The first day of the North America Last Chance Qualifier kicked off with a bang. For some of the teams and players, it was their first time competing on LAN, making the occasion all the more special. The teams that headlined the start of the NA LCQ were 100 Thieves 100 Thieves North America Rank #2 , Gen.G Gen.G North America Rank #9 , XSET XSET North America Rank #5 , and Luminosity Luminosity North America Rank #18 .
Despite the allure of players getting to play with each other on LAN, the games themselves were played on online servers, which explained the multiple technical pauses and server issues that occurred during each of the three matches played.
According to a statement by Riot, the reason for the games being held online is due to “strict COVID protocols for in-person events” and as an alternative in the event that any players needed to be quarantined, allowing play to continue in the event of a positive COVID test that would require a player to quarantine and isolate.
The first series of the day began on Breeze, a map that both teams had only suffered a single loss on prior to their meeting. 100 Thieves began the map with a strong showing, taking the first five rounds in the map. A clutch by Kenneth "koosta" Suen in round six helped Gen.G stop the 100 Thieves attack momentum, which gave the team enough footing to keep the next six rounds close, bringing the first half to an end at 7-5 in favor of 100 Thieves.
On the attack, Gen.G lost the first two rounds of the second half, but struck back with five straight round wins to give them the lead. After staggering in round 20, Anthony "gMd" Guimond had enough with the thieves' antics and took the game into his own hands, scoring an ace in the round afterwards and giving his team the necessary push to close out the first map in a 13-10 scoreline. gMd's impact in the map was evident, as he tied teammate Nicholas "NaturE" Garrison in kills and narrowly edged out Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk in ACS, proving that his Brimstone pick on a map as large as Breeze was not something to be taken lightly.
The next map, Split, saw stout defenses and incredible individual plays from Ethan "Ethan" Arnold's Skye, who finished the map just shy of 30 kills. The first half of the map showed the full might of 100 Thieves' defense, only allowing round losses in rounds three and seven. In the second half, 100 Thieves struggled to chain together rounds in the face of Gen.G's defense, however the rounds they gathered in the first half of the map proved to be enough for them to get the 13 rounds that they needed to close out the map and equalize the map score.Ethan's impact on Skye even after she received some nerfs proved that talent transcends game patches
The final map was Icebox, a map that the analyst desk noted as “Asuna's playground” during the map pick and ban phase. 100 Thieves looked well-versed in their strats on the map, with each player executing their role solidly without the need to rely on individual plays. Gen.G only took three rounds in the first half and one in the second half before 100 Thieves closed out the map 13-4, sending Gen.G down to the lower bracket and sending themselves to face the winner of the second match of the day.
In a post-match interview, gMd seemed somewhat nonchalant even in the face of a major blow to the team's opening in Los Angeles.“I wish we could've won, but I'm not looking at the match as a complete failure...but I'm sure [we'll be] confident going into the lower bracket.”
Luminosity pulled no punches on Haven, the first map of the series, only giving XSET two rounds throughout the entire map in rounds three and four. Luminosity closed out the map in a dominant 13-2 scoreline.
XSET would regain their footing on the next map, Ascent. The start of the first half began as a back-and-forth brawl, with neither team able to gain enough momentum to snowball more than a few round wins into a noticeable lead. It wasn't until round seven when the levee broke, as XSET found a streak of four round wins to give them a solid enough lead to finish the first half up 8-4.It's no secret that a well-timed shock dart can set anyone up for easy kills
The back-and-forth rounds continued into the second half, but the lead that XSET had built in the first half proved too much for Luminosity to overcome. LG found only four more rounds before XSET secured the 13 rounds needed to equalize the map score and send the series to the final map: Split.
Split was even more of a nail-biter than Ascent, with both teams chaining together streaks of rounds throughout both halves. Despite Alex "aproto" Protopapas's best efforts to keep his team in the upper bracket, with the Cypher main netting the most frags in the server that map, XSET eventually prevailed, punching their ticket to the upper bracket semifinals against 100 Thieves.
The final match of the day featured the victors of the previous two matches. Split headlined the first map, and — despite the 13-9 scoreline — XSET dictated the pace of the match much more than 100 Thieves did, who on multiple occasions ended up salvaging rounds off of heroic plays coming out from Nick "nitr0" Cannella.
Breeze, unlike Split, was a much more one-sided map, despite what the scoreline would indicate. 100 Thieves relentlessly attacked the A site with precise and methodical utility usage from Ethan's Skye, Spencer "Hiko" Martin's Sova, and Aaron "b0i" Thao's Viper. The utility usage all around gave XSET very little room to operate, while also enabling Asuna to run wild. He finished the map with 27 kills, the second most kills claimed in a single match that day, with Ethan's 29 kill performance on Split against Gen.G taking pole position.
The final map to decide which team advanced to the upper bracket final was Ascent. Throughout the first half, neither team was able to securely gain momentum, leading to a 6-6 scoreline at the half. The nail-biting action continued until the final few rounds of the map, when XSET's struggling economy prevented some members from making full buys.
The thieves took advantage of this, forcing trades between members of both sides, which ultimately favored the team that had the better equipment going into the round. 100 Thieves ended up taking Ascent after a hard fought battle, sending XSET down to the lower bracket and concluding the first day of NA LCQ competition.
In a post-match interview, Ethan reflected on the team's back-to-back wins with their new roster and new composition, stating it wasn't even the "final iteration of the team." With the current 100T roster having only materialized in the past month, "showing up here and just winning the two Bo3's with just a couple of days of practice shows some positives."
A look ahead
The next matches will include the final four teams that didn't play today, which include:
- FaZe Clan FaZe Clan North America Rank #6 vs Rise Rise North America Rank #8
- Version1 Version1 North America Rank #11 vs Cloud9 Blue Cloud9 Blue North America Rank #4
- Upper Bracket Semifinal #2
korexicano contributed to this recap with interviews.