Category: Esports

Reports Suggest Cloud9 Will Finalize Roster With Zellsis

Following their failure to qualify for Riot Games’s 2023 VALORANT franchising system, Version1 (V1) released their roster into the free agency market. Although there is a Tier 2 scene in place for unqualified teams to be able to ascend into the franchising league, V1 opted to dismantle their roster in favor of some of their players being picked up by a franchised team.Fortunately, it appears that their gamble has paid off for their most well-known player.Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro, who shined during his brief stand-in with Sentinels during the North American Last Chance Qualifier (NA LCQ), is set to sign with Cloud9 and join the likes of Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, Nathan “leaf” Orf, and Erick “Xeppaa” Bach.Although teams are required to hold six players in accordance with Riot Games’s franchising rules, these five players will likely be the starting members for the 2023 iteration of Cloud9’s VALORANT roster.SEN Zellsis: A Memory of the PastAlthough Zellsis is best known for his recent appearance on Sentinels during the NA LCQ, he entered the competitive tactical shooter scene through Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). While he played for a number of teams during his time in the CS:GO scene, one of his more notable appearances was with Cloud9 in 2019. His time there was short, but it allowed him to establish a relationship with the organization that likely factored in his decision to join Cloud9.When Montemurro spoke with confidence on his stream a few days ago regarding his team choice—“I’ve decided on a team…I’m basically signed”—many fans speculated he would return to Sentinels. Despite playing for them for only a few games, the atmosphere of the team appeared very positive. Prior to the franchising announcement, this positive relationship between Montemurro and Sentinels led many people to assume he would leave V1 and partner with Sentinels. This theory, of course, was thrown away when Montemurro announced he would be returning to V1.Weeks later, it was announced that V1 had not made the cut and Sentinels had. This fact, combined with Zellsis’s response on stream brought new life to that theory, and had many fans believing Zellsis would once again appear on the Sentinels lineup.Unfortunately for the SEN Zellsis fans, it appears that Montemurro will team up with the “best player in the world” and join yay as another one of Cloud9’s latest signings.The State of NA Franchising Post-ZellsisWith vanity, leaf, Xeppaa; yay; and now Zellsis on their roster, it appears Cloud9 is putting together a super team. If these players are to be on their final roster, Cloud9 will become the second North American team to finalize their 2023 franchise roster in the Americas League. This comes only days after 100 Thieves finalized their roster with the signing of former XSET player Cryo.So far, only these two teams have made any roster moves. The other three franchised teams (NRG, Evil Geniuses, and Sentinels) have remained quiet. Despite the early moves by 100T and C9, the free agency market still contains plenty of top-tier players yet to be signed. Most notably, 4/5ths of both the OpTic Gaming and XSET rosters still remain unsigned; the Guard’s players, as well as the rest of V1 and most of FaZe Clan, are also free agents.

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Reports Indicate Cloud9 to Sign VALORANT Superstar yay

The biggest name in the free agent market is set to sign with one of the biggest names in North American esports history, Superstar yay. Read more about the signing here.Reports Indicate Cloud9 to Sign VALORANT Superstar yayFollowing their failure to qualify for Riot Games’s 2023 VALORANT franchising system, all members of OpTic Gaming were released into the free agency market. Although there is a Tier 2 system in place for teams to ascend into the franchising league, the members of OpTic Gaming have made it clear, through their multiple top three international performances this year, that they are each worthy of being 1 of the 25-players allocated to play for North America in the Americas League.Widely touted as the best player in the free agency market as well as even the best player in the world, OpTic gaming’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker is wanted by all five of the franchised North American teams.Whiteaker has openly spoken about his interests in playing exclusively in North America. “El Diablo,” a moniker Whiteaker has earned through his incredible performances, has reportedly even rejected a million dollar deal with an APAC team in the Pacific League and multiple offers to play for an EMEA team, citing an interest in staying at “home” in NA.Five for FiveSince his release into the free agency market, superstar yay has garnered the interest of all five franchised North American teams.Following the announcement of former XSET player Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban joining 100 Thieves, 100T CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag spoke openly on his live stream about yay. Making it clear that finances were not an issue, Nadeshot stated that Panganiban was the better fit for the current 100T lineup due to his age and chemistry with some of the players already on 100T. Because both Panganiban and Whiteaker play the same role, Cryo’s signing ruled out any chance of yay joining 100T.Although 100T was not yet ruled out at this point, Whiteaker announced on his stream that he would not play for Evil Geniuses, leaving only three possible teams left for him to play for.Sentinels, the fan-favorite landing spot for yay, also had conflicting interests with yay. Although many fans wanted to see the likes of TenZ and yay on the same team, both players play in the same role. TenZ has always been the focus of the Sentinels team since their inception, meaning a shift in role is unlikely for him. It is also extremely unlikely that Sentinels would drop TenZ given his history with the organization and importance to their branding. This left only NRG and Cloud9 left for Whiteaker to sign with.“On Cloud9”With only two desirable options left in the Americas League it is not a big surprise that superstar yay is set to sign with Cloud9. As one of the oldest and most distinguished organizations in all of esports, Cloud9 offers not only the facilities and resources, but also the finances to host such a prolific player.While NRG are backed by funding from the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, their facilities and reputation are comparatively inferior. With Cloud9 being such a titan in the industry and having a successful history in every esport they are a part of, they are a much better fit for a player as prestigious and sought after as yay.If the reports are true and the deal is finalized, superstar yay will compete alongside the three players Cloud9 retained following the announcement of franchising and the opening of the free agency market: Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, Nathan “leaf” Orf, and Erick “Xeppaa” Bach.

