What Can North America Expect From The New T1 VALORANT?
Since the inception of VALORANT, T1 has been a name at the forefront, for better or worse, of the North American scene. And with the 2022 VALORANT season beginning to spool up, T1 has had massive changes to their VALORANT stable.
Can this once unstoppable force regain its footing and begin to march or is this another failed attempt at bat for a legendary organization? It all starts with their newest acquisitions.
After retiring from Counter-Strike, Rahul “curry” Nemani has floated around the North American VALORANT landscape with impressive success. He’s flanked by former XSET star, Zander “thwifo” Kim, former Team Seal duelist, Johann “seven” Hernandez, and former Cosmic Divide, Josh “pwny” VanGorder.
However, the marquee name featured on this program is without a doubt Joshua “steel” Nissan. Bringing experience and leadership from his time as a top North American Counter-Strike professional player as well as being a massive vocal presence within 100 Thieves’ VALORANT roster, steel is the backbone of the burgeoning team.
Changing from one regime to the next can be obtuse and incredibly confusing to see if the meaningful change has catalyzed outside of tournament standing. However, there are a few points to keep your eyes on.
If we specifically zoom in on the overall identity of T1 in the early days, it was focused almost entirely around star players trying to brute force their own individual styles. We’re looking at investing heavy resources into Braxton “brax” Pierce and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. These moves initially saw T1 jettisoned to the top of the North American power rankings nearly immediately.
The next evolution was attempting to find a formula that worked with little to no luck. This was with Skadoodle stepping down from the active lineup to only return once the roster shuffle, the addition of Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo, and the recent departure of Timothy “autimatic” Ta, T1 has been searching high and low for some form of consistency but has yet to find it.
You can’t undercut the organization for attempting to be agile, but as last year continued, it seemed more and more likely that a full rebuild was inevitable.
Something more centered around in-game strategy is how steel specifically plays the sentinel role. Often found lurking on defense and covering long-flanks while attacking, steel’s presence on the map is often understated and will be a massive boon for T1.
While perhaps gun shy from their last outing, the community should take note of this stealthy team. It has clear goals in mind from taking young, talented prospects and putting them behind a leader like steel and the T1 coaching staff should see them grow into a competitive top table team.
Again, while hesitant from their recent lack of tangible results, this iteration of T1 is a brand new ballot cast into the fires of North America and should be treated as such.
We’ve seen these pieces flourish in other systems, given more support and arguably a more experienced leadership core, who is to say they can’t compete for a seat at the table? T1 are a team the North American viewers should approach with cautious optimism.
Images via Riot Games