This weekend showcased an exciting array of games and tournaments in the world of esports. Which teams won the weekend? Let's get to it.
Winner: G2 VALORANT
Another weekend, another EU tournament victory for G2 in VALORANT. It's not like they're scraping by, either ... they haven't lost a single series in any tournament, and have only conceded five maps. The team plays like a well oiled machine, seemingly taking sites at will. Sure, they have stars, like captain Óscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho, who is already one of the game's top players, and Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks who is a master on the Operator, but the rest of the team certainly aren't slouches by any metric: David "davidp" Prins has a 1.29 K/D/A across all competition. Patryk "paTiTek" Fabrowski has a 230 Average Combat Score in the last two months. Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi is the team's intel rock, while also leading all other players in kills in the grand final of the Mandatory Cup this past weekend against Bonk.
Yes, EU isn't as flushed out as NA yet. Yes, there are fewer top orgs paying players monthly salaries to compete in VALORANT full time -- Bonk, for example, are a five stack still grinding it out looking for a home. And yes, we can't have our cross-continent competition that we already crave so much. But that shouldn't diminish the accomplishments of G2 and their early VALORANT success. They belong in a Top 5 of anyone's World Rankings (and if you ask G2's CEO Carlos "ocelote" Rodroguez, they are No. 1 by a mile)
Maybe with FunPlus Phoenix rumored to join the EU VALORANT scene, they might bring some of the League of Legends Worlds G2 kryptonite with them. Until then, the kings reign supreme and with their dominant Mandatory Cup win where teams could only take a maximum of 9 rounds in a single map is enough to win them the weekend.
Runner-up: Golden Guardians (League of Legends)
Splits already seem like a lifetime in esports, particularly in 2020 with a global pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. It seems like several lifetimes ago that Golden Guardians were unequivocally the last-place team in preseason power rankings.
"I think the region will be a bit of a mess again this year," Golden Guardians head coach Nicholas "Inero" Smith told me at that time. "Honestly, I love the position we're in where everyone thinks we're 10th. That's the universal perception. If someone doesn't put GGS 10th, people immediately in the replies will be like, 'Have you seen GGS' roster? GGS are 10th. How can you say this?' I love that s---."
There have been a few major roster changes since then with Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer parting ways for Tanner "Damonte" Damonte to take the starting mid lane spot and Choi "Huhi" Jae-hyun returned to the starting roster in the support position late spring after former AD carry Yuri "KEITH" Jew's unsuccessful stint in the role. Nonetheless, even when they were losing towards the beginning of summer and seemingly fulfilling the prophecy of tenth-place set out before spring split and the entire season began, Golden Guardians had one of the most statistically strong early games in the LCS. In a league derided for its lack of proactivity, Golden Guardians were surprisingly proactive behind the early map movement of jungler Can "Closer" Çelik, even when the team was struggling.
Now the team seems to be thriving, or at the very least, moving with continuous forward momentum. This past weekend they secured a playoff seed out of the one-and-done loser's bracket, and seem to be a dangerous team. Over the past three weeks, Golden Guardians are 5-1, only losing to FlyQuest. While we can argue about how much their Saturday victory over Cloud9 matters now that North America's favorite appears to be struggling, there's no denying Golden Guardians' improvement.