G2 Esports returns to Valorant with NA Challengers team
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Berlin-based G2 Esports is returning to Valorant with a North American team, but not as a partnered Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) team. The sqaud will compete in the Challengers tier of competitive play. This level serves as Riot’s entry point into the competitive Valorant ecosystem.
However, G2’s goal is to become a partnered team — or at least compete in the international league. In 2023, Riot will host the Valorant Ascension tournament in each of its competitive regions — Americas, EMEA and Pacific. The timing for Americas has not been announced, but the EMEA version will take place in July. The top two teams from each of these tournaments will earn a spot in the partnered leagues for two years.
In a statement, Alban Dechelotte, managing director of G2 Esports, confirmed: “We’re coming to North America with the ambition to take the opportunity that Riot Games offers us to earn our spot in the International League through the Ascension Tournament.”
Like many North American organizations, the team has signed talent that competed in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The team features an experienced core of former Sentinel’s stars ShahZaM and dapr. The duo played CS:GO or Valorant professionally since 2012 and 2016 respectively. The team has also picked up young breakout stars — penny, wippie and oxy — from last year’s VCT. British coach and former CS:GO pro player and coach, Immi, will lead them in 2023.
Last year, G2 Esports was reportedly a shoe-in for a partnership slot in the VCT until the organization’s former CEO and founder Carlos ‘ocelote’ Rodríguez posted a video partying with Andrew Tate. This was particularly bad given how much the organization had invested in Valorant. G2 Esports hosted a major invitational tournament in 2021 and their women’s team just won Valorant Game Changers.
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The partnership system overhauled the structure of competitive Valorant. It shifted the ecosystem from open qualifiers to only partnered teams competing in the highest tier of play. While this stability will look more attractive to sponsors, Riot only awarded 30 partnership spots in total, 10 to each competitive region. This left several teams, such as G2, and their players only able to compete in the Challengers tier.
While many teams have chosen to drop their Valorant rosters, G2 benefits from competing in the North American Challengers league. Afterall, G2 Esports wants to expand its audience and foothold in North America.
“In the last six years, we have seen how supportive G2 fans are for our successes and also for our memes in North America. The Valorant expansion is the continuation of the G2 USA story in Rocket League and Fortnite, and we can’t wait to write this new and successful chapter,” Dechelotte stated.
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