The Unravelling of Evil Geniuses: How FlyQuest almost entered the VCT Americas.






06/02/2024 - 12'

The team's celebrations were short-lived...

From more inconsequential changes such as Erick "aspas" Santos’ departure from LOUD, or speculations regarding the new home of Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker, to the major restructurations of KOI, Heretics, and Karmine Corp, the 2024 off-season has brought major shake-ups on the North American esports landscape, some of which seeped beyond the VALORANT Champions Tour.

While these moves would have proved to be major newsline in an ordinary off-season, they were all surpassed by two major events: The surprising decay of Evil Geniuses, and the sudden disappearance of The Guard. What were initially two of the most looked upon rosters of the North American scene would soon meet their demise in an astonishing twist of fates.

Through this piece, Sheep Esports now hopes to shed light on these events and explain the intricacies and reasons surrounding these moves.

EG, posing after winning the VALORANT Champions 2023.
EG, posing after winning the VALORANT Champions 2023.

Part 1: The Guard

On the night of Sunday, July 9th 2023, after a year-long struggle in the North American VALORANT Challengers League, 5 talented prospects would finally take down their long-time nemesis, M80. Throughout the year, the team faltered against their opponents on multiple occasions, struggling to assert themselves. Finally, through blood, sweat, and tears, The Guard had managed to ascend to the VCT 2024-2025.

Unfortunately, only a month later, the team’s dreams would come crashing down. In a baffling turn of events, the organization had failed to meet deadlines to submit required paperwork to compete in the league, leading to its disqualification from the VCT. Despite uproar in the community, Riot Games decided to operate its league with 10 teams in 2024, canceling the results of the ascension tournament.

Thankfully, this decision would soon be overturned. While The Guard would be unable to compete, the league would facilitate finding a new home for the team’s victorious players, beginning a bidding war to see which organization would be able to secure a spot in the VCT. Prior to negotiations starting, Riot Games made one point clear, whoever was to enter the league would have to retain at least 3 players from the former The Guard roster within its core.

Bidding would evolve at a tremendous speed, as within just a few days, on September 8th, the team would have already found a home for the 2024 season. From the start, two clear candidates stood out: G2 Esports, and FlyQuest. While the latter put great efforts into entering the league and went as far as securing facilities and offices for their potential new roster, they would unfortunately be met with disappointment as G2 Esports eventually secured verbal agreements with four of The Guard’s players, pending Riot approval. What would happen to FlyQuest?...

Posing on-stage after their final victory.
Posing on-stage after their final victory.

Part 2: Budget Cuts at Evil Geniuses

In a similar fashion to The Guard, the celebrations of Evil Geniuses after winning the VALORANT Champions 2023 tournament were short-lived. On September 11th, the organization began taking sweeping decisions. Despite having just won the biggest tournament that the VALORANT esports scene had to offer, the team would communicate privately to its players that they would undergo drastic salary cuts amounting to one-third of their pre-Championship earnings.

Sources also confirmed that any player declining this pay cut could risk a full contractual termination, with only one month of severance pay. But that wasn’t all; the organization would be going to enforce steep buyout fees on all its players, which could force said players to agree to their salary cuts and remain within the organization if they could not find a suitable party wanting to pay out those fees.

As the off-season unfolded, NRG would make a first move by offering a $100,000 buyout for Ethan "Ethan" Arnold and Max "Demon1" Mazanov, an offer that Evil Geniuses would reject. This was previously reported by Richard Lewis. With negotiations meeting an impasse, the future of the reigning champions remained uncertain.

It would only be somewhere between November 13 and November 17 that things would change within the organization. With controversies along with an ongoing investigation plaguing EG in the LCS, the team would decide to take on an opportunity to be bought out of the North American League of Legends franchised competition. As was previously reported, this offer was made to all LCS teams and, per sources, was confirmed to be around $6,000,000.

This move would act as the first domino which would eventually lead to Evil Geniuses wishing to put an end to its esports operations entirely, including ceasing its participation in the VCT.

FlyQuest, competing in the LCS.
FlyQuest, competing in the LCS.

Part 3: FlyQuest enters the picture

Following their decision, the organization would soon begin talks with different parties, notably FlyQuest. Negotiating over several months, the organization hoped to acquire not only EG’s spot, but also its entire roster.

Unfortunately for both parties, things would prove much more complicated than originally anticipated. Whereas, in League of Legends, franchise league owners have spent millions to own and be able to later potentially resell their assets, teams in VALORANT are each given four-year contracts to receive temporary slots in the VCT, which remain owned entirely by Riot Games. Despite this, Evil Geniuses and FlyQuest remained hopeful that, following G2 Esports’ acquisition of The Guard, their case would also meet an approval from Riot Games.

Continuing to block its players’ negotiations, EG began working towards this deal. Teams such as NRG, Leviatán, or 100 Thieves, would all show interest in the reigning champions around this time, despite meeting complications.

Per sources close to Sheep Esports, the two parties would soon reach an agreement, turning towards Riot for a final approval at the time. Thinking that the deal would be approved, FlyQuest would already begin preparations around this time, securing facilities and offices in order to welcome their newly-yet-to-be-signed roster.

Ultimately, it would come as a shock to both parties to see that Riot Games would decide to block this move, essentially forcing Evil Geniuses to continue fielding a roster in the VALORANT Champions Tour, and to continue its esports operations.

As was individually reported, most players from the reigning champions’ roster have now joined new teams, with the exception of Alexander "jawgemo" Mor, who opted to remain with Evil Geniuses.

Some questions still remain surrounding this situation. Recently, Wolves Esports, an organization tightly linked to EG, has been accepted in the VCT China. The organization is currently owned by the Fosun Sports Group, an investment group which also concluded a partnership with Evil Geniuses, obtaining a stake in them. There are currently no statements regarding the potential dissociation or conflict of interest resulting from this situation.

In a recent example, according to sources close to Sheep Esports, an organization sponsored by “Axiomatic” reached an agreement in late 2022 to acquire Astralis’ spot in the LEC last year. This move was eventually rejected due to Axiomatic’s existing partnership with Team Liquid.

Upon reaching out, Riot Games, Evil Geniuses, and FlyQuest, opted not to comment on the story.

- Alejandro "Anonimotum" Gomis -

- Armand Luque -