This story has already had so many twists and turns it does make one wonder what is next for Valorant. In a very entertaining match between The Guard and M80 Esports, The Guard won 3-1. This victory resulted from their hard work and a ticket to the Valorant Champions League Americas. In a recent turn of events, much discussion has been on what took place next. Within this article, we will be looking at a complete recap of this saga as well as what will be the implications in the future for the Valorant Franchising League.
The Guard is an Esports Organization that has been present for a few years in the industry. In 2022, they made it up to the playoffs of the VCT Masters Reykjavik. In 2023, they began their run in VCT Challengers North Americas and reached the grand finals, qualifying them for VCT Americas Ascension. They went on to win the tournament after defeating M80 Esports in the grand finals. One thing to point out is that The Guard is owned by Stan Kroenke, the owner of Arsenal Football Club. Known to be a shrewd businessman. In February 2023, there were reports and tweets out by various employees of The Guard that they had been laid off. As such, certain people question what will happen if the team wins it all and qualifies for the Franchised League in Valorant.
It was exciting for the fans of The Guard to see their team make it to the top, but Riot didn't realize what impact this would have. Following the win, it was reported that the organization didn't respond to communications by Riot. As such, on 29 August, Riot put out a statement stating that The Guard will not be participating in the Franchised League in 2024 and the Americas League will have 10 teams. Due to this notice, there was quite a lot of backlash that Riot had to face. This decision by them, in short, made the VCT Challengers and Ascension 2023 in America null and void.
Following the response from various influential figures in the Esports industry on 2 September, Riot put out an update stating that they are working with the players from The Guard to find a viable solution. This statement allows the players of The Guard to look for organizations that would want to hire them. This tweet did stop the backlash, but there was a tweet that will be important in the long run. This tweet was by Leo Faria, the Global Head of Valorant Esports, on 30 August. Within this tweet, 3 distinct actions could be taken. Lets deep dive into them.
The Previous Stand By Valorant And Why It Was The Safest Option
Leo Faria's tweet was posted online after the official announcement by Riot about there being 10 teams in the VCT Americas League. This option stated that there would be no team that would be promoted. Thus, making the current year's results null and void. This idea did receive quite a bit of backlash from everyone, but it did make sense professionally. Ideally, by adding no teams to the league, Riot wouldn't need to change their rules due to The Guard not responding on time and them being at fault. Secondly, any loophole in the future that would be created by any change will not be exploited at all. The primary issue was that the players played under the organization rather than as free agents in the tournament; if a team in the future has the same situation, this would result in other orgs leaping at the chance of buying a team that qualified for the league.
This decision would have massively affected the players playing their hearts out this year. Their choice to stick together, not sign to any franchised league, and break the core would have meant nothing. If this option was taken, there would be another doubt in the eyes of other esports organizations if they would want to invest in this Esport for another year. Unlike the teams in the VCT Franchised Leagues, teams in the VCT Challengers leagues get no backing from Riot.
M80 Esports Who Finishes Second Would Be Promoted and Why This Is Confusing
Typically, in sports, if the team who wins has been disqualified, then the second-place team wins the event. In this case, there are a lot more layers before even allowing M80 Esports the chance to promote. Firstly, no form of disqualification or unfair means was used by the players of The Guard to win the event. Secondly, the party at fault is the organization of The Guard and not the roster playing under them. If M80 Esports were even awarded this promotion, it would be unfair to the players who won the event. This would have resulted in many discussions, which would need to be more fair to the players of M80 Esports and their organization.
What If A Free-Agent Team Makes It To The Top and Wins VCT Ascension?
This hypothetical situation is the most confusing and exciting part of the topic. The players of the Guard were playing under the banner of an organization and thus were told they couldn't play. As such, what if the players won the event as free agents? What would happen next? If they qualify for the Franchising League, they must provide the same obligations as the other teams. Now, that begs the question: Will such a team be allowed to be bought by an organization? If so, who will do a background check on said esports organization? The other aspect to think about is whether Riot has a list of organizations ready, if this does take place.
If this is true, in the next few weeks or months, we will see the players of The Guard in conversations with esports organizations approved by Riot. It's only time before there will be some conclusive update. With the first tournament of the new season said to take place in January 2024, all of the VCT Ascension winners will also be present in the league.