Challengers Uprising finished last night, with an absolute banger of a series between No Org and Barrage.NA.
Barrage.NA came in swinging, looking to take the series by storm, but No Org held out and were able to take it to Game 5. A series that was worthy of being the finals of the final Tier 2 event. This was the culmination of everything we’ve seen so far in the Proving Grounds Circuit.
Tragedy struck, however, and Barrage were forced to forfeit the final game due to power outages. Not the way anybody wanted the series to go.
This does mean that No Org takes first place once again; going into the Tier 1 Tournaments as the first seed from the Amateur scene.
The United Esports Association’s Unified Grand Prix starts tonight, 6pm EST, and will be shown over on the Academy Twitch channel! Make sure you check it out, as TSM Academy and CLG Academy join our top 10 Amateur teams.
36 teams have taken part in the Tier 2 Tournaments, not including Golden Guardians Academy or the teams that didn’t make it through Open Qualifiers. Only 12 of them have been able to advance to Tier 1, so here is a list of those 24 unsuccessful teams and their stories!
Whilst the teams may have been unable to advance to the Tier 1 Tournaments, they should all be celebrated. Think about how many teams there are in the scene, these are a selection of those that sit at the top. Their stories need telling, the players need talking about, because you will see them again.
Hopefully they've caught your interest, and you'll continue to follow their stories beyond the Proving Grounds Circuit!
Redemption Arc has been one of those higher teams, so has been talked about and put under the spotlight.
This was a team put together for BIG League and Challengers Uprising. We talk about a lot of these players throughout the article, as they come from teams like Super Sunshine Fruit Basket Warriors and Sign Us Please, but this is a roster that is stacked with experience. The most inexperienced is likely Eclipse, the Toplaner joined the scene in 2019; but still made a brief appearance on Cloud9 Academy. On the flipside, the most experienced in PapaChau. The Support has been around since 2014, spending time with Maryville University and even Echo Fox Academy. More recently, they’ve been playing with higher level teams, such as ANEW Esports, Supernova, and even Clutch Academy a couple of years ago.
It is clear why so much was expected from them, and ending in 13th place shows how well they met those expectations; just missing out on the chance to advance.
They fell short in BIG League, losing out to some of the higher teams in Group A. But then made up for it in Challengers Uprising after going 3-2, getting revenge on teams like Winthrop and Mirage who had beaten them in the previous event. This allowed them to move on to Playoffs, but were quickly dispatched by SolaFide in the Quarterfinals.
Being one of the top teams, we’ve seen a lot of 100X and talked about them multiple times too. With their performance, it is easy to see why.
100X came into the Proving Grounds Circuit with a lot of talent, with players that are not only young but have shown stellar performances beforehand. Over half of the players have played in a Scouting Grounds Circuit, and have the veteran in FallenBandit leading them as the Coach.
100X brings excitement due to the idea of a developmental team. Just as we talk about the import rules being removed, having a team that wants to build a pillar in the Amateur scene and give young talent a chance to develop and gain exposure; this is what the scene needs. The Class of 2020 graduated, the Class of 2021 has just begun; and I can’t wait to see what these players can do moving forwards.
No Org (aka ANEW Genesis)
ANEW Gensis was built upon the core of the old ConViction roster. As a roster, this was yet again young talent. None of the players have information that pre-dates 2020, these are just strong players that came together for the PGC.
Under their ConViction banner, this roster took a top 8 spot in the Challengers Uprising New Years Showdown, which felt like a preview for the Tier 2 Tournaments. They then went on to take a 17th place finish in the Risen Champions League, after going 3-3 in the Round Robin. Their three losses were against some of the top teams, in the form of Supernova, Sign Us Please, and Cloud9 Amateur.
Following the first of the T2 Tournaments, the roster was picked up by ANEW Genesis before being disbanded and forming No Org, with four out of the five players.
