Thu. May 26th, 2022

This week, eight NA teams will compete in the VCT 2021 Last Chance Qualifier with a spot at Champions on the line. However, it was supposed to be 10 while Oceania joined their a shot in 2021, and now that the region has been snubbed due to a Riot admin error, players are worried about the future.

It was called the VCT 2021 Last Chance Qualifier for North America and Oceania, but the last two words of this title have been scrubbed ahead of the event.

The two Oceanic representatives in the ORDER and Chiefs Esports Club missed a shot at going to the Champions due to travel arrangements falling through. After working for nine months for a shot to play internationally, a full year of work was removed.

For ORDER captain Tyler “Tucks” Reilly, it was heartbreaking.

“GoMeZ [ORDER’s Chief Esports Officer] said ‘do not fly’ because some of us had to travel that day because [Riot] decided it was too hard for us to go and they will not send us, ”he said.

“I remember reading the message from Texta [Tucks’ long-time teammate] in our group chat says we do not go. Do you know the times when your heart just falls? Do you know what that message is about and there is nothing you can do to help it? It was really discouraging. ”

While Riot’s statement claimed that “complex factors” prevented the teams from flying abroad, sources close to the situation have confirmed with Dexerto that Riot left the process of getting Oceanic players to NA at the last minute, leading to a “too little, too late” “scenario.

Teams were contacted about flights to North America ahead of the OCE Championship, giving Riot about 6-8 weeks to process it all — even if they had not qualified. This is a shorter time frame than Oceanic org PEACE was given to the League of Legends World Championship, where teams submitted paperwork three months before qualifying.

But in the week leading up to the cancellation, Riot administrators had failed to secure exit exemptions for Australian players, despite ORDER and Chiefs telling Riot about their importance.

All people leaving Australia must currently apply for exemption from exit, regardless of destination, due to the global health situation.

In addition, not all flights had been handled properly, leading to delays in obtaining player visas.

Some players had already left their home states to start the 24-hour journey to America before the news fell.

Sources claimed that Riot handled the process internally with the Valorant esports team, but failed to submit the correct paperwork on time due to lack of experience.

This is despite the fact that the League of Legends team has only undergone a similar process for Peace only weeks earlier.

“The reason we were told was that Riot could not secure our exceptions [to leave Australia] and our flights from America could not be booked until November 15, so Riot would have had to put us up in America for a month, which would have been expensive, ”Tucks said.

Chiefs and ORDER issue a joint statement after the decision and called it a “preventable scenario”.

The two teams missing out on LCQ are a problem.

However, it is part of a broader problem within Valorant esports that shows how smaller regions are struggling to get recognition and help from Riot to actively pursue international opportunities fairly.

Nine months of work without reward

Dion ‘Komodo’ Pirotta is an Australian-based Valorant caster that has helped grow the scene since the game’s launch in 2020.

Seeing the news of Oceania’s snubbing from Champions LCQ made him annoyed. Not just because it’s months of work going down the drain, but because other Oceanic sports professionals have been allowed to travel.

“We have seen Riot be able to get the League of Legends people over [to Iceland], so it’s even more gut-wrencing that they’ve thrown OCE and Valorant aside in that regard, ”he said.

“Seeing Renegades fly over to Stockholm [for the Major] and FURY PUBG goes to Korea [for PGC], there is evidence that the government is willing to let players go abroad for esports.

“Someone as big as Riot who could revive a scene that has been hit hard over the last 18 months so that they just could not follow what should have been a clear process ⁠— they have lost the faith of many people on them. ”

INS Renegades plays CS: GO at IEM Köln 2021
Stephanie Lieske for ESL

Renegades’ CS: GO team has been able to travel from Australia to Stockholm Major after qualifying in early October.

In 2021, Valorant teams in Oceania played in the Valorant Oceania Tour. Across three stages, they earned points for qualifying for a top-eight championship at the end of the year. Then only the top two teams would have a chance to compete in the NA LCQ ahead of Champions.

