teams like Bonk have every right to be frustrated with the fight they have faced for recognition so far.

Europe's Talent Pool Is Deep But Turkey Has The Potential To Be A Key Player

As is the case with every esport, the level of talent in Europe runs deep. It is incredibly hard to place teams from sixth down but one nation that is showing it could be a key player in the region is Turkey, as they showed up with play from the likes of former Big BossLayf and regional star Oper Memhet Yağız "cNed" İpek, current BBL Esports player Ali Osman "AsLanM4shadoW" Balta, Looking4Org's Erdem "toronto" Sogukpinar and former Looking4Org player Melih "pAura" Karaduran to name four player from the region who have started to make a name for themselves during the Ignition Series and minor tournaments so far. 

That said, it is not only the players who have done well so far as the Turkish Valorant fan base has been provided an incredible boost to the European viewership numbers. When ever a Turkish team has been on the main stream, the fans have showed up, sometimes as many as 5,000 more tuning in. While they may have to learn that Turkish is not going to be allowed in all stream chats, due to moderation. It is worth keeping an eye on Turkey as a region as there is the possibility that a lot of good players can and will emerge from there. 

We are now in a period of limbo where we are all waiting to hear what's next with for the scene but one thing is for certain, VALORANT has started well, even if there is a few minor changes that are required moving forward. 

(You can find more VALORANT content over on Twitter @haloofthoughts)

(Images credit: Riot)


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