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100T Reportedly Signing Former XSET Player Cryo

In the aftermath of the VALORANT franchising fiasco, both of North America’s best teams were left out of the Americas League. Without teams to play for, the players on both OpTic Gaming and XSET were released into free agency for the franchised teams to pick apart. While superstar players like OpTic’s yay and Marved are still on the market, it appears 100 Thieves have their eyes set on someone different.The Current State of ThingsThe current 100 Thieves lineup has come tremendously far over the past five months. Jokingly referred to as “Will Asuna Bang Derrek and Stellar?” the Thieves roster consists of IGL Brenden “Stellar” McGrath, Controller Sean “bang” Bazerra, Duelist William “Will” Cheng, Flex Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk, and Initiator Derrek “Derrek” Ha.Hand selected by coaches Sean “sgares” Gares and Michael “Mikes” Hockom and General Manager Daniel “ddk” Kapadia, this young lineup has already built up quite the resume.In their debut at NA Stage 2 Challengers, the Thieves managed to make it out of the group stage over established names like Sentinels, Cloud9, and The Guard. With only a few weeks of practice together, they managed to make it all the way to the Lower Bracket Quarterfinals before being eliminated by FaZe Clan.Despite not qualifying for Masters Copenhagen, their domestic performance had shown 100T CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag exactly what he had hoped for when he commissioned sgares, ddk, and Mikes to put together these five young players.From there, 100T only continued to thrive. Just three short months later, this same lineup beat out all of the North American teams that had previously beaten them in NA Masters Stage 2 in the NA Last Chance Qualifier. With a 3-0 victory over The Guard in the Grand Final, 100T booked their ticket to the largest VALORANT tournament of the year: VALORANT Champions.Although they were eliminated in the group stage, they did manage to secure a win over Fnatic in the opening match of their first ever international tournament. This showing, combined with 100 Thieves’s close relationship with Riot Games, earned them a spot in the newly franchised Americas League alongside Sentinels, Cloud9, NRG, and Evil Geniuses.Looking to the StarsWhile each member of the current 100 Thieves roster has proven themselves to be among the best players in their role, the allure of the stars in the free agency market seems to have gotten to their management.Reports indicate that 100T will acquire former XSET player Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban. Also known as Cryo, the former XSET player previously played in the flex and duelist roles, and was renowned for his incredible plays on Chamber. Because his signing is just a rumor, it has not yet been revealed which player he will replace on the 100T lineup. Community speculation indicates he will take Will’s spot as they share the same role; however, he could also just be a substitute.Part of the new franchising rules require each franchised team to have a six-man roster. This means that each team must have a substitute player on their bench at all times. If Cryo is to join 100T, he would fulfill the six-man requirement, but not necessarily join the starting lineup. This is, however, very unlikely as Cryo is one of the best players in NA, and is touted as one of the best chamber players in NA behind yay.

