Who's the best VALORANT team in North America?

Wardell and TSM are at the top of the mountain in our inaugural NA VALORANT rankings. Adela Sznajder/Dreamhack

Welcome to the ESPN VALORANT North America Rankings.

Every two weeks, we will release our official rankings of the top 10 teams in the North American region, using results from the previous four months of competition to form our ranking. While success from three to four months ago will be counted in a team's overall ranking, a top-tier performance in a most-recent major competition will always carry more weight. As North America currently has had the most online tournaments, a recent major VALORANT Ignition Series event and several established organizations already in the ecosystem, we are beginning our series of rankings with the region.

Although the team did perform well in the recent Ignition Series tournament, FaZe Clan has been omitted from this initial ranking, as they've only competed in a single event and only had one signed player participate in said competition. If the core of that team competes in another upcoming tournament or more players from that Ignition Series tournament are signed to FaZe full-time, they will be in the pool to make it into the top 10.

Without further ado, here are our inaugural North America rankings.

1. TSM

This should be no surprise to anyone who has followed VALORANT in North America. Since almost the game's inception, TSM (then known as Mousespaz) have been a leading performer in almost every minor and major online tournament, only becoming more dominant after joining the TSM brand around the time of the game's full release in June. After picking up numerous online titles, their only obstacle remaining was defeating T1 on a grand stage, and that's exactly what they did in the first-ever North American Ignition Series event, the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown. Matthew "Wardell" Yu was almost completely untouched throughout the entire tournament, putting up a ridiculous +122 kill-to-death differential along with an Average Combat Score of 253.

There will be positions to debate during this ranking, but TSM, winners of the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown and a myriad of other online tournaments, are not one of them.

2. T1

The grand finals of the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown was going to secure the No. 1 place in rankings for the winner and No. 2 for the loser, and thus, here we have T1. While there are still arguments to be had that pound-for-pound, T1 is the most skilled team in North America, they are firmly behind TSM in the rankings following two straight losses to them in their own home tournament. The team's trump card map, Ascent, where T1 went unbeaten in the tournament, was even figured out by TSM during the grand final, securing the match and trophy for our No. 1 squad. By the time the grand finals came to a close, it felt as if TSM had an answer for every strategy T1 threw at them.

Overall, T1 still shouldn't be overlooked and are comfortable in the secondary position, and the team is already back in the lab looking to take down their newfound archrival. Although team ace and inaugural franchise layer Braxton "Brax" Pierce had a relatively quiet tournament compared to some of his peers, his Omen was one of the silver linings coming out of the tournament for T1, leading all Omen players in the tournament with a 260 ACS and kill-to-death deferential at a clean +44.

3. Immortals

This is where things get tougher to place in North America. While Immortals are the clear No. 3 in North America at the moment, having played in three prominent tournaments and only having lost to TSM or T1 in those events, it feels as if the best is still to come for their young and inexperienced core. Where TSM's calculated aggression or T1's clinical dissections feel crafted and tuned, Immortals, with their overwhelming pressure, come off as a team still finding their bearings as a unit. The team's centerpiece, 16-year-old Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk, is what you'd expect from a talented teenager playing in his first few professional tournaments: showcasing moments (and games) of brilliance along with some growing pains along with the rest of his teammates.

The Immortals might have one of, if not the highest ceiling in North America, with the starting five already rolling through more experienced sides and giving teams like T1 and TSM a run for their money when they match up together. It could take them months or even years to hit their full potential, but when they do, Immortals should be a team to watch not only in North America but on the overall world stage as well.

4. Gen.G Esports

Although this placement could look a bit high because of Gen.G's lackluster result at the Ignition Series tournament (7-8th place), remember, previous events do matter. While Gen.G stumbled at the biggest tournament thus far in VALORANT, they have placed well in or won every other significant tournament they've entered during the game's short lifespan, even winning the Pittsburgh Knights Tournament Series, a competition that included heavy hitters such as TSM and Together we are terrific.

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Overall, Gen.G is at an impasse. They couldn't have gotten off to a better start when the team first debuted, blowing out all competition in the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational (a predecessor to the Showdown) and winning $20,000 in the process. A month ago, it would have been an oversight to not mention Gen.G alongside TSM and T1. Now, after a few disappointing results and a quick bow out at the Ignition Series tournament, they need to rebound with a big performance or will watch as those early beta tournaments become irrelevant and teams begin leapfrogging them in the rankings.

5. Together we are terrific

The first amateur team to find themselves breaking into the top 10 is Together we are terrific, without a doubt the strongest non-signed team in North America. China Nguyen was in the conversation with Together we are terrific, but with their possible disbandment, there is no question that Together we are terrific are the kings of North America's amateur scene. This was only reinforced at the most-recent Ignition Series competition where they were the only non-signed team to make it out of the group stages, upsetting Cloud9 to make it into bracket play.

