Nick J. February 15, 2020
Riot Squad announced the release of their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team yesterday through a post on the organization’s official Twitter account.
After three seasons in ESL’s Mountain Dew League and two seasons in WINNERS League, Riot Squad cited ESL Pro League’s recent changes as a significant reason for the release.
This season, ESL trimmed half of its Pro League teams, limiting spots available in the Pro League and flooding its development league, MDL, with new talent. The move clearly created issues for a Riot Squad organization that was set to compete for a slot in Pro League after finishing second in MDL’s 32nd season.
“We’ve maintained an organizational goal of making it to Pro League this season, however between the changes within ESL and our inability to qualify through MDL finals, we’ve decided to take a break and regroup on the sidelines. We’ll be looking to make an entry back onto the scene after we feel more comfortable with the future structure and direction of the game,” Riot Squad said.
The decision comes at an odd time, especially as ESL Pro League’s main competitor, Flashpoint, started its open online qualifiers earlier this month. The new league made a point to court smaller organizations like Riot Squad, but the deal clearly wasn’t good enough to sway the organization. The ex-Riot Squad members have adopted the Bad News Bears moniker and are currently competing in the Flashpoint closed qualifiers with the following roster:
- Jonathan "Jonji" Carey
- Peter "ptr" Gurney
- Mitch "mitch" Semago
- Austin "crashies" Roberts
- Michael “Grim” Wince
The release of Riot Squad’s roster comes close to a month after the team, led by Counter-Strike vet ptr, made it to the semifinals of WINNERS League’s North American division before narrowly losing to INTZ. The roster is currently 1-0 in Flashpoint’s closed qualifiers after defeating fellow North American team Big Frames by a combined score of 32-3. The team will play the winner of Triumph versus Prospects in the qualifier’s upper bracket.
Riot Squad’s departure from the scene spells trouble for new leagues like Flashpoint, who are relying on smaller organizations to buy in, both figuratively and literally. In order to partake in its revenue-sharing model, Flashpoint is asking for a $2 million commitment from considered teams, while organizations that fill its open slots won’t be included in the share.
Without support from organizations like Riot Squad, Flashpoint may be in trouble. While the new league won’t want for teams judging by the turnout to its open qualifiers, the league may struggle to draw viewership if even the top of Counter-Strike’s tier-two scene aren't willing to compete.