This weekend saw the culmination of a miracle playoff run and the latest chapter in the best rivalry in VALORANT's young competitive scene. Let's get to it.
Winner: Schalke 04 Esports
Who'd have thought? Schalke 04 Esports qualified for the League of Legends European Championship Summer Playoffs in one of the most surprising end-of-split runs of all time. The team turned a corner in the back half of the season, led by the likes of jungler Berk "Gilius" Demir, and beat the odds. After Week 7, only 9.7% of more than 3,000 scenarios had Schalke making the playoffs.
This weekend Schalke bested Fnatic and Team Vitality, but most surprisingly, MAD Lions -- a consistent top-two team throughout the entirety of the split. Schalke's end-of-season run left them with a 8-10 record, tied with Excel Esports but above them in the standings on technicality.
After the qualification, G2 Esports CEO Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago tweeted screenshots of private messages between him and Gilius from last summer, where Gilius asked him for advice on how to get back into the pro scene. Gilius played for Gamers2 earlier in his career but in the years since, became known for a difficult-to-work-with reputation -- something he told ocelote he was trying to turn around. Now, with Schalke's success, you can only feel good for Gilius.
Hats off to Schalke. -- Jacob Wolf
Runner up: TSM VALORANT
It was almost as if it was destined to happen. TSM vs Sentinels. Another major tournament, another major matchup. We even got it once before the grand final, with TSM extracting revenge for the PAX Arena and 30Bomb event losses.
But all roads led back to a clash between perhaps the two best VALORANT teams in North America. Sprinkle in a spicy rivalry that grows with every series, and you have two teams producing some of the highest quality and most exciting VALORANT out there.
You could tell how much this victory meant to them. Both teams wanted to win. Both teams pushed it to the limit. Neither wanted to give up an inch. Both teams made statements against the other on maps their opponents chose. It was beautiful chaos.
Of course it went to a final map 5. Of course it went to overtime. And there, TSM pulled off incredible plays and clutches to secure the championship. As Subroza said on Twitter immediately afterwards, "It's never over until its fkn over. Remember that."
The level of competition improves. The viewership increases. The fans win.
Also a quick shout out to FaZe Clan (and also Nerd Street Gamers) for the great tournament production. The format was good, the viewership kept growing (well over 150k at one point) and we got heavyweight matchups. Sean Gares and Daniel "DDK" Kapadia were excellent casters in what I believe was their major tournament VALORANT debut - Sean set the blueprint for how color commentators should approach analyzing the game with his in game sound bytes. Very well done. -- Arda Ocal