In the playoffs, the team did meet their end at the hands of 100 Thieves and TSM, but they didn't go out without first taking a game from the eventual champions. Together we are terrific were the only team not named T1 to take a map off of TSM the entire event,with their 13-5 win on Ascent making it clear to any team owners out there they should be signed sooner rather than later. One of the team's carries, Jake "Kaboose" McDonald, is also one of the few Duelist players in North America still favoring Reyna, playing the Mexican vampire on every map during the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown to varying success.

Don't be surprised if this team is under a new name the next time these rankings are released.

6. 100 Thieves

It was an eventful first tournament for Spencer "Hiko" Martin and his brand new band of thieves. As with all new teams, 100 Thieves were another difficult squad to rank, but with a 5th-6th finish in the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown and FaZe Clan not included in the rankings, a No. 6 position feels right for a fledgling squad working on finding its identity. In terms of a personal performance, Hiko couldn't have asked for a better introduction as the ace of 100 Thieves, throwing up the third-highest ACS (255) and kill-to-death differential (+57) in the entire tournament.

As a five-person squad, though, there is a lot of work to be done for 100 Thieves to challenge TSM and T1 at the top of North America. The Immortals match that eliminated the Thieves from the tournament will be replaying in their heads until the next marquee event, an overtime loss coming in the form of a two-on-five reversal in the final round by Immortals. That was a common ocurrence for 100 Thieves during the tournament, with close matches not going their way against either Immortals or FaZe Clan. Once the team gets more practice under their belt and the team's communication becomes clearer, their climb up the North American ladder should commence.

7. Sentinels

The early parts of VALORANT weren't pretty for Sentinels. Though they were hyped as a full-fledged contender from the jump with their star-studded signing of Overwatch League MVP Jay "sinatraa" Won, the beta phase for Sentinels was anything but hype. They lost to amateur teams that aren't even together anymore, found little success in tournaments, and even stopped entering competitions to focus on practice heading into the inaugural Ignition Series event.

Prioritizing practice over entering tournaments turned out to be the right strategy for Sentinels, as the team topped their initial group with a thunderous win over Gen.G to head into the playoffs with momentum. They couldn't keep it up once in the bracket stage, losing a close series to Immortals, beating Gen.G once again to eliminate them, and then getting ousted themselves with a loss to FaZe. If we were only grading a single tournament, it would be obvious to rank Sentinels above Gen.G, a team they defeated twice in the tournament, but as Gen.G has numerous top finishes and even a premier trophy during the beta, this is the first tournament Sentinels entered where they showed the potential they have as a full roster.

Sentinels is an unorthodox squad. Sinatraa loves to play the Ares and Odin, they are one of the few teams still prioritizing Breach on almost every map, and their Sage player, Hunter "Sick" Mims, led the entire team in ACS during the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown. Sentinels are the opposite of Gen.G; as long as they keep putting up results as they did at the Ignition Series tournament, their ranking should only rise as those past missteps are things of the past.

8. Cloud9

As teams like Sentinels rise, we have C9, who would have been in the conversation for the top five before the Ignition Series tournament where they flopped terribly, not even making it out of the group stages. Every other signed pro team, even including trial sides, made it to the playoffs, but C9, gifted with arguably the best player in the region, Tyson "TenZ" Ngo, couldn't make it out.

TenZ is the only player in North America that could drop 40 frags in any pro game he plays in, but he's also the only player in NA where you could really see him dropping 40 and still losing the game. This very nearly happened at the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, when TenZ put up 38 kills in the team's opening game of the tournament -- a loss. Skyler "Relyks" Weaver is the only other confirmed starter on the C9 roster, recently signing with the team, and he's been often the second-best performing player after TenZ, but this is a team is in a dire need of consistency in its last few signings if they want to dig themselves out of the hole they're currently stuck in.

9. Way 2 French

The French-Canadian doppelgangers of Gen.G Esports, Way 2 French are making their own statement recently with some big wins against fellow amateur sides. Led by Francis "NANO" Tremblay and Mathieu "INCRED" Bergeron, the team defeated fellow amateur side Big Frames in Fight Night Arena at the end of June before picking up their biggest win as a starting five with a $5,000 victory in the North American Trovo Challenge, where they toppled all of the other amateur teams to take home the top prize. Though Way 2 French catching C9 might be the largest gap between any two placements on this ranking, as long as they keep up farming the mini-tournaments and qualifying for major events, their stock will continue to rise.

Together we are terrific seem to be shoo-ins to be picked up by a tier-one organization if there is one out there looking for a VALORANT team, but Way 2 French shouldn't be overlooked by possible investors.

10. Code7

Our final team in the rankings, this (along with No. 9) could have gone in a variety of ways. Echo 8 and Prospects also have legitimate arguments to be included in the top 10, but in the end, Code7 took the honors with their showcase series against T1 during the most-recent Ignition Series event. Not only did Code7 take a map off T1 -- something a team like 100 Thieves couldn't even manage -- but they almost won the entire series, the favorites needing to craft a comeback in the second half of the climactic third game to secure the series. Rob "rob-wiz" Kennedy, in particular, was a highlight for the team in their match against T1, the Jett main's slick shots on the Operator almost pushing his team into the playoffs and a much higher spot on our inaugural rankings.