Alex Ich & Crumbzz to form Challenger team


Veteran players Alexey "Alex Ich" Ichetovkin and Alberto "Crumbzz" Rengifo will be joining forces to form a new Challenger team. The team will be owned and financed by Chris Badawi - a former lawyer who was formerly in the running to pick up Curse Academy.

Rengifo and Ichetovkin will be joined by Maria "Yuno" Creveling in the support position. Creveling previously played for Team Roar’s bottom lane alongside Shan "Chaox" Huang.

The AD Carry and Top lane positions have yet to be finalized, but the team is currently scrimming with Ritchie "Intense" Ngo (AD Carry) and Oleksii "RF Legendary" Kuziuta (Top lane). Badawi states that the scrims so far have been going great but that the team is still considering all available options and accepting applications.

The team’s name is still to be determined, but Badawi states that they’re happy to accept name suggestions via this email:

The Score had a mini Q&A with Chris Badawi.

Q. Greetings Chris, so first off - what was the inspiration behind forming the challenger team?

I was a lawyer in New York doing patent litigation and one day I got run over by a car and almost died. Facing the end of your life is the best way to see where you want your future to go and I realised that I really didn’t want to do patent law anymore. I’ve always been a gamer at heart - not a very good one - but it has always been in my heart. So when I saw that there was a massive opportunity to create real business in this industry, I figured that I owed it to myself to try.

Q. So how did you get in touch with Crumbzz and Alex?

So initially, I was in the running to purchase Curse Academy from Steve Arhancet. I got outbid but I formed a relationship with Steve and during that process he invited me to work with Liquid for a couple of weeks and see what it is that I wanted to get out of the scene. Steve opened a lot of doors for me and really welcomed me into the scene. I made a lot of great connections and met a lot of good people. After my experience with Liquid, I decided to create my own team and we parted on good terms. Steve was really wonderful throughout the whole process.

I saw Crumbzz left Dignitas, had drinks with him and talked about what we wanted out of the future. We wanted to create something that was really player centric - less of a company and more a family, something like the early Cloud 9 - a bunch of guys doing something that they loved. The scene is so competitive and there is so much money involved that there is a lot of pressure on these guys and a lot of the times their love of the game diminishes. Overall I think it is possible for players to play this game for a living and have fun doing it.

I decided I wanted to create an atmosphere and a team where they felt like they were part of an organization - something they were proud of and were personally invested in the outcome of how the organization does and Crumbzz really liked the philosophy. So he and I together started talking about what kind of team we wanted and what kind of roster we wanted. Crumbzz suggested Alex and I talked with Alex to see if he was contracted to any team. He said he wasn’t and so we ended up getting Alex. Crumbzz and Alex are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. Any team with these two kind, professional and distinguished personalities at its core will be an absolute pleasure for all involved - not to mention Alex is a legend and Crumbzz has been in the scene from the start.

So with this philosophy in mind, I started to search for other players and found Yuno. All three of us agreed that she was a diamond in the rough. We’re now three strong and still looking to solidify the rest of the roster. We have plenty of time until the Challenger Series qualifiers.

Q. What are you looking for in those roles?

Again, with this philosophy in mind, it’s of paramount importance that they’re not just a player who talks - they’re somebody who would be your friend and you’d want to wake up and see everyday. Somebody that creates an atmosphere of joy and not tension.  Obviously, pure mechanical skill and game knowledge is a requisite.

Q. You stated that that you saw an opportunity to create real business but then you stated you wanted to create a family, do these two not clash stylistically? How do you aim to be a family and a real business?

When I was working within the LCS I noticed that there was a lot of pressure and expectations on the players and that personality seemed to be taking a backseat to skill alone. I wanted to create an environment where players felt more a part of the organization and less like an employee. My goal is to create a team where players feel valued and appreciated and I believe that the organization can be profitable with that mentality.

That isn’t to say that we won’t bench people for underperforming, but we won’t ignore their feelings either. It’s rather a place where players feel heard and have a personal stake in the success of their business. I’m planning to implement a profit sharing model.

Q. You mentioned in your previous answer that you were planning to implement a profit sharing model - could you elaborate a bit more on this and how do you plan to avoid the pitfalls that ex-Alternate had in 2013?

Its tentative and a work in progress. But ultimately I can envision a system where the players compensation grows as the organization grows.  What I believe that perhaps some in the scene do not, is that the players essentially are the organization.  I just think they should be treated as such.

In terms of avoiding pitfalls, the profit share would belong to the spot, not the player. For example. each player on the active roster is entitled to a base salary + X percent of org profits (however we decide to calculate that). So a player would have to be on the active roster to obtain a profit share

Q. Lets move on to infrastructure. What infrastructure do you plan on implementing?

Regarding staff - we’re looking at a number of different coaches. We’ve been working with different people and seeing who we work the best with. There is still a lot of time left and we believe that there are a lot of great people out there - many who are committed to other things that may become available, so we haven’t committed to any staff at the present.

In terms of facilities, we’ll get a gaming house near the Los Angeles area once we get into the Challenger Series.

Q. What is the team’s name?

We haven’t decided on a team name yet. It’s important to me that the members feel that the team is theirs - as well as the staff. Once the roster is finalized, we’ll see what the community has come up with and decide together. Alex was particularly excited about NA 5.

Q. Thanks for answering all these questions - is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to express my gratitude to Steve Arhancet for opening all these doors for me and that I couldn’t be happier to work with the people I’m working with. These are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s exciting and all very fun.


