Alex Ich & Crumbzz to form Challenger team

Thumbnail image courtesy of LoLesports

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.

Watch: UC Irvine becomes first public university to offer LoL scholarships

by 1d ago

On Sept. 23, 2016, the University of California, Irvine, debuted their 3,500-square-foot iBUYPOWER esports arena located right in the heart of their Student Center. Equipped with 80 gaming PCs, the arena will serve as a home base for UCI’s official esports team to train, as well as the UCI gaming community. Earlier this year, UCI recruited five students based on their League of Legends abilities and academic record to play on their competitive team.

Players received scholarships to help with tuition, totalling about $15,000 and can keep any winnings earned from matches. UCI has become the first public university in North America to implement an esports scholarship program. With the program expanding, there are an additional five scholarships up for grabs.

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

Riot and CSL partner for 2017 uLoL Campus Series

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Collegiate StarLeague

Riot Games and The Collegiate StarLeague are working together for the 2017 season of CSL's collegiate level League of Legends league.

While CSL have worked with Riot in the past on the uLoL Campus Series, this will be the first season that Riot are involved as partners. Duran Parsi, CEO of the Collegiate StarLeague says, "By creating this partnership, CSL and Riot are bringing together our expertise and relationships to push collegiate eSports to the forefront of peoples’ minds."

The new season doesn't kick off until Jan. 14 2017, but registration begins in just over two weeks and will remain open until Dec. 5 2016. The league will consist of a round robin group stage, the top teams advancing to the single elimination playoff bracket followed by a LAN final.

Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.

MonteCristo not invited to cast Worlds, DoA declines to attend

Thumbnail image courtesy of Dennis Gonzales / theScore eSports

In what appears to be the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Riot Games' esports division and OGN caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, MonteCristo claims that he was deliberately excluded from the LoL World Championship casting team, which was announced Friday morning.

In an interview with ESPN's Jacob Wolf, MonteCristo said he was notified on Aug. 9 that he would not receive an invitation to the event. According to ESPN, both of MonteCristo's casting partners, Erik "DoA" Lonnquist and Chris "PapaSmithy" Smith, were invited by Riot to cast the event. PapaSmithy will attend to represent the South Korea region, but DoA said in the interview that he declined due to conflicting obligations in South Korea.

"Riot decided not to invite me to this year's League of Legends World Championship," MonteCristo told Wolf. "I'm sorry to my fans that I will miss this opportunity, but pleased to say that I have upcoming casting projects that I am very excited about for the remainder of 2016."

This will be the first time MonteCristo has not been involved with Riot's Worlds broadcast since he first appeared there in 2013. It will also be the second Riot-hosted event that he sits out this year, after he and his fellow OGN casters boycotted the Mid-Season Invitational in March. At the time, Monte, DoA and PapaSmithy issued a joint statement claiming that Riot offered sub-standard wages to cast the event.

Riot, which announced its casting lineup for Worlds on Friday morning, has not officially commented on MonteCristo's exclusion from the list. In his ESPN interview, MonteCristo gave no details about how he was notified about the decision or the motivation behind it.

However, the caster and ex-team owner has been vocally critical of Riot's esports policies since he and his former team, Renegades, were banned from the NA LCS in May. In a tweet following the ESPN report Friday, he implied that his exclusion from Worlds was related to his past conflicts with Riot's esports team.

In social media and in the press, MonteCristo has argued that Riot's decision to ban Renegades was unfair and non-transparent, claiming that the publisher did not give him an adequate opportunity to present a defense before issuing its ruling. Riot banned Renegades over its alleged connections with banned former team owner Chris Badawi, as well as alleged mistreatment of players and collusion with Team Dragon Knights.

MonteCristo, as the team's owner, was banned for one year from owning a team that participates in any Riot-sanctioned league, though the ruling stated it would not affect his casting career with OGN, which is not owned by Riot. In August, MonteCristo sold Renegades, which still operates CS:GO and Call of Duty teams, to Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko.

In his most recent comments about Riot — which were published after MonteCristo claims Riot notified him he was not invited to Worlds — the caster vehemently criticized the company and its co-founder, Marc "Tryndamere" Merrill, over the way it controls sponsorship in the LCS. Among other criticisms, he accused Riot of playing favorites with league teams and owners, comparing the company to a "f**cked up tyrant Santa Claus" that doles out rewards and punishments to teams it considers "good" or "bad."

In a tweet Friday following ESPN's report, MonteCristo said that further criticism would be forthcoming. "Now that I have zero business ties to Riot, I will be releasing many vlogs on my experiences with the company when I get back from vacation," he said.

Though MonteCristo and DoA's fans will not get a chance to see them at Worlds, the two are set to cast OGN's new $170,000 Overwatch league, Overwatch APEX, beginning in October. They will also continue to broadcast OGN's coverage of League Champions Korea in 2017.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

Regional loyalty in League of Legends esports analysis

by 4d ago

theScore esports' Kelsey Moser discusses the idea of bias and regional loyalty when analysts who follow a particular region comment on international matchups. What value does the scene gain from diversification and is "bias" always detrimental?

Kelsey Moser is a feature writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

The History of the World Championship

Tim "Magic" Sevenhuysen

In the five years since its first World Championship, League of Legends has gone from a budding game to an esports juggernaut known the world over. What started out as a small, $100,000 event, has ballooned into one of the most prestigious, popular tournaments in all of esports.

With this year's World Championship promising to be one of the best yet, we thought it was only right to look back on the previous iterations of the tournament and take a look at the road that brought us to now.

Here is a history of the World Championship.

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