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Team Liquid Releases LCS Head Coach Guilhoto

Following their fourth-place finish in the LCS Summer Playoffs, the Team Liquid superteam failed to accomplish their two “expected” goals: win the LCS and make Worlds. Weeks after their elimination, Team Liquid CEO—and the lead proponent behind the creation of the superteam—Steve Arhancet, posted a statement on the official Team Liquid League of Legends Twitter page stating that the 2023 Team Liquid LCS roster “[would] be different” than this year’s iteration.What Has Been “Different” So Far?While no further elaboration has been made on Team Liquid’s part, speculation has run rampant, and roster moves have already gone underway. The most significant change, so far, has been Hans sama’s departure from the team. Reportedly returning to Europe to play for KCorp (Karmine Corp), the former Rogue ADC is looking to enter the LFL for the 2023 season with hopes of returning to his 2021 form.While Hans sama’s performance has been lackluster this year, his previous performances on Rogue impressed some of the best players in the scene. Most notably, Gen.G’s ADC, Ruler, who plays in what fans consider to be the most “difficult region in the world” (the LCK: League of Legends Champions Korea), publicly stated that he was impressed with Hans sama’s performances in scrims during Worlds 2021.Outside of Hans sama’s departure, the fate of the rest of the squad is yet to be determined. Speculations have been made, however, about promoting the 2022 Spring/Summer LCS Academy Champions from the bot lane onto the main roster. The bot lane duo of Eyla and Yeon have been touted as “LCS-ready” players since their victory in the Spring Proving Ground Grand Finals. The only issue with their promotion would be the status of CoreJJ. Replacing CoreJJ with Eyla would mean releasing their longest tenured player, who is largely regarded as the franchise player of the organization. As of right now, these three players remain on their respective rosters and only Hans sama has been removed from the starting LCS lineup.It’s a Coach DiffWhile other roster changes are likely on the horizon, Team Liquid has decided to make some changes to the coaching staff. On September 26th, Team Liquid posted an official announcement on their League of Legends Twitter page stating that they would be releasing their 2022 Head Coach André “Guilhoto” Pereira.Although the internal struggles that resulted in Team Liquid’s subpar performances this year were largely between the players, it appears that Team Liquid is looking to rebuild their infrastructure completely heading into 2023. Guilhoto, who was signed to coach TL’s superteam in November of 2021, has led Team Liquid for a little under a year. He was acquired from Immortals after they dismantled their roster to rebuild completely in 2021.While his opportunity with Team Liquid was certainly his biggest gig, Guilhoto has been in the scene on many teams since 2016. He began his career with For The Win Esports, a Portuguese team that plays in the LPLOL. After less than six months with the team, he received an opportunity to coach Giants Gaming, an LVP SuperLiga team. After spending a year with Giants, Guilhoto was hired to coach Schalke 04 in the LEC. His stint with the team lasted the entirety of the 2018 season before he moved on to coach Origen, another team in the LEC. This time, Guilhoto remained with the team for two years, the longest coaching tenure of his entire career, before moving on to work with Astralis for two months.His time as Astralis was short as he found another opportunity, this time in North America. Hired by Immortals, Guilhoto coached the team for the entire 2021 season before Team Liquid bought him out to guide their new superteam.With TL’s superteam dissolved, it appears that Guilhoto will have to look for his eighth coaching position for the 2023 season.

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Top Five Teams Going into Worlds 2022