Azael on the differences between casting for Riot and Blizzard and what he does to improve his craft

William "scarra" Li 5d ago

We may be a third of the way through the season, but it's all still new for Isaac "Azael" Cummings Bentley, one of the NA LCS' newest casting voices. A former World of Warcraft pro and multi-game talent, Azael came to the broadcast team from within Riot's development team.

theScore esports' William "scarra" Li caught up with the new caster to discuss his vast history in esports, how working for Riot's production compares to other companies within the industry and what he's learned from the veterans on the NA LCS' desk.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.


Our Insomnia Picks: LCK/LPL Week 6

by 1d ago

The end of Week 5 marked the halfway point for the 2016 LPL Summer Season, and Week 6 will close the door on the first round robin of LCK Summer 2016. As both of these leagues come to a middle, the games chosen reflect continuing tests of strength for certain teams, or potential desperate measures for others as various organizations in Korea and China try to grab a stronger foothold towards the top of the standings

LCK: KT Rolster vs. Jin Air Green Wings

Last week when I chose the Jin Air Green Wings against the ROX Tigers, Jin Air were fresh off of their win against previously-undefeated SK Telecom T1. I off-handedly mentioned that MVP, not the Tigers, would be the greater challenge for Jin Air, given their penchant for winning against top-tier opponents before dropping to teams that they should easily beat.

Jin Air lost to both MVP and the Tigers last week, falling from second place to fifth in the standings. Split after split, it's always impossibly difficult to discern whether the Green Wings are a good team or not. They often have strong starts, but fall once other Korean teams surpass them or another meta shift goes through. KT Rolster are often a similar puzzle, at times looking like the best team in the world while faltering in their next series due to inexplicable drafting or a complete lack of sense in the mid-game. This past week was no different for KT, who had an excellent series against Samsung before nearly losing to last-place CJ Entus — a series they would have likely lost had it not been for a timely Go "Score" Dong-bin baron steal.

This is a litmus test for both KT and Jin Air prior to the season's halfway mark. With very little separating first from fifth, these two teams want a strong showing in their final series of the first round robin, and both have visible weaknesses that the other can exploit.

LPL: Demacia Cup Quarterfinals

LPL proper won't continue next week, but the Demacia Cup is finally kicking off. An absurd amount of games will air on two streams simultaneously as the double round robin best of one group stage decides which of eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

Following the 48-game group stage, the upper bracket will pit the top eight against one another in quarterfinals. Not all matches will be worth watching, but with the best teams in China competing, some great clashes are sure to take place on July 2 and July 3. Just how far has Snake risen with their new jungler? This may be the first chance we get to find out.

Read our news post on the tournament details, and check back for an announcement detailing the quarterfinals schedule as the group stage winds down.

LMS: Flash Wolves vs Machi E-Sports

With ahq falling on hard times, Flash Wolves continue their reign of terror undefeated at the top of the League of Legends Master Series. Yet the plucky Machi E-Sports have been making unexpected gains. With ahq falling on themselves against Flash Wolves in their earlier encounter, Machi may pose an unexpected threat.

Machi's last encounter with Flash Wolves ended with an 0-3 in the Wolves' favor, but ultimately allowed them to finish in third place in the Spring split. Taking a game off second place Jay Team, Machi have put focus on AD carry Chen "Dee" Chunti and support Tseng "Dreamer" Chienhung, well regarded in the region as a powerful support. They may well be a team capable of targeting Flash Wolves' weaknesses (namely, Hsiung "NL" Wenan).

Likely to end in another Flash Wolves victory, Machi are at least sure to win a few new fans.

Kelsey Moser and Emily Rand are staff writers for theScore esports. Neither of them are fans of sleep. You can follow Kelsey and Emily on Twitter.


Highlight: Vitality pull off the miracle hold, twice

by 3d ago

This was insane.

Team Vitality felt plenty of pressure in their second game against G2 Esports, when G2 decided to push deep and end the game. But as Vitality's towers fell, they managed to pull it together and save their Nexus with a fraction of its health remaining.

But Vitality couldn't capitalize on their defense, as G2 came back with their entire team not even three minutes later. As all of G2 converged on the Nexus, Vitality pulled off the impossible to wipe G2 and hold a second time.

Vitality would go on to win the game, in what is easily the greatest hold in the EU LCS in the 2016 Summer Split.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.


Rick Fox on building an esports empire: 'I want them to be champions'

by 5d ago

Rick Fox is no a stranger to being a champion.

Taking his talents from the hardwood to the Rift, Rick Fox is working on building an esports empire with his organization, Echo Fox.

While in Los Angeles, California, theScore esports' Lisa Doan had the chance to sit down with Rick Fox to discuss his leap into esports, how LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss inspired him to be the owner he is today and his hopes for Echo Fox.

For more video interviews and highlights, be sure to subscribe to theScore esports on YouTube.


Phoenix1 add History Teacher, Qwerm to staff

by 5d ago

Phoenix1 has added Chad “History Teacher” Smeltz as their new in-house manager and Alec “Qwerm” Warren as their head analyst. Both were members of NRG until they parted ways with the organization last week.

A release from Phoenix1 confirmed that the ex-NRG general manager would take over duties from Brendan “Saparino” Franco.

"I’m greatly looking forward to working with Phoenix1. I appreciated my time spent at NRG and the experience that I got there, and I plan on taking what I’ve learned there and in prior experiences to help make Phoenix1 the best they can be," History Teacher said.

Qwerm, who is named in the P1 release as BonQuish, will work with coach Charlie Lipsie "to prepare for weekly matches and with the players to help with their individual development."

Phoenix1 is currently 0-6 after three weeks of NA LCS competition and will face Counter Logic Gaming and NRG in Week 4.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury used a phoenix down but all it did was burn him horribly. You can find him on Twitter.

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