VALORANT developer Riot Games has backtracked on their previous decision to exclude the former members of the winning VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Ascension Americas team, The Guard, and has allowed the players to continue competing either under a new organisation or as individual free agents.
Riot's decision was made public on social media on Saturday (2 September).
An update regarding the players impacted by The Guard's decision to not move forward with VCT Americas 2024-25 pic.twitter.com/oLhjSJDaYy
— VALORANT Esports NA (@valesports_na) September 1, 2023
“We met with the players this afternoon and let them know that they are now free to pursue opportunities with an organization or individually as free agents,” the announcement read.
The players will have sufficient time to either find a new team or present a candidate organisation that is “suitable” for filling the Ascended slot.
This comes after the initial decision to disqualify the roster met backlash from the VALORANT Esports community, from pros and players alike.
Why was The Guard disqualified?
The Guard won the VCT Challengers Ascension Americas tournament on 9 July, earning them a slot at the VCT Americas League for Season 2024 and 2025.
However, the organisation “failed to meet the deadline” of agreeing to the Team Participation Agreement required for all organisations joining a VCT League.
As a result, Riot announced on 29 August that no teams would be promoted for Season 2024, invalidating the win and, consequently, the efforts of the members of the members of the said roster.
Decision to disqualify The Guard roster from the VCT Americas League met with backlash
Many felt bad for the players who couldn’t participate anymore, feeling like the efforts of the team went to waste. Some others have questioned why another organisation couldn't absorb the roster or why the Ascension runners-up, M80, weren't chosen.
A statement from the Americas VALORANT Players Association recommended that a new organisation sign all five players and the head coach to fill the league place.
A statement from our Executive Council pic.twitter.com/fo8lQLxh3u
— Americas VALORANT Players Association (@valorant_pa) August 29, 2023
Leo Faria, head of VALORANT Esports, offered an explanation on Twitter, addressing some of the suggestions by the community. According to Faria, “Allowing an acquisition by a different organization now opens the door for slots in the VCT to be sold, which we do not allow.”
He also said that they also ruled against promoting Ascension's runner-up, M80, explaining that "promotion is earned in-game, not out of it."
VCT Americas host Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez also responded to Faria’s lengthy explanation. “What you said about ‘five friends making it’ truly applies here,” he said.
While I appreciate the detailed response what you said about "five friends making it" truly applies here and yes the circumstances are different but they earned the chance to compete together.
I really hope this gets reconsidered for the sake of the players and nothing else.
— Goldenboy 🇵🇷 (@GoldenboyFTW) August 30, 2023
“Yes, the circumstances are different, but they earned the chance to compete together,” he emphasised. “I really hope this gets reconsidered for the sake of the players and nothing else.”
Petition for The Guard roster made by fans
A petition was made by fans on 30 August named “Let The Guard roster play VCT under another organisation,” asking for Riot to backtrack on their decision.
“This announcement sets a bad precedent for future investment in Ascension as organizations will be more hesitant to invest in Ascension,” it read, also adding that “it shows that even though you won, it does not mean you are getting into VCT.”
The petition also stated that “There are other organizations who almost made it into the inaugural season and would be more than willing to sign the five players and staff.”
The petition garnered 11,360 signatures as of the time of writing, with many fans showing their support for the winning roster in the comments.
Many signatories, like user Emma Gold, agree that the players have “worked incredibly hard” and that they “deserve their slot in the Americas League.”
Others, like user Nick Wallgren, said that the decision was “not fair to the players” nor "to the rest of VCT.”
Similarly, user Andrei Manzon said that Riot should "find common ground" with the players rather than punish them for the company's negligence. “If not for the fans, but for the love of the game.”
Riot reconsiders decision after backlash
As a result of the backlash and the petition, even after Faria addressed the situation on social media, Faria immediately tweeted another response on 31 August (Thursday).
“We hear you. There are still significant risks our team needs to dig into, but we’re working through this and hope to find a positive outcome for the players.”
This resulted in the final decision to allow the Players and the team to find a qualified organisation to absorb them and join the Americas League.
Team captain Jacob "Valyn" Batio tweeted that they were "officially looking for an org" and his appreciation to Riot "for re-considering their decision", but he also gave credit to the community for "voicing your opinions and aiding our situation."
Player Trent "Trent" Cairns was also ecstatic, tweeting his appreciation of the community, adding, “You guys really did it.”
Similarly, Michael “neT” Bernet expressed his gratitude to Riot and the community, saying, “This would not have been possible without you guys, and I will be forever grateful.”
This means that as long as the winning roster finds a suitable organisation, they will be able to compete in VCT 2024 and 2025.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.