Author: Grayson Neander

Seven Partered VCT Teams to Debut Rosters in 2022 Tournament

Since the announcement of their VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) partnership program in early 2022, Riot has awarded partnership to 30 organizations across three different regional leagues: Americas League, EMEA League, and Pacific League.The Americas League, the most competitive of the three, hosts three regions: North America (NA), Latin America (LATAM), and Brazil (BR). It is based in Los Angeles, California and consists of the following ten teams:100 Thieves (NA)Cloud9 (NA)Evil Geniuses (NA)FURIA (BR)KRÜ Esports (LATAM)Leviatán (LATAM)LOUD (BR)MIBR (BR)NRG (NA)Sentinels (NA)The EMEA League is the only league to host only one region: Europe, Middle East, and Asia (EMEA). It is based in Berlin, Germany and consists of the following ten teams:FnaticFUT EsportsKOIKarmine CorpNatus VincereTeam LiquidTeam VitalityHereticsBBL EsportsGiants GamingThe Pacific League is the most diverse league, spanning three different regions and many more countries: Asia Pacific (APAC), Japan, and Korea. It is based in Seoul, Korea and consists of the following ten teams:Detonation GamingDRXGen.GGlobal EsportsPaper RexRex Regum QeonT1Talon EsportsTeam SecretZETA DivisionA Taste of Superteams: Red Bull Homeground #3Following the partnership process, partnered organizations across the globe scurried to sign the best players from each of their respective regions. While several seven-figure deals were signed for elite players like yay and TenZ, the team compositions around them have garnered significant interest from the community. Teams like Cloud9 and NAVI have developed what many fans consider to be “superteams,” teams composed of the best of the best players in the world.Since the announcement of these incredible rosters, fans from every region have been itching for each and every piece of VALORANT content they can find. Fortunately, 7 of the 30 partnered teams will be debuting their rosters ahead of the official kick off of the 2023 VCT season.Starting on December 9th, 100 Thieves; Cloud9; FUT Esports; KRÜ Esports; Team Heretics; Team Liquid; and Team Vitality will debut their rosters in the Red Bull Homeground #3 tournament.Red Bull Homeground #3 is a tournament hosted by Riot Games in partnership with Red Bull. The third iteration of the tournament boasts a $100,000 prize pool, with $50,000 going to the first place team. The format of the tournament is a single-round robin group stage that seeds into a single-elimination bracket.Although the matchups are still unannounced, the groups have already been drawn. Group A consists of Cloud9, Team Vitality, FOKUS, and KRÜ Esports. Group B consists of 100 Thieves, Team Heretics, Team Liquid, and FUT Esports. The top three teams from each group will advance into the bracketed playoffs, where they will play in a series of best-of-three matches until the Grand Final. The two remaining teams in the Grand Final will play a best-of-five for the first place prize.Which Rosters are Competing at Red Bull Homeground #3?As stated previously, 100 Thieves; Cloud9; FUT Esports; KRÜ Esports; Team Heretics; Team Liquid; and Team Vitality will be present at Red Bull Homeground #3. The rosters they are fielding are as follows:100 ThievesAsunabangDerrekStellarCryoCloud9yayZellsisVanityleafXeppaaFUT EsportsmojjqRaxsqw1MrFaliNATA KAPTANMujKRÜ EsportsKlausNagZxandDaveeysaxeddyTeam HereticskeloqzmixwellzeekBooAvovATeam LiquidsoulcasJamppiRedgarnAtsSayfTeam VitalityceNderBONECOLDMOLSIDestrianTwisten

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LEC Announces Major Format Changes Ahead of 2023

