Riot Games has revealed that The Guard, an esports organization from North America, won’t be promoted to VALORANT’s VCT Americas league due to failing to agree to the Team Participation Agreement on time.
As a result, VCT Americas will continue its upcoming season with 10 teams, as The Guard’s spot has been removed rather than given to another team. This decision has faced criticism.
The Guard, owned by Denver’s Kroenke Sports & Entertainment group, participated in the VALORANT Challengers North America league. They secured the second position in the playoffs and earned a place in the Ascension tournament.
The winner of the Ascension tournament gets promoted to their region’s corresponding VCT regional league for two seasons, which offers significant financial benefits and opportunities compared to lower leagues.
After The Guard’s victory, discussions began immediately to onboard the winning teams. However, The Guard didn’t complete the required steps to finalize their promotion, leading to a tough decision by Riot Games to ensure the next season’s start wasn’t compromised.
Issues and Controversies
Earlier this year, The Guard laid off all staff, raising questions about its future operations.
Riot clarified that they wouldn’t let The Guard’s spot be taken over by another team to prevent selling VCT Ascension spots. They also chose not to promote M80, the runners-up of the VCT Americas Ascension tournament.
Riot’s decision and explanation have faced criticism from community members. Players who earned their qualification won’t be able to compete in the top VALORANT league through no fault of their own.
Community figures like Ludwig, DisguisedToast, M80’s CEO Marco Mereu, FlyQuest CGO Chris Smith, esports talents Goldenboy and Sean Stackhouse, and several professional VALORANT players have criticized the move or asked for reconsideration.
Fans of The Guard suggested Riot should have found solutions such as letting the roster compete as free agents or allowing M80 to take The Guard’s place.
In a statement, The Guard expressed disappointment in the unexpected outcome but promised support for the team during their transition to new opportunities.
The players themselves seemed unaware of the situation, expressing their frustration at the move. Michael ‘neT’ Bernet from The Guard said, “I am devastated. All the hard work and sacrifices we have gone through as a team just to have it stripped away from us through Twitter… I really hope Riot reconsiders and gives us the chance to play together one more time… Please Riot understand that it’s more than just a game for us but it truly is our entire life.“
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