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Riot Games Announces Reversal of Decision on The Guard

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Riot Games has officially announced that they have reversed their decision in late August not to give The Guard’s esports players the chance to find a new organization to represent in VCT Americas.

Back on August 29th, Riot Games officially announced that VCT Americas would remain a ten-team league in 2024 after The Guard, the team who won the region’s Ascension tournament, had “failed to meet the deadline to agree to the Team Participation Agreement.”

The initial news was talked about among esports journalists and outlets, as Leo Faria, the Head of Valorant Esports further elaborated during a post on Twitter (now X):

“Hey everyone. This situation is very unfortunate and none of us wanted this outcome. We designed Ascension hoping to see new teams and players joining our International Leagues every year, and it’s disheartening to see this happening in year one. That said, I want to share some of the details that led us here. Teams competing in Challengers knew what they were playing for since the start of the season. Every team that qualified for Ascension signed the Team Participation Agreement prior to the start of the tournament, and signatures were held in escrow. Immediately after the conclusion of Ascension we started the onboarding process with the three winning teams, expecting them to release their signature from escrow to finalize their promotion to the International Leagues. Unfortunately this was never completed by The Guard, and after two months and several follow-ups, we had to make a very hard decision in order to not compromise the start of the season next year. We want great organizations to participate in our sport and therefore hold every candidate to high standards. Team’s structure and professionalism are what allow the VCT to provide amazing career opportunities for pros, and the development and growth of the sport we all love. We hold that bar high, both for partnered and ascended teams, and also offer them the exact same benefits (the only exception being a team-branded gun skin, which is only available for partnered teams). Those benefits include a base stipend, financial incentives, prize pools, revenue share of the Champions collection, and team-specific bundles. To address this particular situation, we considered three different options: allow these 5 players to be picked up by a new organization, promote the Ascension runner-up, or not promote any team. Here’s context on why we chose the latter. With the way our path-to-pro is designed, it’s fair to assume that a free agent team might eventually get to Challengers and even win Ascension. We want to see five friends and dream making it all the way to the top, and we are prepared for that occasion. In case a free agent team makes it to an International League, the players would have an opportunity to find an organization that would support them in the International League. This particular situation is different, since this team played through Challengers and Ascension under The Guard banner, and became free agents after the fact. Allowing an acquisition by a different organization now opens the door for slots in the VCT to be sold, which we do not allow. The second solution we considered was promoting the runner-up M80, however, that would also create questionable precedents. The point of Ascension is to reward performance, and as great and talented as M80 is, qualifying a team that didn’t win the tournament defeats that purpose. Promotion is earned in-game, not out of it. We’re very disappointed on behalf of the players who competed the whole season and won’t be able to qualify as a team due to circumstances beyond their control. As painful as it is to make this decision, we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the sport and will always do what’s best for the long term.”

Riot Games issued the following, reversing their initial decision:

This will come as welcome news for fans who like to tune into the competitions on a esports streaming platform and are fans of The Guard.

Michael ‘neT’ Bernet, one of The Guard’s players, thanked the Valorant community for the “overwhelming support” that was shown during this process, on Twitter. “This would not have been possible without you guys and I will be forever grateful. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.”

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