Alex Ich & Crumbzz to form Challenger team

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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.

Sandbox mode on the horizon: Riot Games begins work on "single-player training mode"

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Riot Games have begun work on the much requested in-game practice tools, or sandbox mode, for League of Legends, starting with a "single-player training mode," according to a joint blog post from Andrew “Riot Aeon” Brownell and Rowan “L4T3NCY” Parker posted on Friday.

Riot's proposed practice tool will allow players to have infinite gold, reset their cooldowns, lock their level and freeze minion spawns. A full feature list is still in the works, but they have stated that they're "currently not looking to develop a multiplayer training tool for organized team drills or pro-play specifically.

"Once we get the first version out, we’ll pay close attention to see if we missed anything in terms of how to become better by yourself," Aeon and L4T3NCY said in their blog post.

The news comes a year after Riot's blog post where they stated, "we never want to see a day when a player wants to improve at League and their first obligation is to hop into a Sandbox." In Riot's recent blog post, they admit that their initial thoughts were not in line with the rest of the community.

"A year ago, we shot ourselves in the foot with our first attempt at Riot Pls," Riot Aeon and L4T3NCY said in their blog post. "Back then we said that a practice tool — an environment where you could train solo, without restraints — wasn’t something we wanted to do. You disagreed, and we heard you."

No timeline is stated for the release of Riot's Practice Tool, but further updates are promised throughout the 2017 pre-season.

Here are some initial community reactions:

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev. You can follow him on Twitter.

YellOwStaR to manage Paris Saint-Germain esports

by 2d ago
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Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim will head up Paris Saint-Germain's new esports division following his retirement from professional League of Legends earlier this week.

PSG announced their esports team in a live stream on Thursday with the acquisition of Team Huma's spot in the 2017 European Challenger Series Spring Split. Huma disbanded in August amidst allegations that team owner Behdad Jaafarian was unable to pay players and team staff on time. Jaafarian then put the team's EU CS spot up for sale.

RELATED: YellOwStaR retires from professional League of Legends

In his role as the head of the esports division, YellOwStaR will be in charge of scouting new players for PSG's League of Legends roster, and will be living with them in their gaming house in Berlin. He will not be the team's coach or an active player.

YellOwStaR will have a clean slate to work with in building the new team, since Huma did not have any players signed when their spot was purchased. YellOwStaR said in the press conference that having the team house in Berlin will help the fledging Challenger squad by letting them scrim with EU LCS teams.

"The main objective of 2017 will be go to the LCS, the first League of Legends division," he said.

YellOwStaR is considered one of the best European League of Legends players of all time, as well as one of the most accomplished Western LoL players in the game's history. YellOwStaR has participated in five World Championships with three different teams, and has qualified for seven LCS finals across two regions — winning five of them — in his six-year career.

Paris Saint-Germain is a French soccer club that fields a roster in Ligue 1, the highest tier of French professional soccer. The organization was founded in 1970 and holds a total of 31 titles, including six domestic Ligue 1 titles as well as two European titles, the 1995-1996 UEFA Cup Winner's Cup and the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

During the press conference, PSG also announced they were signing two-time FIFA world champion August "Agge" Rosenmeier and former Epsilon FIFA player Lucas "Daxe" Cuillerier.

"It's a huge difference because I really feel that I get recognized," Agge said at the conference. "I'm very proud and honored to be a part of PSG. It's a huge huge relief for me, and I'm very happy. I will do my best, of course."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Watch: H2K turn around the Ashe/Miss Fortune combo

by 6h ago
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Samsung Galaxy and H2k-Gaming were neck and neck through the first game in the semifinals, with SSG taking a slight gold lead. Hoping to extend their lead, Ruler's Ashe and Corejj's Miss Fortune combined their ultimates to annihilate Vander in the mid lane — a combo that ran rampant in yesterday's semifinal. But rather than retreat, H2K pressed forward and caught SSG off guard.

With the well-timed flank from Odoamne's Kennen, H2K secured a four for two trade that shifted momentum in their favor.

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

Sakuya on returning to competitive LoL and entering the Latin American scene

by 13h ago
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While Maria “Sakuya” Creveling's decision to join Chilean LoL team Kaos Latin Gamers may have taken fans by surprise, the former Renegades player told Slingshot esports' Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber that she's always wanted to compete in South America.

Sakuya, formerly known as Remilia, made waves when she became the first female LoL player to compete in the NA LCS. She joined Renegades as their support player, but stepped down three weeks into the 2016 NA LCS Spring Split due to anxiety issues. She was then replaced on the team by Nicholas “Hakuho” Surgent and subsequently took a break from the competitive scene.

"I wanted to get away from what people associated my old name with. I’ve grown a whole lot since I left the LCS and I’m pretty much a different person now," Sakuya told Slingshot esports. "It’s just something I love doing and I knew I wanted to continue [playing competitively] after I solved a lot of my personal issues."

Sakuya attributed her relationship with her partner Revy as a primary factor in wanting to compete out of South America instead of returning to the NA CS.

"I wanted to play closer to Revy, which is why I turned down pretty decent NA CS offers. I could have stayed and made more in NA but it’s just not where my heart was," she said. "Originally I wanted to find a team in Brazil, but there weren’t any orgs I trusted, or it was for a position (sub, analyst, etc.) that I didn’t feel comfortable taking."

The support player then goes on to describe how comfortable she is with her new organization and that despite the pay drop, she feels confident in her decision.

"The actual org is amazing. The pay is okay (it’s not NA ofc), and the people feel like family. All of my teammates are people I could hang out with outside of League, which is what really draws me to a team," she said. "I feel confident I made the right choice."

The interview wraps up with her input on where the Latin American/Brazilian LoL scenes lie in relation to the more dominant regions, saying she wants to help her team "solidify the basics of macro play."

"Standard laning has put wildcard regions on equal footing with some of the bigger regions," Sakuya said. "A lot of past defeats for wildcard were at the hands of macro based snowballing, even in old worlds you could see teams like paiN holding their own in standard laning. Now that people are getting better mechanically in these smaller regions, they can compete with major ones.

"You see Albus Nox outplaying G2 and CLG, INTZ taking a game from EDG. The mechanics are there and the macro is lagging behind just a little. I hope I can help the LATAM scene solidify the basics of macro play, which will help our chances at IWC."

Olivia Da Silva is a news editor at theScore esports. She likes piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and dank no-scopes. You're eligible for free high fives if you follow her on Twitter.

Worlds Semifinals Play and Misplay of the Day

theScore esports staff 15h ago

It was a clash of titans at Madison Square Garden last night, as the ROX Tigers took on SK Telecom T1 in the 2016 League of Legends World Championship semifinals. The back and forth matches went all the way, with Faker and crew showing why they deserve to be tournament favorites. Both teams had moments of sheer brilliance, and theScore esports has selected their biggest play and saddest misplay of the day.

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

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