The first stage of the largest League of Legends tournament of the year, Worlds 2022, is just around the corner. Starting September 29th, 12 of the 24 invited teams will duke it out in the Play-Ins stage for one of four spots in the main event.These 12 teams are the lowest seeded teams when regional strength is taken into account, and must qualify through Play-ins if they wish to compete against the top teams from around the world. The 12 teams not participating in the Play-Ins have already qualified for the main event through 1st and 2nd place finishes in their respective regions’ league championships.Although most of the best teams will not be competing in the Play-Ins, here is a look at who the top five teams are going into this weekend.#5: RNGAs the only team on this list who is competing in the Play-Ins stage, the back-to-back MSI champions have a lot of work cut out for them. Despite coming 4th in the LPL, RNG are one of the most unique teams in the entire world.While the meta revolves largely around scaling and teamfighting, RNG’s aggressive early game makes them one of the most difficult teams to outlast into the late game. While the three teams ahead of them in the LPL have managed to beat them, the LPL is the strongest league in the world. Top teams from other regions will struggle to beat them if they are not adequately prepared.Their roster for Worlds remains the same as it was for the LPL Championship:Top: BreatheJungle: WeiMid: XiaohuADC: GalaSupport: MingSubstitute (Support): Bunny#4. EDward Gaming (EDG)The defending World Champions have made it back to the World’s stage in hopes of becoming the second ever team to win back-to-back championships. Although they had a rocky Summer Split, they returned to form to upset Victory Five and RNG and secure the LPL’s third seed.EDG retains the same roster they had when they won Worlds 2021:Top: FlandreJungle: JieJieMid: ScoutADC: ViperSupport: MeikoSubstitute (Jungle): JunJia#3. Gen.GGen.G is the only non-LPL team to make the top five list this year. While Korea’s LCK has long been touted as the best region in the world, the LPL has dominated the world stage over the past five years. Despite this, Gen.G looks to be one of the best teams in the World at the moment.After losing to T1 in the Spring Playoffs, and watching their LCK rivals reach second place at MSI, Gen.G had a massive chip on their shoulder. When the Summer Split kicked off, Gen.G posted one of the most impressive records the LCK has ever seen. Going 17-1, Gen.G had a nearly flawless record, losing only to T1 in a close 2-1 series.Despite their loss, Gen.G did not lose tempo. They entered the LCK Summer Playoffs as the top seed and got their glorious revenge over their rivals. In an incredible 3-0 fashion, Gen.G claimed their first ever LCK title and their ADC Ruler earned the LCK MVP award.Gen.G retains the same roster as the Summer Playoffs going into Worlds 2022.Top: DoranJungle: PeanutMid: ChovyADC: RulerSupport: LehendsSubstitute (Jungle): YoungJae#2. Top EsportsTop Esports has one of the best rosters the LPL has ever seen. As the only team in the tournament with an eight-player lineup, Top Esports is prepared for almost any matchup their opponents will throw at them. Despite having a rather quiet Spring showing, TES flourished in Summer, and claimed the LPL’s second seed at Worlds.Although they did not win the LPL Championship, their jungler—the current best jungler in the world—Tian, earned himself the LPL MVP award.TES retains the same roster going into Worlds.Top: WaywardJungle: TianMid: knightADC: JackeyLoveSupport: MarkSupport: ZhuoSubstitute (Top): QingtianSubstitute (Jungle): Xiaopeng#1. JDGChina’s number one team, and the current best team in the world, also has an extensive roster. Although they do not have as many as TES, JDG’s seven-man roster was enough to best TES 3-2 in the LPL Summer Playoffs. Although both of their series against TES were 3-2, JDG is currently 4-0 against TES, but all of their series have gone the distance.JDG retains the same roster from the Summer Playoffs:Top: 369Jungle: KanaviMid: YagaoADC: HopeSupport: MissingSubstitute (Top): M1kuyaSubstitute (Mid): YimengRead more esports news.

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Riot Games Announces All 30 Partnered Teams for the 2023 VALORANT Challengers League

Earlier this year Riot Games announced their partnership plan for the 2023 international competitive VALORANT scene. Surprising many, Riot announced that they would institute a partnership plan where organizations would need to apply for a limited number of spots to compete in the 2023 tier one competitive scene.At the time, details about the number of spots per region were sparse, but hundreds of teams from across the world applied for the opportunity to continue to compete on the big stage in 2023.Only a few months ago, Riot followed up on their partnership statement with an explanation of how the regions would be divided. The format they chose is a three-league series with ten partnered teams in each league. The three leagues would consist of an all EMEA league, an Americas league (NA, LATAM, SA), and a Pacific league (APAC, Korea, and Japan).At the time they did not announce the division of teams in each league, meaning the number of spots per region was not clear. However, the 2022 system had well over 30 teams actively competing across the world, making the partnership process particularly worrying for many teams.Riot Games Partnership GuidelinesBefore this week, Riot’s standards for partnership were not made public. However, alongside their partnership announcement, Riot released their three guidelines for partnership consideration. The three parameters Riot was looking for when deciding which teams would receive partnership is as follows:Organizations who share our values of always putting fans first, celebrate our diverse community, and are committed to supporting pros.Organizations who have created a strong connection with their fans through engaging content, a compelling brand, and an exciting roster.Organizations who build for the long-term, with a focus on sustainability.While all of the partnered teams likely meet these standards, there is another trend among them. Most, but not all, of the partnered teams have worked or currently work with Riot in some capacity. The most common relationship is that most of the partnered organizations have League of Legends teams.While this is not true for all of the teams, having a LoL team definitely gave a boost to some of the less popular organizations over some more prominent names.Americas LeagueThe first, and most exciting league of the three, is the Americas League. The split of regional teams Riot selected for this league is five NA teams, three Brazilian teams, and two LATAM teams. The teams selected are as follows:NA100 ThievesSentinelsCloud9Evil GeniusesNRGBrazilLOUD EsportsFURIA EsportsMIBRLATAMKRÜ EsportsLeviatánNotably, North America’s top two teams were left without partnership. Both OpTic Gaming, the best performing team—across all regions—this year, and XSET were not chosen to receive partnership.Interestingly, Evil Geniuses, a team that has never made an international appearance, did make partnership. Despite their lack of performances, EG does currently have a League of Legends team competing in the LCS, Riot’s North American league.EMEA LeagueRecognizing their decorated history in the competitive tactical shooter scene, Riot decided to give EMEA an entire league to themselves. Similar to the Americas League, a few of the quieter teams to qualify do have League of Legends teams in the LEC. In fact, six of the partnered teams have LoL teams in Europe.Regardless, the ten EMEA teams selected for partnership are as follows:FnaticTeam LiquidTeam VitalityKarmine CorpTeam HereticsGiantsNAVIFUT EsportsBBL EsportsKOIPacific LeagueThe final league in Riot’s three-league system is the Pacific League. Combining the most regions to make up its ten teams, the Pacific League offers the most regional diversity, but likely the least amount of competition.The highest placing team at an international event in this league is a fourth place contender. The other two leagues have multiple international winners and runners-up.Levels of competition aside, the ten Pacific teams selected for partnership are as follows:ZETA DIVISIONDetonatioN GamingGen.GT1DRXTeam SecretPaper RexRex Regum QeonTalon EsportsGlobal EsportsCheck out more esports news.