The League of Legends European Championship (formerly EULCS) has operated under a two-split system since the 2018 overhaul. In 2018, the league shifted from a two-group Spring/Summer format to a one-group, ten-team, two-split format. Historically, each split has hosted 18 games in a double round-robin format, with a proceeding playoff based on round-robin record. The top six teams with the best records were ushered into the playoffs, where they competed in a single-elimination, best-of-five format until only one winner remained.At that time, the league still promoted a relegation system, where the best ERL (European Regional League) teams would compete to replace the worst EULCS teams. The very next year, the league maintained their split format, but transitioned to a franchise system where teams could buy spots in the league and eliminate the threat of relegation for underfunded organizations.Under this system, the league rebranded to the LEC, and has maintained the same system for nearly five years. In the wake of the sudden emergence of a fourth seed, the LEC experienced its first-ever Worlds qualification, where a team lost every game in the playoffs.Seeking to provide a more competitive and fair environment, the LEC is looking to make a major overhaul in 2023.LEC Regular Split in 2023In place of the typical two-split system seen in the remainder of the major regions (LCS, LCK, LPL), the LEC is looking to transition to a more best-of-five centered layout. Starting in 2023, the LEC will have three splits, each hosting multiple best-of-three and best-of-five matchups.The first of these splits, the Winter Split, will start on January 23rd, and feature three weeks of “regular season” matchups. Departing from the typical double round robin format, the new system will feature a ten-team single round robin where every win matters. In the past, teams have had the opportunity to rally and recover poor records in the second round robin. Now, however, the two lowest performing teams will not have the opportunity to compete in a split once the round robin ends. The top eight teams, on the other hand, will move on to a best-of-three, double elimination tournament for a chance at one of four spots in the Winter Split Playoffs.The top four teams from this best-of-three tournament will move on to compete in the Winter Split Playoffs, while the bottom four will be eliminated from playoff contention. Those that remain in the top four will compete in a best-of-five, double elimination format to earn the title of Winter Split Champion. As in the current system, the top performing teams earn Championship Points: a type of currency that rewards consistent top teams with better placement in the World-qualifying playoffs at the end of the year.The Spring Split and Summer Split operate under the exact same rules, each rewarding the top teams with championship points ahead of the final tournament of the year.The tentative split dates are as follows:Winter Split (January 23rd – February)Spring Split (March – April)Summer Split (June – July)LEC Season FinalsFor the first time in its history, the LEC will feature a separate regional finals tournament to award their Worlds seed. In the past, the Summer Playoffs have acted as the Worlds-seed-allocating tournament. Starting in 2023, however, the LEC will host the Season Finals.The Season Finals invite the top six teams (via championship points) to the final LEC tournament of the year. To make winning the Winter, Spring, and Summer Splits important, the Season Finals guarantee a spot for each of the Split Champions across the three splits. This means that lower-seeded teams that have won a split are given precedence over teams with higher points. Similarly, if a single team wins multiple, or all, splits, the remaining teams with the highest Championship Points are invited to fill the remaining spots. Similar to the Split Playoffs, the Season Finals utilize a double elimination, best-of-five format where, presumably, the top three teams are invited to Worlds 2023.This year, the LEC was afforded a fourth seed following a minor region’s decision not to host a season among the COVID-19 crisis. If that seed is reinstated for 2023, the Season Finals will push the top four teams to Worlds instead of three.The tentative Season Finals dates are from August to September.

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Split to Return to VALORANT Competitive Map Pool in 2023