In the BIG League, the team found some more success, but with only two teams moving on from Groups, this roster found themselves left behind as those seats were reserved for Barrage.NA and Revival. The roster continue to falter against higher teams, unable to make Challengers Uprising’s event after falling to Bay State College in the Open Qualifiers.
The team showed talent and promise, proven by how happy teams were to pick them up. This roster essentially played under three different teams over a couple of months. Expect to see their names pop up again in the future.
Illinois State University
Offering another perspective on teams in the Amateur scene, we have Illinois State University. Originally run as the Redbird Esports organization, this became a Varsity team in 2019 and has continued to offer a structured and well supported program. As a college, they have multiple ways of supporting esports and gaming, from casual gaming leagues to the competitive Collegiate team.
This team has been around for a while, having played as early as 2017 in the Collegiate scene. They started to find more success over the past year; with a second place finish in the Risen Champions League Season 10 Groups. They continued to perform well, taking third in the RCL Season 10 Playoffs, as well as third in the Upsurge Premier League in Fall.
The team placed 19th in the Risen Champions League this year, with a 3-3 record. Not a performance the team should be disappointed in. Their demons followed them in BIG League, where they found themselves in Group C with top tier teams that they couldn’t surpass. Taking a third place finish behind Evil Geniuses Prodigies and ANEW Blaze.
Whilst the journey didn’t continue through CUP as they couldn’t defeat Redemption Arc to get through the Open Qualifiers, this is a team to keep an eye on. If you’re into Esports, you can only hope to find a structured program like theirs at your university.
Bay State College
We’ve talked about Bay State recently, but I still want to recount their journey through the Tier 2 Tournaments.
A respectable 9th place finish in Risen Champions League showed that this was a strong team. A 4-2 record, only dropping games to ANEW and Mirage, showed they had the talent to succeed. But they began to falter. A change in the Jungler may have just been coincidence, but they struggled in BIG League. Finding themselves in a Group of Death, they went 1-4 after finding their only win against ReDefy. They did, however, still find wins against some of the top teams; something to be positive about. The team continued to struggle against top teams in CUP too, with Maryville and Winthrop finding 2-1's against them. Again, being able to take games off of top teams is an achievement that shouldn’t be overlooked.
They have a strong line up, and supported by a decent program at Bay State College. I look forward to this team continuing to grow, and to see them play in the Collegiate scene.
As an organization, Clarity is storied. A fourth place finish at Dreamhack Montreal in 2018 is just the start of their success. Third place finish in UPL in 2018, first place at the Pryde Invitational in that same year. The team has even had a past Coach go on to join TSM Academy. Across different rosters, this organization has found success for years, and players have moved on to bigger and higher places.
Again, this team simply had struggles against higher teams throughout the Tier 2 Tournaments. Going 3-3 in Risen’s event, dropping games to the likes of Revival and SolaFide, gave them a 13th place finish. This type of performance was repeated in BIG League, going 2-3 after having to play the likes of Mirage and ANEW.
Whilst Team Clarity wasn’t necessarily a stand out team, they cemented themselves as a quality team. The organization itself is rooted deeply in the Amateur scene across multiple titles, and they’ll be a name you’ll likely see again.
As a team, they performed as expected. A 3-3 record in Risen’s Champions League, only falling to the likes of ANEW’s sister teams and Cloud9 Amateur, they then began to struggle in BIG League where they found themselves simply outmatched by the higher teams in their Group. Mirage Esports then beat them in the CUP Qualifiers.
Wichita Wolves Esports is based in Kansas, with a facility for players to play from. This is a professional organization that wants to develop themselves, players, and the scene into something competitive and professional. They represent everything that an Amateur team wants to become.
This team only played in Risen Champions League, with a 3-3 record. Previously, they had taken a top 8 spot in the CUP New Years Showdown. The team was short-lived, created and disbanded in under three weeks. But the players’ journeys continued.