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LOUD Esports Win VALORANT Champions 2022

The second ever VALORANT “world championship” has officially come to a close with LOUD Esports winning 3-1 over their international rival OpTic Gaming. The Brazil based team comprised of Erick “aspas” Santos; Felipe “Less” Basso; Bryan “pANcada” Luna; Matias “saadhak” Delipetro; and Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi, has earned Brazil its first ever international major win as well as its first ever international title.They have become the second ever team to win a world title, alongside only EMEA’s Acend whose roster has since dissolved.The JourneyMaking their third consecutive appearance at an international tournament, LOUD esports has become the only Brazilian team to qualify for three majors in a row. In fact, LOUD was the only Brazilian team in attendance at Masters Copenhagen as the final spot in the LATAM vs. BR playoffs was claimed by LATAM’s KRÜ Esports.Although their performance in Copenhagen was lackluster—they were eliminated in the group stage—their showing in Istanbul was nothing short of spectacular.LOUD has previously qualified for the Grand Finals back at Masters Reykjavík, but fell short to NA’s OpTic Gaming, their perennial rivals, 3-0. Their run in Istanbul—the location of this year’s VALORANT Champions tournament—however, went much differently.The history between these two is rich. Despite playing in two different regions, these two have faced off seven times. In all three majors that LOUD has qualified for, they have had to compete against OpTic Gaming in the group stage.While that might not mean much on paper, OpTic has never failed to make it out of groups. What’s even more impressive is their international record. OpTic have made two of the three Grand Finals this year.What happened in the other tournament? OpTic finished 3rd, after losing to the tournament’s eventual winners, FPX, in the loser’s bracket finals. With a record like that, having OpTic in your group means that you can safely assume that one of the two group stage promotional spots has already been taken.In Istanbul, LOUD managed to make it out of the group stage alongside OpTic, an improvement upon their Copenhagen performance. Despite making it out, they did so behind OpTic, who handed them their first, and only, loss of the tournament.Following their loss to OpTic, LOUD defeated Japan’s ZETA DIVISION 2-0 to move onto the playoffs.Their first playoff match was against LATAM’s Leviatán, whom they swiftly defeated 2-0.A win in the upper bracket meant that they would have to play another upper bracket winner. This time, LOUD faced off against Korea’s DRX, whom they also dismantled 2-0. Two wins in the upper bracket placed them once again in the face of OpTic. This matchup went quite differently to their previous encounters, and the kings of Brazil defeated OpTic 2-0.A Grand Final for the History BooksClawing their way back into title contention from the Lower Bracket Finals, OpTic Gaming defeated DRX in a nail-biting 3-2 match to rematch against LOUD in the Grand Final. Meeting for the second time in the Grand Finals of an international tournament this year, the pressure was once again on OpTic’s shoulders to win from the lower bracket.At Masters Reykjavík, LOUD also defeated OpTic in the Upper Bracket finals; however, OpTic rebounded tremendously and claimed the first title of the year in a flawless 3-0 sweep,This time around, the tables turned almost entirely. Despite handily defeating LOUD on Bind after narrowly losing the opener on Ascent, OpTic could not hold on. With a 1-1 record, the two teams made it to triple overtime on Breeze before LOUD clinched the victory to bring themselves to match point.Unfortunately for OpTic, the infamous Green Wall seemed to run out of steam. In a record-shattering 1.5 million view final match, LOUD defeated OpTic 13-5 on Haven and claimed the 2022 VALORANT Champions title.Check out more esports news.