The removal of Split from the VALORANT competitive map pool earlier this year brought about mixed, but predominantly negative reactions from the community. In the game’s official update post, which was released a week prior to Split’s exit, the Maps team design lead Joe Lansford addressed the reasoning behind choosing Split:“We looked at a bunch of different factors when making this decision. Player sentiment, time since release, past and future planned updates, what the map brings in terms of strategic variance, as well as where Pearl fits into all of it (to name a few). When we plugged all those numbers into the magic algorithm machine, we landed on Split.”Since then, Split has been out of all competitive environments from the game’s open access public competitive queue as well as the largest events from the professional scene as well. Notably, Split was removed to make room for the arrival of VALORANT’s newest map Pearl.Rather than increasing the map pool to eight, the developers of the game rallied behind what they felt was the best system for the competitive ecosystem: the seven map pool system.The Seven Map Pool SystemThe seven map pool system is, in effect, exactly what its name entails. While there are currently eight total maps available to play in VALORANT’s various game modes, the competitive environment only hosts seven. The decision to establish a seven map limit stems from concerns vocalized in the Split-removal update post.Landsford explains that, while the vast majority of the VALORANT competitive maps consists of frequent and dedicated players, the continued expansion to the map pool severely inhibits new and “casual” (infrequent) players:“Too many maps to learn can feel overwhelming and doesn’t give some of you the opportunity to really go deep [learn in depth] on any one of them.”Lansford goes on to explain the minutiae of “going deep,” as well as the consideration of high-level, frequent players in the establishment of a seven map pool system.“The team thinks seven is a nice sweet spot that offers both variety and mastery. You don’t have to spend all your time learning new angles, lineups, and strategies. New players will have an easier onboarding experience. And pro teams get to have deeper, more exciting playbooks. Win, win, win.”Put simply, the seven map pool system is designed to lessen the learning curve required to pick up and continue playing the game, as well as to increase the strategic variety of professional play by limiting the number of maps each player must learn to play on and master.Update: Split is BackIn the conclusion of Lansford’s post, he hinted at Split’s eventual return in light of some changes:We’re pretty sure [Split] will be back sometime in the future though. Maybe even with some tweaks?Since then, the Maps team has been hard at work devising a new version of Split that will best fit the competitive environment in 2023. In the latest map update post, published on December 2nd, Lansford discussed the exciting map pool changes coming in 2023.First and foremost, Lansford announced that the map pool will officially change its rotation in early January when Patch 6.0 releases. Although exact dates were not given, he did explain which maps would be exiting and entering the pool. After five long months, Lansford confirmed that Split would be making its return to the map rotation.However, in the spirit of preserving the seven map pool equilibrium, he also confirmed that both Bind and Breeze would be leaving the map pool for similar reasons as Split.Obviously, the removal of two maps in the place of one does not maintain the seven map pool system. While the post does not detail why there will be only six maps, it is not the first time the pool will contain less than seven maps.Excluding the times where the game did not have at least seven maps, there was a small window in which the map pool contained six maps as Pearl had not yet arrived and Split had already been removed.While these changes had no effect on professional play, as the scene was in a quiet period preceding VALORANT Champions, there will be a noticeable impact once the new VCT Leagues kick off in early 2023.While these logistical concerns are not addressed in the post, Lansford ends the post with a reassuring message for unhappy readers:“We know some of you will be disappointed with these rotations but just like Split, these maps won’t be gone forever.”Check out more esports news. 

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Team Liquid Finalize 2023 LCS Roster with Verbal Agreement with World Champion Jungler

LCS free agency officially began on November 21st, when all League of Legends professional players’ contracts through 2022 expired. While massive rumors have swirled around the scene and sweeping changes have already taken place, Team Liquid has been largely silent on their approach to 2023. A few months ago, the Team Liquid Co-CEO Steve Arhancet teased plans for the roster in 2023, loosely discussing their plans to include talent from the “Team Liquid pipeline,” referring to their back-to-back academy championship team, on their lineup in 2023. While no specific details were given, many fans were left speculating which of the academy players would be promoted to the starting lineup.Team KoreaA few weeks ago, LCS insider and content creator Travis Gafford spoke on his stream about Team Liquid’s strategy for 2023. Although he had no player names to give at the time, Gafford leaked that Team Liquid would be taking an “all Korean” approach to the 2023 season. Rather than investing in English-speaking players as they had in the past, Team Liquid would be pivoting to a fully Korean-speaking team. Alongside the players, Gafford reported that the coaching staff would also be Korean.On November 18th, Team Liquid announced the signing of former T1 (formerly SKT T1) World Champion top laner Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan to lead their roster as the Head Coach in 2023. Less than two weeks later on November 29th, TL released a video detailing their roster direction headed into 2023. As leaked by Gafford, the four minute video hosted by Team Liquid League of Legends General Manager Jun “Dodo” Kang detailed TL’s all-Korean roster approach for 2023. Although Team Liquid has yet to officially log the player contracts in their database, Kang confirmed that star player Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in would be returning for his fifth year with the team. Alongside the Team Liquid veteran, Kang announced that both Harry “Haeri” Kang and Sean “Yeon” Sung from Team Liquid Academy would be promoted to the starting lineup for 2023.Two World ChampionsAs of November 30th, only those three players have been confirmed by Team Liquid to be starting in 2023. Fortunately for Team Liquid fans, insiders, leakers, and investigative journalists from the community have already determined the remaining two players. Joining World Champion CoreJJ, are former Cloud9 LCS Spring MVP Park “Summit” Woo-tae and current 2022 World Champion Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon from DRX.The news of Summit’s arrival comes from renowned League of Legends insider Brieuc “LEC Wooloo” Seeger, who announced Summit’s return in full on November 22nd. His complete post is as follows:[Sources] Toplaner Summit has reached a verbal agreement with Team Liquid and will return to the LCS.FlyQuest and MAD Lions are other teams that considered the toplaner during the offseason.The news of Pyosik’s move was announced by investigative journalist Alejandro Gomis, whose full post is as follows:Sources: Pyosik has reached a verbal agreement with Team Liquid and will be the team’s LCS jungler.The winner of Worlds will leave Korea to compete in North America.This marks the first time in LCS history that an LCS team fields two World Champions since Impact played alongside CoreJJ on Team Liquid from Spring 2018 to Summer 2020. Aside from those two, only Bang, Piglet, and Crown have both won a World Championship and started in the LCS.

