The Guard huddles onstage before the start of the match at the VALORANT Masters Bracket Stage on April 16, 2022 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Riot criticized over handling of The Guard dismissal from VCT Americas league

By George Geddes


Aug 30, 2023

Reading time: 2 min

The developer and tournament organizer of the Valorant Champions Tour, Riot Games, has been criticized by the community after refusing to admit The Guard as the Challengers team into the Americas partnered league for 2024. 

Riot Games denied The Guard, which earned qualification to the league through the Ascension tournament earlier this year because the organization failed to “meet the deadline to agree to the Team Participation Agreement for VCT Americas,” Riot said in a statement. 

As a result, the five players and coach will be unable to compete in the highest level of competition in the Americas region unless they are signed by another team. If not, the players risk being unable to compete in the league they qualified to play in. 

Following the announcement, head of Valorant Esports at Riot Games Leo Faria addressed the situation in a long statement posted to Twitter last night. 

He gave his reasoning that allowing the five players and coach to be picked up by another team would suggest that teams could “buy” their way into the league, which Riot does not want. “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 said. 

He said that the second option, letting the runner-up of the Ascension tournament, in this case, M80, qualify for the league instead of The Guard, would set “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,” he said. 

The community criticized the response 

Several prominent figures in the esports ecosystem, including the likes of Ludwig, Disguised Toast, alongside Valorant professionals, responded to the statement by Faria. 

Disguised Toast questioned whether there would be two slots for Challengers teams next year to qualify for the partnered league and whether North America will miss a Challengers team in the league entirely for two years. 

Ludwig said that Riot should either let the players take the spot and allow for another organization to purchase the team, hence entering the league with an organization that is necessary for partnership, or let runner-up M80 qualify for the league. 

The overall sentiment is that the 2023 Challengers season was a waste, and players will not be rewarded for qualifying if their organization doesn’t abide by the rules, which is entirely out of the player’s control.