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What a Win at VALORANT Champions Would Mean for Each of the Remaining Teams

There are only four teams left at VALORANT Champions. Read more about what a victory in Istanbul would mean for each of those teams.What a Win at VALORANT Champions Would Mean for Each of the Remaining TeamsThe largest VALORANT tournament of the year has already become one of the most competitive events in VALORANT history. As opposed to last year’s EMEA-dominant showing—three of the four finalist teams were from EMEA—the final four teams at VALORANT Champions: Istanbul 2022 all represent different regions.Of course, EMEA still has a presence among the final four. The winners of the most recent major (VCT Stage 2: Masters Copenhagen), FPX, became the last standing team from EMEA after Fnatic was eliminated by DRX in the Lower Bracket Quarterfinals.Unsurprisingly, North America also holds a representative in the final four. OpTic Gaming, NA’s most successful team in recent history, is once again NA’s last hope. As the winners of the VCT Stage 1: Masters Reykjavík, OpTic Gaming is the only other team to win a major this year. Notably, OpTic finished 3rd at Copenhagen, making them the best performing team this year.Alongside FPX and OpTic is the first Korean team to reach the final four this year. DRX, formerly known as Vision Strikers, have been a regular at international tournaments since their inception in 2021. A Korean team has never won a world title, let alone a major. With DRX consistently making it out of the group stage, they have the potential to make a title run.Last, but certainly not least, is OpTic Gaming’s biggest rival. No, not “literally any team from EMEA.” From Brazil, LOUD Esports makes a triumphant return. Having faced OpTic four times this year already, LOUD vs OpTic has become a regular international matchup. Although OpTic has historically gotten the best of Brazil’s top team, LOUD are no joke and have looked especially lethal thus far.FPXAfter their shocking path to success at Masters Copenhagen, FPX have made a name for themselves as the best team in EMEA. With the dissolution of Acend, the 2021 VALORANT Champions, Fnatic was thought to be the gem of EMEA. Although Team Liquid’s name was also brought up, roster changes earlier in the year mixed with Fnatic’s dominance over the rest of the region made them hard to argue for.Notably, FPX remained largely undiscussed. They were consistently overshadowed by Fnatic. In fact, Fnatic won four consecutive matchups against them prior to their Copenhagen lower bracket matchup. Of course, we all know how that went, FPX went on to win the entire tournament, and lay claim to the throne of EMEA.A win in Istanbul would mark the start of the first dynasty since Sentinels dominated in early 2021. Additionally, it would give EMEA sole claim to international titles. With Acend being the only other team to win a title (Champions started in 2021), EMEA is the only region with claims to an international title. Although FPX are not the frontrunners—OpTic and LOUD remain in the upper bracket—they were not the frontrunners in their Copenhagen run either.OpTic GamingAs the most consistent team currently in title contention, OpTic Gaming is the most likely to take it all. While that narrative is certainly enticing to NA supporters, OpTic were also expected to win Masters Copenhagen. In their defense, a third place finish is still commendable, but the expectations are on their shoulders once again.There is one additional factor working in OpTic’s favor this time around. Prior to this tournament, OpTic was famously known for their inability to beat an EMEA team. Since they rebranded to OpTic Gaming earlier this year, they had yet to take a match off of an EMEA team. In fact, their victory at Masters Reykjavík was done without facing a single EMEA team. Luckily for NA fans, OpTic broke their curse in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals after defeating Team Liquid 2-1.With spiritual forces no longer at play, a win in Istanbul is not only possible, but extremely important. If OpTic lays claim to the second ever—and NA’s first ever—international title, a case can finally be made for OpTic being the best ever team in North America.Overshadowed only by TenZ and friends on Sentinels, OpTic have made tremendous strides towards becoming the “GOATs” of NA. After surpassing TenZ for the best ever international performance (statwise), yay leaves only one roadblock in OpTic’s way: winning two titles. Although Sentinels first title win was in an NA-exclusive tournament, VCT 2021: NA Stage 1 Masters was a legitimate major title. Now just two matches away from an international title, the legacy of OpTic remains in the hands of some of the best to ever do it.DRXWhile Korea has been largely silent in the VALORANT scene, DRX has always been the team making noise. Just this year, DRX made it out of all three group stages without dropping a single match. Unfortunately, they had never made it past the Lower Bracket Quarterfinals after being relegated to the lower bracket by OpTic twice.This time around, DRX did not have to face OpTic. While they still lost the Upper Bracket Semi Finals match, they made history by becoming the first Korean team to make the top four at a major. At some point, however, they will have to face OpTic if they hope to claim the world title.If they manage to defeat OpTic and go on to win it all, DRX will become the first Korean team to ever win a world title. More importantly, a win in Istanbul would allow DRX to bring Korea its first ever title. North America and EMEA are the only two regions to ever hold a title, major and world alike. Winning Champions would allow DRX to bring Korea its first ever major and world title at the same time.LOUDLast, but certainly not least is LOUD. As the only Brazilian team to make any significant international presence this year, LOUD is looking to earn Brazil its first ever title. Similar to DRX and Korea, Brazil has never won a major or world title. Although Brazil and South America are rarely brought up as title-contenders, LOUD has gotten closer to a title than any other team outside of those in EMEA and NA. As the runners up to OpTic’s win at Masters Reykjavík, LOUD are one of the strongest teams in the tournament.It is worth noting, however, that they have been consistently bested by OpTic on the international stage. Meeting four times this year alone, OpTic has bested LOUD three of those four times. A win in Istanbul would be important not only for national pride, but also for their rivalry with OpTic.Like with DRX, OpTic has consistently been the Upper Bracket menace that puts LOUD on a crash course to elimination. Even in their group stage elimination in Copenhagen, it was OpTic that sent them packing in the Elimination Match.