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T1 to Retain 2022 LCK Roster for 2023

Following their defeat in the 2022 League of Legends World Championship Finals, many fans were concerned about the future of T1 moving forward. The renowned League of Legends franchise were the heavy favorites to take home what would have been their fourth-ever international title; however, the LCK titans fell short to the greatest underdog adversary in League of Legends eSports history in DRX.In the wake of their defeat, T1 would have to face the upcoming free agency period on November 21st. Fortunately for the organization, only one of their players’ contracts expired this year; unfortunately, it happened to be their longest-tenured player, and the widely touted G.O.A.T of the League of Legends eSports scene, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.G.O.A.T StatusSang-hyeok has been with T1 since Spring 2013, making him the longest-tenured active player in the scene with nearly 10 years of professional experience. Unlike most other pros from his era, Sang-hyeok has only ever played for one organization: T1. Most of his career, however, was spent under their previous name, SK Telecom T1, which they rebranded from in 2020.Since joining T1 in 2013, Faker has built the most decorated resume in League of Legends history. His achievements are so far ahead of his opponents that when the GOAT discussion is brought to light, it is often difficult to find anyone of similar pedigree.Looking at some of his achievements, it is clear why the “Unkillable Demon King” remains at the forefront of the discussion. Faker leads the scene with the most domestic titles at 10; meaning, of the 23 splits he has competed in he has won 43% of them. He has the most international titles at five: three World titles and two MSI titles. He is currently the only active player to have won three world titles, and is one of only four players (his teammates) to have ever claimed back-to-back world titles (2015 and 2016). Of those four players to defend the title, only Sang-hyeok and teammate Bengi have ever won three total titles.Three More Years!As the most prolific League of Legends players in the world, it is no surprise that Sang-hyeok received multiple offers from teams outside of the LCK. While he has played in the LCK his entire career, rumors indicate that he was interested in offers from the LCS. Although the exact details are unknown, the rumors are that both FlyQuest and Team Liquid reached out to the G.O.A.T.Despite the undoubtedly high offers from the American teams, Sang-hyeok has agreed to remain with T1 for another three years. While he has teased the public with offers from other teams in the past, it is no surprise that the T1 superstar will remain with the franchise he helped build. Despite entering free agency multiple times, Sang-hyeok has never left T1.What is surprising, however, is the fact that he is set to play for another three years. While eSports careers are usually short, Sang-hyeok is already pushing the boundaries of what most viewers consider to be “old.” Although the 26 year old is young in the grand scheme of things, the average League of Legends pro is much younger. Sang-hyeok’s longevity, however, is what has defined his incredible career. If he continues to be as consistent as he has over the past decade, three more years will be no problem for the G.O.A.T.

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