Acend announced the signing of controller player Travis “L1NK” Mendoza today, filling the void left by inactive member Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt with the Team Liquid mainstay from Great Britain.
Coincidentally, both L1NK and zeek were moved to the inactive roster of their respective teams within weeks of each other this past June. L1NK’s move to the bench came as a bit of a surprise; Liquid were sitting at a 2-1 record in EMEA VCT Stage Two, and both sides came to a “mutual conclusion” to eventually part ways just hours before the team’s scheduled match against NAVI. Liquid signed Dreamas of LDN UTD for the remainder of Stage Two, but Liquid fizzled out in playoffs before Dreamas ended up departing earlier this month.
Acend also stumbled in playoffs, losing two straight matches in the double-elimination bracket of Stage Two just like Liquid did. For the reigning world champions, this result combined with missing playoffs altogether in Stage One meant another roster change was at hand, having previously moved on from Champions roster members BONECOLD and Kiles earlier in the year.
For Acend, following this move, the majority of the roster that lifted the first-ever VALORANT world championship is now gone, with only Turkish superstar cNed and starxo remaining. As opposed to last year, Acend will have to make it through the daunting EMEA Last Chance Qualifier if they want to reach Champions. But to their credit, they’ve just picked up a player who’s done it before, as L1NK and Liquid reached last year’s Champions via an impressive EMEA LCQ run themselves.
The EMEA LCQ begins on Aug. 7, but given that both teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, a Liquid vs. Acend clash wouldn’t happen until the upper bracket final, assuming both teams survive long enough to reach that point. Liquid begin their run against BBL Esports out of Turkey, while Acend will take on M3C in a Champions grand final rematch.