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Team Liquid’s 2023 LCS Lineup: CoreJJ and Hans sama Out?

It is no secret that Team Liquid’s $8,000,000 roster was a massive flop. The team, consisting of some of the best European and North American players to ever play, was built around dominating North America and making a Worlds run for the record books.Unfortunately, those aspirations were far from achieved. Coming in third place behind 100 Thieves and the 2022 Spring Champions Evil Geniuses in the Spring Playoffs, the star-studded lineup of Bwipo; Santorin; Bjergsen; Hans sama; and CoreJJ fell far below expectations.While the team was playing their first ever split together, the expectations on their shoulders outweighed any claims citing a lack of team chemistry. Individually, the roster boasted some of the best Western players to ever compete, and even included World Champion support CoreJJ.Needless to say, Team Liquid investors and fans were not happy with their Spring performance. Looking to rebound in Summer, the NA Superteam fell even further below their Spring performance, and finished in fourth place. With a 3-2 loss to Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid was eliminated from the playoffs and lost their final chance at making Worlds. Left disappointed and unfulfilled, Team Liquid CEO Steve Arhancet decided that it was time to hang up the hat.On September 12th, the official Team Liquid League of Legends Twitter account posted a personal message from Steve regarding the team’s outlook in 2022 and perspective on the future. While the majority of the video discussed the shortcomings of this year’s roster, Steve did mention one important thing about Team Liquid in 2023. Although he did not go into great detail, he confirmed that the organization’s 2023 League of Legends roster would “be different.”On the Chopping Block: Hans samaWith that news fresh off the press, it appears that the community-renowned investigative journalist LEC_Wooloo has word on the first roster change for 2023. Although no official statement has been made on behalf of Team Liquid or Hans sama, it appears that the former Rogue ADC will be returning to Europe.LEC_Wooloo further states that Karmine Corp (KCorp), a member of the LFL—a league below the LEC—has already made him an offer to join their roster. Their current ADC and LEC legend, Rekkles is reportedly looking to rejoin the LEC in light of the news of his replacement. Although the LFL is a step down from Hans sama’s former glory days on Rogue in the LEC, Team Liquid’s underperformance has done major damage to the reputation of all of their players’ careers, and an opportunity anywhere in Europe is a major step towards recovering his reputation.Furthermore, if Rekkles does manage to land a starting spot on an LEC team in 2023, it would suggest that KCorp is the best place to be for an ADC looking to make his way back into the biggest stage in Europe.Is CoreJJ’s Time in the LCS Up?In his Twitter update video, Steve went on to suggest that a rebuild in 2023 would include “the opportunity to build players using the Team Liquid infrastructure, rather than this concept of building superteams.” Although he was not particularly specific, it is evident that Steve is referring to Team Liquid Academy (TLA). TLA, who won both the LCS Proving Grounds Spring and Summer Playoffs with the same roster, has clearly proven that its players are LCS ready.Once again, Team Liquid has not made any public statements about their 2023 roster moves; however, investigative journalists at GameHaus have stated that TLA standouts Yeon and Eyla will be promoted from the Academy team to the main roster. This news, while significant, should be taken with a grain of salt. GameHaus is not a widely-known or credited source for behind-the-scenes information.Despite this, the promotion of these two young Academy stars would correlate well to Steve’s statement about utilizing the Team Liquid infrastructure. It does, however, have one major implication: CoreJJ is out.CoreJJ has been the centerpiece of Team Liquid’s rosters since 2018. If Eyla and Yeon are promoted to the main roster, Eyla would take CoreJJ’s spot as they are both support players. With CoreJJ being such an integral part of Team Liquid in the past, his removal from the team would be blasphemous.

