When Riot’s competitive FPS VALORANT hit Beta in March, NA pro organizations jumped on the opportunity to sign talent. The investment has seemed to pay off for many orgs, including Sentinels and TSM, yet some organizations struggled with rosters they picked up, and after a few months decided to pull the plug on the rosters.
In esports, contract information isn’t very open, but I’m sure a lot of orgs have players on short contracts right now for NA Pro VALORANT as prize pools continue to climb and the idea of a LAN event is far out, so this might mitigate the damages that come from dropping players left and right.
One team in specific that struggled was 100 Thieves. Spencer “Hiko” Martin was the first signing to the team before completing the roster with a few ex-PUBG players. Keane “Valliate” Alonso, Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond, Zachary “Venerated” Roach and Alfred “Pride” Choi joined Hiko on the roster.
Here is an excerpt from ESPN’s Tyler Erzberger’s article on how the team imploded within less than two months:
“While allowing Hiko to assemble the team he thought was best to contend for championships appeared to be the earnest plan from 100T, there was one small issue: Riot Games’ Ignition Series events. Riot, in partnership with tournament organizers, was holding the first true VALORANT tournaments to kick off the game’s competitive scene. 100 Thieves had been invited to the inaugural North American tournament, T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, but that put them in a precarious position.
They could either decline and give Hiko time to build out the perfect roster — while missing out on making a first impression as other teams began monopolizing the fandom market — or compile what they believed was the best roster available to compete in the tournament. They chose the latter.”
Erzberger spoke to players and coaches around the North American scene to find out how exactly this team disappointed. The four members of the team bar Hiko even moved to Los Angeles for the team before being dropped right afterwards.
The 29-year-old Hiko remains on the roster now, with Nitro and Steel joining the roster, creating a throwback to the hey-day of North American Counter-Strike. The team looks like it could recuperate from their strange start to the game’s life.
Another team that has struggled is T1. The org was first to sign Brax to their team pre-Beta. They had some good performances to start off before having some internal struggles. These centered around Skadoodle and the duo of Crashies and Food. Crashies and Food accidentally leaked Steam messages talking about their mutual annoyance with Skadoodle.
Then, this week, Crashies and Food were dropped from the team. Regardless of their skill, the org remained loyal to Skadoodle, who has been taking a leave from the game due to his own struggles. The North American VALORANT scene is starting to go through some of the growing pains of an early esport.
The European scene, on the other hand, has been smoother. G2 picked up a solid roster this summer, as did Team Liquid and FunPlus Phoenix. All these orgs have had solid showings in EU tournaments, without the drama of the NA pro VALORANT scene.