Here is everything you need to know about the VCT Ascension winners who will compete in Tier 1 leagues for the next two years
From Challengers Qualifiers in January 2022 to the end of VCT Ascension in July 2023, hundreds of teams all around the world participated in the journey to become tier 1 contenders of VALORANT, and only three succeeded. The Guard, Gentle Mates and BLEED, among these VCT Ascension champions, you’re most likely familiar with the North American roster. If you’re eager to learn more about all of them, we’ll go through each team’s history, their Challengers run, and everything else there is to cover. Let’s learn the tales of the Ascension Americas, EMEA and Pacific winners who will join the Tier 1 competition in 2024 and 2025.
The Guard – Americas Ascension Winner
Credit: Riot Games
- Jacob “valyn” Batio (IGL)
- Michael “neT” Bernet
- Jonah “JonahP” Pulice
- Trent “trent” Cairns
- Ian “tex” Botsch
- Josh “JoshRT” Lee (Head Coach)
The Guard are not new to international stages, as they competed in Masters Reykjavik in 2022 by winning the North American Challengers with a stellar form. From the dark horse of the region, they quickly became the favorites, defeating teams like Sentinels, 100 Thieves and even the mighty OpTic Gaming in the Grand Finals.
Wondering how a few "rookies" toppled some of NA's best?
— The Guard – VCT ASCENSION CHAMPIONS 🏆 (@TheGuard) March 14, 2022
Unfortunately, at their first LAN tournament, the team got overwhelmed by the fierce talents from different regions, failing to get a single win and leaving Iceland pretty quickly.
Challengers League North America
After the off-season of 2022, Guard reminded the North American crowd that they are ready for another year of competition by winning the Ludwig and Tarik Invitational against T1, Sentinels and TSM. They were back to dominating the B-tier scene of North America with a great run in the NA Challengers League.
The Guard consistently held the second-best place in the Challengers. In the first spot was a new team consisting of talented upcoming players – M80. The Canadian roster posed a threat to Guard, as they were proving to be stronger in terms of their win rates and even defeated trent’s squad in the Grand Final.
M80 and The Guard – the Finalists of VCL NA got a ticket to VCT Ascension Americas, and securing a spot in VCT Americas 2024 and 2025 would require defeating teams from Brazil, Argentina, and others who have also shown dominance in their regional Challengers tournament.
Guard went undefeated in Ascension, winning the Grand Final against familiar faces at M80. Looking back at their 2022 run, they will be one of the favorites at VCT Americas 2024, with the potential of reaching global tournaments such as Masters and Champions.
Gentle Mates – EMEA Ascension Winner
Credit: Riot Games
- Beyazıt “beyAz” Körpe (IGL)
- Logan “logaN” Corti
- Nathan “nataNk” Bocqueho
- Jonathan “TakaS” Paupard
- Wailers “Wailers” Locart
- Kévin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans (Head Coach)
Gentle Mates were one of the newest teams in the French VALORANT scene, with Kévin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans leading the team as the head coach, who was a well-regarded IGL in Counter-Strike. In April this year, they signed the group SBG to begin the organization’s journey in VALORANT with Ex6TenZ.
Challengers League France Revolution
Before getting signed, SBG enjoyed a decent run in the Splits, with a 14-4 record in the Split 1. They faced VALIANT and Mandatory in the Playoffs, and neither of them could defeat this new emerging power.
They continued this form in Split 2 and then got signed by Gentle Mates in Week 2. With already a lot of circuit points to their name, the roster didn’t have to do too much to secure an Ascension spot. However, Gentle Mates didn’t want to let go of their incredible form, ending the Split 2 Regular Season with a 13-5 record and going unbeatable again in the Playoffs.
The French group got placed in Group B in Ascension EMEA’s Group Stage, where they secured second place with a 3-1 record, losing only to Apeks, who were on top undefeated. Going into the Playoffs, teams like Acend and Apeks were the biggest threats to Gentle Mates, and after beating Acend in the Lower Final, they were faced against Apeks in the Grand Final.
Apeks were the favorites of EMEA Ascension, and before the Grand Final, they didn’t lose a single match at the event, and it seemed like they were going to become the next EMEA League participant. Gentle Mates shocked the region by not only winning the final Bo5 but doing so in a very dominant 3-0 fashion. Logan “logaN” Corti secured the MVP with an incredible 63-33 K-D performance on Sentinels of all Agents.
Unlike The Guard, Gentle Mates will be new to tier 1 in their VCT 2024 debut, and they will be stamped with the “underdog” title among superstar squads like FNATIC, Liquid and NAVI, who have been dominating the European fields for some time now.
BLEED – Pacific Ascension Winner
Credit: Riot Games
- Ngô “crazyguy” Công Anh (IGL)
- Derrick “Deryeon” Yee
- Tyler “juicy” Aeria
- Nutchaphon “sScary” Matarat
- Marcus “Nephh” Tan
- Nikola “LEGIJA” Ninić (Head Coach)
BLEED is a Singaporean roster that started their VALORANT competition in September 2021 by acquiring UwU, a team that had been doing very well in VCT SEA’s Season 3.
Here comes the party!
Our first game will be at KJC Internationals! See you there @KJCeSports
— Bleed Esports (@ggBleed) September 30, 2021
The rest of 2021 went well for the team as they managed to win numerous off-season matches, getting ready for their turn in APAC’s Challengers event. Unfortunately, even after making the Playoffs in both seasons of the Challengers League, BLEED were stopped in their tracks by Paper Rex and XERXIA. Following their poor form in the APAC Last Chance 2022, BLEED decided to let go of their lineup.
[1/2🧵] Throughout our year-long journey in #VALORANT, we experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
With a heavy heart, we would like to announce that we will be releasing our roster effective immediately, as we continue to build for the future. pic.twitter.com/SScpdiBLpC
— Bleed Esports (@ggBleed) August 15, 2022
Challengers League Malaysia/Singapore
Fast forward to the Malaysia/Singapore Challengers League in 2023 – BLEED are equipped with a new lineup with former X10 and XERXIA member sScary in their squad. Their Split 1 looked incredible with a 6-1 run in the Group Stage and an undefeated Playoffs.
Split 2 was even better, as no team matched the power of this Singaporean squad, and they enjoyed a clean 7-0 run to the Playoffs, where they were once again unbeatable in their journey of securing an Ascension spot.
BLEED were expecting to finally meet their match at Ascension, where strong teams from the Challengers events of Japan, South Korea, Thailand and several other APAC regions were ready to become the next Asian franchised roster. With a 3-1 run in the Group Stage, the Singaporeans secured Playoffs among ten other teams.
Ascension’s Playoffs didn’t pose any challenge to this skillful group of players, moving past BOOM Esports with a 2-1 lead while playing Reyna on Pearl. Their Grand Final match was set against SCARZ, another excellent squad that made splashes in the Japanese tier 2 scene. SCARZ didn’t stand a chance in the Grand Final as BLEED secured the win in a dominant 3-0 Bo5 with sScary’s unbelievable clutches.
— VCT Pacific @ LCQ (@vctpacific) July 9, 2023
While the Pacific regions have strong global names like Paper Rex and DRX, there are many teams still trying to find their place in the tier 1 scene. Among these sort of uncertainties, BLEED are going to find a good position as a newcomer with a lot to prove in next year’s Pacific League.
Interested in these teams’ future journeys and coverage of other VALORANT events? Stay up to date with ESTNN.