As The Esports Advocate reported exclusively in February, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment-owned esports organization The Guard is continuing to wind down its esports operations. In February, the company fielded teams in Apex Legends, Valorant, Call of Duty League, and Overwatch League. In March the organization let its Apex Legends team go, exiting after around seven months in the competitive scene. Now it looks like its Valorant team is about to sunset as well.
In a post from the Valorant Champions Tour on social media, Riot Games’ official league said that The Guard would not be included in VCT Americas in 2024:
“After several months and rounds of communication with The Guard, the organization has failed to meet the deadline to agree to the Team Participation Agreement for VCT Americas.
“As a result, The guard will not be participating in the 2024 VCT Americas League. No team will be promoted to VCT Americas and the league will field 10 teams for the upcoming season.”
On a related note, Twitch streamer and Disguised team owner Disguised Toast (Jeremy Wang) has offered to take over the team: “I might be broke but i’d sign these players if it means them getting to play in franchising and keep the spot they earned,” he wrote on twitter.
As news of this rejection from Riot was published on social media, players also began posting publicly that they have been let go by the organization, seemingly learning about their future from Riot’s post, and not necessarily management, first. Additional reporting also claims that all players and coaches are being let go without a buyout of their contracts, but that the organization will “likely” give players their “termination buyouts to ensure they can be signed to another organization without difficulty,” according to Win.gg.
As we reported in February, a majority of the staff at The Guard were laid off, leaving only a skeleton crew and staff associated with its Overwatch League team L.A. Gladiators, Call of Duty League team L.A. Guerrillas, an Apex Legends team, and a Valorant roster. Sources told TEA in February that Kroenke Sports & Entertainment wanted out of the esports scene and planned to unload its CDL and OWL teams if it could find buyers when both league seasons were over. With Activision Blizzard offering a $6M USD payout to teams that want to leave OWL at the end of this year, all that really remains is for The Guard to unload its CDL franchise.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment remains a major player in the world of professional sports: it owns the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Arsenal F.C., Arsenal W.F.C., and operates multiple venues including SoFi Stadium, YouTube Theater, Emirates Stadium, Arsenal Training Centre, Highbury Square, Ball Arena, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Paramount Theatre, 1stBank Center, Elitch Gardens Theme Park, and Warner Center complex.
Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication with additional information on Valorant players being let go.