Chim joined ANEW Blaze, Hyami joined Mirage, and John joined ANEW Genesis. Meanwhile, RobbyBob and Shorthop have turned to university teams, joining George Mason University and University of Western Ontario respectively.
With such a short lived tenure, its hard to say much more about the team. But with the members moving on to quite high tier teams, it shows how strong the roster was.
Super Sunshine Fruit Basket Warriors
The Super Sunshine Fruit Basket Warriors are another of this short-lived teams.
They yet again had a 3-3 record in the Risen Champions League, but I would argue were on the lower end as they fell to some of the more mid-tier teams. They were placed 20th, a stark contrast to their top 8 placing at CUP New Years Showdown.
However, the players did go on to higher teams, with Midlaner rovex and Support PapaChau going to Redemption.
They may not have had a standout performance in the one Tier 2 Tournament they took part in, but players moving on to teams that have done well shows a lot. I also believe that this is the type of team that suffers in the Amateur scene, and above, to be honest. They seem like a group of high tier players that came together to just be able to compete in the Proving Grounds. They wouldn’t have had the same amount of time to gel and work together, they were a team that mostly gained the benefit of being scouted. They even say they're a 'fun team', but if they came to be scouted, then it has done its job.
Sign Us Please
I guess this team got what they asked, another team put together in the hopes of being scouted and picked up, the roster played together for the Risen Champions League and then disbanded as they each found new homes.
A 3-3 record gave the team 18th place in the Risen Champions League, able to take games off of ConViction and Revival. The players then went on to successful organizations. Freeze, the Midlaner, and Gweiss, the Support, both left the Proving Grounds Circuit. Freeze has stayed with Bethany Lutheran College, where the University has an esports program founded by DoA; a background that shouldn’t be looked over. Gweiss, on the other hand, has joined Windstorm.
Eclipse, the Toplaner, had been on Windstorm with Gweiss, spending a week on the roster. After leaving SUP, Eclipse went to join Redemption Arc, a team that has performed well across the following Tier 2 Tournaments. I also want to name drop that Eclipse had previously played for World Class Elite, an organization that is a staple within the Amateur scene.
Jozy, the Jungler, jumped a little more. Playing with Wildcard Gaming for BIG League, before joining Wichita Wolves for the CUP Open Qualifiers. Jozy is a player that has had solid performances in the past, especially during his time on Life Support. Definitely a player we are likely to see more of in the scene.
Bmfx, the Botlaner, followed in Jozy’s footsteps, joining Wildcard for the BIG League. A newer player on the scene, but definitely made their mark; especially after the Kai’Sa Pentakill against ConViction in Risen Champions League.
Similar to Super Sunshine Fruit Basket Warriors in the same respect as they seem to have come in looking to be scouted, as is obvious with their name, but perhaps a more successful version?
According to all the stats and websites, Glacial Esports don’t exist. I however disagree.
The team struggled, a top 21 place isn’t bad for their Risen Champions League run; especially since they 2-0’d Cloud9 Amateur if I’m reading match histories correctly.
Glacial Esports as an organization are another staple within the Amateur scene. They have teams of various levels competing in a variety of leagues. Being able to send a team to the Proving Grounds Circuit, and have them beat an LCS org-backed team, is a huge achievement for them. This is proof that Amateur teams can make it, and can dance with the best.
These are the types of teams I hoped to see in the Tier 2 Tournaments, so I am happy to see that Glacial Esports showed up.
Harrisburg University Storm
Another team with an impressive background, the team from Harrisburg University has seen members go on to Cloud9 Academy and TSM Academy; not a surprise when Xpecial is the Head Coach, and Tyler (former Analyst for Phoenix1 and Team Liquid, as well as coaching positions on P1, Golden Guardians, and Echo Fox) as Assistant Coach.
As a team, they have a successful history, partaking in Scout Grounds Circuit in 2019, and Collegiate events since. Even taking 1st place in the Best Coast Invitational last year.
