Updated on August 31, 4:07 p.m. (GMT+8): Added The Guard’s response to the Valorant Esports NA announcement.
The Guard, the North American team that won the VCT Ascension 2023 tournament in São Paulo, Brazil, will not be part of the VCT Americas League 2024 season.
Riot Games announced that no team will be promoted to VCT Americas, and the league will field the same 10 partnered teams for the upcoming season.
“After several months and rounds of communication with The Guard, the organization has failed to meet the deadline to agree to the Team Participation Agreement for VCT Americas,” said Riot Games in a competition update shared on August 29.
VCL Ascension 2023 winner The Guard will not be part of the Americas League 2024
The North American organization battled through the Valorant Challengers League (VCL) this year and earned the promotion slot to advance to the Americas League, the tier 1 scene of Valorant esports. They finished second in the VCL NA Split 1, third in the VCL Mid-Season Face-Off, and second in the VCL NA Split 2, earning them a spot in the Ascension Americas tournament in Brazil.
The Guard finished with a 4-0 record in the Ascensions Americas group stage, earning them an upper-bracket semifinal berth. In the playoffs, they defeated M80 2-0 and The Union 2-1 to make it into the grand final. The Americas League 2024 slot was eventually won by The Guard when they defeated M80 3-1 in the grand final.
Despite their incredible year in the Challengers League, The Guard will not be playing in the VCT next year.
Earlier this year, the Guard went through significant restructuring. On February 23, there were reports of abrupt employee layoffs within the organization.
According to The Guard’s former producer, Hunter Grooms, 29 employees across various sectors from their marketing, design, talent, and content teams were blindsided by mass layoffs.
At the time, The Guard kept only a few staff members, along with its Valorant, Call of Duty, and Overwatch League teams. The esports organization is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. The same holding company controls over five professional sports franchises, including the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, and the Arsenal Football Club.
Since the massive layoffs, there have been reports about Kroenke Sports & Entertainment wanting to sell their esports franchise slots moving forward.
There is still no word from The Guard or Kroenke Sports & Entertainment regarding their future plans for their VCL-winning Valorant roster.
The Guard Valorant roster
- Trent “trent” Cairns
- Michael “neT” Bernet
- Jacob “valyn” Batio
- Ian “tex” Botsch
- Michael “neT” Bernet
- Josh “JoshRT” Lee (coach)
The NA esports organization responded to Riot Games’ announcement and confirmed that they will not compete as a guest team in the VCT partnership program for the 2024 season.
“We are disappointed to arrive at this outcome unexpectedly, but moving forward, we are committed to supporting our competitive team in their transition as they work for new opportunities,” said the organization. “Our players have represented The Guard with pride for the past two years, working tirelessly to earn their championship title. We are confident they will do the same for whichever team they join next.”