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Previously in the NACE Varsity Premier for VALORANT, the finals saw the ever-dominant Northwood being knocked out by fifth-seed St. Clair Saints in the semifinals. Later on in the grand finals, OC Esports took the win in commanding fashion to put themselves on the radar for top teams.

Since the last NACE tournament back in April, a few tournaments have concluded with the results likely showing how the participating teams will perform in the coming Fall season.

In no particular order, let’s look at the results coming into the next NACE Varsity Premiere season.

The Titanic Northwood Esports

This small university in Michigan has a strong argument for the best collegiate esports program in North America. From Rocket League to VALORANT and Overwatch, Northwood Esports can be found dominating a majority of the games they field a roster for.

Northwood began their 2023 record with a first-place finish against Mizzou Esports, who they then proceeded to beat two more times in two different grand finals. Their most recent win was a close match against a consistent top-three team, Winthrop University.

Since their big win at Red Bull Campus Clutch at the end of 2022, Northwood’s dominance continued throughout the first half of 2023 besides one slip-up against St. Clair Saints. If you would bet on a team to win the coming season, a safe pick would be Northwood.

Blinn Blue’s Second Chance

With some top teams such as Winthrop and Fisher playing in the separate Open bracket, this leaves a closer competition between the underdogs. Blinn Blue is a solid team that had to forfeit their match in the previous Varsity season without the chance to face the eventual winners, OC Esports.

Of the southern collegiate teams, OC Esports and Blinn Blue are the two best in the region by a decent margin. In the official collegiate VALORANT tournaments, they secured a first, second and third-place finish in the regional tournaments before being knocked out of the championship in the loser's quarterfinals.

Blinn Blue aren’t the favorites to win, but the team could easily take at least a third or fourth-place finish in the coming season, provided they don’t have to forfeit again.

OC Esports Going Back to Back

Starting off the year strong was OC Esports, finding success in their region as well as winning the previous Varsity season against St. Clair Saints, but their streak did not last. They were taken out early in the College VALORANT Championship by Winthrop after beating Carleton Ravens, another remarkable team, in the first round.

Despite a poor placing in the recent big collegiate tournament, OC Esports should still be a great bet for a second or even first-place finish, especially after proving that they could beat Blinn Blue in the College VALORANT regionals.

With Winthrop’s presence in the upcoming Varsity season being gone, there is a great chance for OC Esports to become the two-time, back-to-back NACE champions.

St. Clair Saints Varsity Staying Strong

The St. Clair Saints had a similar time in the College VALORANT Championship as OC Esports, being taken out early on by a strong team who happens to not be in the Varsity bracket for NACE.

It would be an injustice to the players and staff of St. Clair Saints to not mention their victory against Northwood in the semifinals of the previous Varsity season. Whatever the circumstances surrounding that match was, they won it fair and square.

One advantage for St. Clair Saints is their proximity to Northwood region-wise, meaning that any regional tournaments would get them the best on-stage practice any team could ask for. Maybe this proximity to the top dog was what let them take the victory in the previous season, but who knows.

Whether St. Clair can repeat their victory against Northwood, if OC Esports can find their back-to-back NACE titles or if Northwood continues their win streak it’ll be a good day for collegiate VALORANT once the matches start in September.

Written by Andy Haggard

This article was created as part of an internship collaboration with NACE