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All of the Groups for the Group Stage and Play-In Stage of the 2022 League of Legends World Championships

Immediately following the 2022 League of Legends Championship, Riot Games announced the Play-In and Group Stage groupings for the 2022 World Championship. Determined via a lottery-style drawing at the annual Worlds Draw Show, this year’s groups definitely will not disappoint.Play-In GroupsThe preliminary event, which kicks off on September 29th in Mexico City, Mexico, will determine which four of the twelve lowest seeded teams at the event will qualify for the main event (the Group Stage). Called the Play-In stage, this event is identical to the play-ins seen in traditional sports. It is designed to weed out the weakest teams and produce teams that will make the Group Stage much more competitive.This year, the three pools used to create the groups were as follows:Pool 1LPL4: Royal Never Give Up (RNG)LCK4: DRXLEC3: FnaticPCS2: Beyond GamingPool 2LEC4: MAD LionsLCS3: Evil GeniusesVCS2: Saigon BuffaloLJL1: DetonatioN FocusMePool 3LCO1: Chiefs Esports ClubTCL1: Istanbul WildcatsLLA1: IsurusCBLOL1: LOUDUsing these pools, the teams were distributed into one of two groups: Group A and Group B. The teams from the first pool were drawn first. The odd-numbered teams were placed into Group A, and the even-numbered teams were placed into Group B. This process was repeated with Pool 2 and Pool 3 until every team had been assigned a Group.Because the LEC3 and LEC4 teams had been drawn into the same group, MAD Lions—the second of the two to be drawn—was automatically reassigned to the opposite group as Fnatic (Group B) as teams from the same region cannot be placed into the same group.The groupings determined from the draw were as follows:Group AFnaticBeyond GamingDetonatioN FocusMeEvil GeniusesLOUDChiefs Esports ClubGroup BDRXRNGSaigon BuffaloMAD LionsIstanbul WildcatsIsurusCurrent community predictions favor Fnatic, RNG, DRX, and MAD Lions to make it out of the Play-In Stage based on the strength of their regions relative to the rest of the teams.Group Stage GroupsThe main event, which kicks off on October 7th following the conclusion of the Play-In Stage, will take place in three different cities. The Group Stage and Quarterfinals will be held in New York, New York at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, The Semifinals will be held in Atlanta, Georgia at the State Farm Arena: the home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. And the Finals will be held in San Francisco, California at the Chase Center: home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.This year, the three pools used to create the groups were as follows:Pool 1LPL1: Jingdong Gaming/JDG Intel Esports Club/JD Gaming (JDG)LCK1: Gen.GLEC1: RogueLCS1: Cloud9 (C9)Pool 2LPL2: Top EsportsLCK2: T1LEC2: G2 Esports (G2)PCS1: CTBC Flying Oyster (CFO)Pool 3LPL3: EDward Gaming (EDG)LCK3: Damwon Gaming KIA (DWG KIA)LCS2: 100 ThievesVCS1: GAM EsportsDrawn in the same style as the Play-In Stage, these twelve teams were put into four groups of four. While there are 16 total slots and only twelve teams to fill them, each group retains a vacancy for one of the four teams that qualify from Play-Ins. These vacancies will not be filled until the conclusion of play-ins and still follow the same regional rules as the play-ins with the exception of LEC3 and LEC4. If both MAD Lions and Fnatic qualify, one of them is allowed to be placed in the same group as another LEC team.The groupings determined from the draw were as follows:Group ACloud9T1EDGTBD *MAD Lions or FnaticGroup BJDGG2DWG KIATBD *MAD Lions or FnaticGroup CRogueTop EsportsGAM EsportsTBD *DRXGroup DGen.GCFO100 ThievesTBD *RNGAlthough the Play-Ins are by no means guaranteed to go as the asterisks suggest, these teams are considered the strongest of the twelve Play-Ins teams. The reason RNG and DRX and guaranteed Groups D and C, respectively, is because those are the only groups without an LPL or LCK team. Because of the groupings rules for teams of the same region, these are the only available groups for these two teams to go to.MAD Lions and Fnatic, on the other hand, can go into either Group A or B. While Group B contains a LEC team already (G2), the same-region rule will not apply to one of MAD Lions or Fnatic. The team that it does apply to will go to Group A. Similarly, if Evil Geniuses make it out of Play-Ins over MAD Lions or Fnatic, they will go to Group B, and the LEC team will go to Group A.

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