AUTHOR: CHRIS "BEARLIGHT" LEE / @BEARLIGHTCASTS
Wednesday means Valorant weeklies at Stay Plugged In, and Week 28 of Road to Radiant was quite a curveball. With new student athletes coming in and standing out amongst their fellow recruits, we saw quite a few one-sided matches. Although the game results are not any that would pull you to the edge of your seat, at the end of the day, our platform is about adaptability, self-improvement, and player recognition. The large presence of these core values this week got our recruiting specialists and college recruiters buzzing. The buzz from the players surrounded the Jitterbugs upgrade to version '2.0'. See if the separation between two of their leaders were able to guide them through the talent of Phantoms, CTG, and NC State Red in this week's breakdown.
CTG vs PHANTOMS - THE PLAY-IN TO JITTERBUGS 2.0
A question mark over the heads of the Jitterbugs, recently renamed 'Jitterbugs 2.0' this week in their first appearance without Waves. Since Soup and DLIAWA have both appeared on the roster on numerous occasions, the 3/5 rule allowed the team to keep their #1 seed heading into Wednesday's bracket. These two players are fantastic in clutch situations, and each are effective fraggers in their own unique ways, but they are relatively new to the team compared to former teammates Reflex and Sambae. Even still, they are the most tenured teammates to play alongside captain SMRTY this week. SimplyQ101 and Curry newly joined in arms with the crew, which left a level of uncertainty on the table regardless of the high individual success of these players in past high level competition.
Jitterbugs 2.0 would need to wait for a play-in match before getting their shot at testing the new team, as CTG and Phantoms battled it out in a tight match at Bind. In most of matches it's tough to look at one recruit and attribute a majority of the credit to them for picking up the win. Don't get me wrong, it takes the use of teammate utility to top the kill chart. However, in a heated match where eight of ten players finished at or below a 1 KD ratio, BAPPO of CTG finished with a 28/16/6 KDA with 6 first bloods, a performance which can be rightfully be labeled as a true difference maker in their win. Honorable mention to CHIKA of Phantoms for a 21/14/1 KDA performance as well, but unfortunately their tournament was cut short, and CTG would move on face Jitterbugs.
SEMIFINALS MATCHES - JITTERBUGS & NC STATE RED ON TOP
When CTG is looking back at this tournament, their focal point should be a review of their round 1 match against Phantoms. Although they were not able to keep up in the loss against the new Jitterbugs (3-13) in the Semifinals, the improvement of the team will be found in matches against a comparable opponent. NAHTE looked consistent as Fade for CTG in both matches, and the whole team played better in late rounds in their win against Phantoms. These are qualities college esports programs love to see, so the tough loss to some of the best in the business isn't the end of the world. For Jitterbugs 2.0, the legacy of the name clearly carries success behind it, as they move on to the finals despite their entire roster shake-up.
As for NC State Red, they were coming off a debut appearance and tournament win, so the expectations were pretty high for them to perform. I will let the (13-0) win in the Semifinals speak for itself. No player for NCSU had more than 6 deaths, and four of the five had more than 12 kills. They matched the expectations of performance in this round, but perhaps the confidence rose a little too high, as you will see in their struggle against Jitterbugs 2.0 in the finals.
FINALS - JITTERBUGS 2.0 vs NC STATE RED
Both teams came off big wins in the Semifinals and the matchup many anticipated came into fruition. NC State Red had yet to see SMRTY in action due to the elimination of Jitterbugs last week at the hands of Bald Babies. Either way, the Jitterbugs this week was quite literally a whole different team, and eventually we found out that it was in all of the right ways.
We discovered the unstoppable dual-threat fragging of CURRY and ZRONA, finishing with 23/8/6 as Sova and 22/8/1 as Chamber respectively. SOUP held down the middle ground of the combat score list as Astra, playing the rather difficult agent really well with 14 kills, and SIMPLYQ101 led the way in assists with 11, using Skye's flashes and stun abilities with next level mastery. Jitterbugs 2.0 answered all questions presented and won the Finals by the count of (13-4).
Congratulations to the new Jitterbugs squad for their Week 28 Road to Radiant victory! Shout out as well to this week's MVP - CURRY - for finishing the night with a record-high 3.438 KDA ratio. To find out more about Road to Radiant and other upcoming Stay Plugged In online and in-person Valorant events, you can visit our events page on this website.