Well that's embarrasing... or is it?

Apex Legends pros beat Counter-Strike team in ESPN’s Valorant Invitational

Valorant invitational grand finals round 3

Image credit: Riot Games/ESPN

It’s barely been a month since Valorant’s closed beta release, but in that time we’ve already seen some incredibly high-level play thanks to ESPN’s three-day invitational tournament which just wrapped up. The event pitted teams of professional players from the worlds of Counter-Strike, Overwatch, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, Fortnite, and PUBG, along with a team of the game’s own developers. As it turns out, Apex Legends players are some of the best Valorant players out there so far.

Valorant invitational tournament rules

Image credit: ESPN

It was an impressive show of skills for all the teams involved. However, Team Canyon, the Apex Legends squad comprised of players Aceu, Dizzy, Mendo, Kellar, and Syncdez, and Team Mirage, the Counter-Strike team made up of Brax, Ska, AZK, n0thing, Hiko, and Skadoodle, were the final two teams standing by day three. Team Canyon pulled out an impressive 2-1 win in a best of three finals, cementing their place in early Valorant history. But what does all this mean for the future of the game?

Valorant invitational finals bracket

Image credit: ESPN

ESPN MVPs are the early stars of the game

After the conclusion of the tournament, three journalists from ESPN discussed who they thought deserved the MVP title. One of the names pitched was Spencer “Hiko” Martin of Team Mirage, whose expert Breach play impressed everyone despite his team’s ultimate demise.

Another name tossed into the MVP pile was Justin “Kellar” Kellar. Not only was he part of the winning team, but he made some of the most important moves of the series. He showed off his impressive skills multiple times, going one-versus-the-team to clutch out a round. His calm, cool, and collected demeanor also was a differentiating factor for Team Canyon.

The future of Valorant esports: Team Mirage vs. Team Dev

Team Mirage vs Team Dey, Day 3 Highlights (Video credit: ESPN via YouTube)

One of the highlight matches of the event was Team Mirage versus the game’s developers, which is worth a viewing for yourself. It gave viewers a real look at how Valorant will behave as an esports title. While both teams took a safe, fairly defensive approach to the match, one team had the advantage of knowledge, whereas the other had a better hand on mechanics. It was ultimately Team Mirage that pulled out with a win, but Nicholas “Nickwu” Wu Smith and Salvatore “Volcano” Garozzo still proved that they are formidable players.

Nickwu’s remarkable performance put Sova on display. Showing remarkable control over the garage doors both when it came to attack and defense, his approach was a near textbook application of the hero and the game itself (aside from one stray arrow that backfired!). The skill of each team ultimately showed how strategy and skill result in a very back-and-forth match, resulting in ideal esports viewing.

While Valorant is still in its early development, the ESPN Invitational and its success as a spectator event shows promise for the future of the game.

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