“This was our only international opportunity. We knew we were working towards this one thing all year long. We would not get other options, so you commit to it, and you get so excited when you qualify, ”Tucks said.

“Since we qualified, we have practiced a lot and seen the other teams. We prepared mentally, so that it was then closed overnight makes it actually so painful. ”

A dying scene just two years later

The effects of the LCQ cancellation have begun to resonate in Oceania. A handful of players on the top 8 teams have already announced their pension due to Riot’s handling of the region.

“I think there will be some people who have put all this into work and maybe get a chance to explore in another game. We can see people returning to Counter-Strike now that the CS trail is open again, ”Komodo said.

“OCE as a whole is still hard hit with esports as a whole umbrella, but we are starting to see teams go abroad. Valorant players may see it as an opportunity to play something they feel they can be competitive in and they can do more in.

“People will drop out and call it quits, not because they do not like the game, solely because Riot is unable to deliver.”

Tucks, a former CS: GO pro in Oceania, is not necessarily considering leaving Valorant, but can not blame players who do not see a future after the LCQ debacle.

“CS are not in a much better shape, they have more international options and it could be different if I went back, but Renegades are winning everything at the moment and it has been like that for the last four years,” he said.

“It depends on what happens in 2022 and what kind of season they give us. If it’s the same as this year, then I see a lot of people leave because you’re hoping for something bigger and better. ”

There are fears that without a clearer picture or more options in 2022, the stage will disappear without ever having a chance to prove itself.

In the current format, it will be two and a half years after Valorant’s release that Oceania actually gets a chance to play internationally – unless the Soniqs squad that moved to Pennsylvania from Australia makes it big.

“When Valorant was first announced and their race was announced with VCT, the question was always ‘where does OCE come in,'” Komodo said.

“We did not get a path to the Challengers or Masters events, and we get one place for the Champions, where we have to go through these NA teams that have already had those chances.

“The way things have been arranged in our region from the start was not for a design I was familiar with.”

Appreciate the banner in the Oceania Tour
Riot Games

Oceanic players are calling for a recast to the Valorant esports ecosystem to involve smaller regions.

How Riot can win back the Valorant community

However, there is still hope for Oceanic Valorant. Komodo, Tucks and the rest of the scene want it to succeed and thrive. They will write the underdog stories that Pentanet.GG did on the League’s Intermediate International, MSI, earlier this year.

It starts with a strong 2022 with more international opportunities – or even giving Oceania a direct place in the Champions League for this year.

“I still believe we’ll get more international roads, and I do believe that since Valorant, as a game will grow much bigger around the world and in Oceania, there just needs to be more roads in place,” Tucks explained .

“You need the international routes after Phases 1 and 2 to keep boosting you and keep the support in the region going and get new players interested.

“I would love to see more open communication between the organizations and Riot [too]. You want the open communication about what they do to help us build our region and what we can do to help – a proper partnership. ”

In a statement to Dexerto, Riot said: “Valorant NA / OCE Esports remains committed to working closely with its partners to ensure a smooth process across all future competitions.”

They also promised to “work to bring this exciting Valorant region back to future events.”

Dexerto can confirm a call between Riot and some Oceanic teams has taken place, but no decisions have been made about the 2022 event for the region.

Skye and Valorant
Riot Games

Riot has said they are committed to developing Oceanic Valorant despite the 2021 setback.

“Players want clearer paths into a Worlds-type event, whether it’s through Asia or a direct slot from the OCE. That would be the biggest thing, ”Komodo said.

“You already have all these other games that show different ways in which OCE can be present at these big events without having to jump through a massive amount of hangers to first try to qualify through another region’s event to get to the great. “

The Valorant dream is still alive for many in Oceania, but time is ticking to get Australia started with the rest of the world and give them equal terms.

“Maybe when I was younger, I didn’t care if your countrymen went to an international event and did well because, as a competitor, I always wanted to be on that stage,” Tucks said.

“Now my views have changed so much. I want every Oceanic team to go abroad and do it really well because it helps build our region.

“Building our region to a point where all our players are paid and we can compete full time is the best thing for everyone involved.”

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