This roster is more recent, however, and only took part in BIG League, rather than Risen Champions League. They fell into Group B, meaning they would not be expected to proceed over Revival and Barrage.NA. They did, however, take games from ANEW Genesis and Revival, as well as a 2-0 over Supernova.
This is another example of a collegiate team that is showing development, succeeding themselves whilst also producing players that can move on to successful organizations and Academy teams; it is also helpful when LCS players and staff come to support this development and program.
Dawn Esports is another storied organization, its been around for a while but is yet to find their break. The biggest names they’ve had on their teams are the likes of 5fire and Freeze. Since 2018, they have never done better than a third place finish, and struggled in BIG League’s Groups.
Whilst this can be seen as negatives, the fact the organization has been around and taken part in so many events shows the commitment and longevity. Constant top 6 finishes aren’t exactly bad, and they’re giving all their players a home. Something that any Amateur and aspiring pro would look for; a chance to compete.
Since 2017, they’ve only had one player not go on to another team, and that was Dogma who left last month. Which, to me, shows their importance in giving players experience, allowing them to move on after their time with Dawn Esports. This team essentially becomes a stage, allowing players to put on their best performance.
In BIG, they struggled in a Group with Winthrop, ANEW, Mirage and Redemption. Can’t really blame them for the 0-5 record. In Risen Champions League they had a nicer performance, taking games off of 100X and ReDefy.
ReDefy are another of those staples in the Amateur scene, funnily enough we’re seeing a lot of staples here.
ReDefy definitely struggled in the Tier 2 Tournaments, perhaps finding themselves a little out of their depth. Their only wins came from some of the lower teams like Dawn Esports and Wildcard Developmental.
Most of the players don’t have the most storied of backgrounds, other than Topopotamus who had played on ConViction for a good chunk of 2020.
There is not much more to say about ReDefy, but the organization is growing. Apparently founded just a year ago, to field a team in the Proving Grounds Circuit is an achievement. You should be looking to find their presence more strongly felt within the Amateur scene from now on.
Mirage Elite is another sister team that makes me feel like the organization had so many players and wanted to field them all.
Mirage entered this roster, formerly Dark Allegiance, just for the Risen Champions League. The team has since disbanded, with none of the players moving to new teams (so far).
The fact that players didn’t move on is a shame, in my opinion. Some have returned to their collegiate teams, but after a good showing you’d hope that they’d peak people’s interests. Taking games off of some of the top teams means that even in losses they danced with the best. If a team goes 2-4, but those losses were close, it speaks that they quite simply put up a fight and perhaps aren't worthy of where the standings put them.
Sister teams I’d stereotype as being lower tier than main rosters, which I feel is fair, but I also feel like Mirage Elite fought against that stereotype.
We may not see the team again, and most of the players currently don’t have a home, but look out for their names.
Look at FrostFire’s history and you see success. But was this founded on the back of Quas? Possibly, but it feels unfair to say that.
Coming into 2021, FrostFire was a team that you could be hyped for. Over 2020, the team entered seven events, and took a top three finish in six of them. We know the Amateur scene is competitive and has produced amazing teams, the fact that FrostFire has played against them, and likely beaten them, multiple times would give you hope.
Coming into 2021, FrostFire lost Quas as he joined Bay State College, and it seems like he was their star player. Yes, they fell to high caliber teams like Super Fruit Basket Warriors and 100X, but a 26th place finish in the RCL is disappointing for what would be expected from them. They then went on to not qualify for the Challengers Uprising Season 2.
FrostFire as an org is historied, again being a team where you can see multiple players have passed through and moved on to top tier teams. FrostFire itself isn’t something to be laughed at, the team has dominated in tournaments within the Amateur scene. It does, however, seem that losing Quas and having to play in tournaments stacked with competition has hurt them severely.
Chilly Mountain Wolves
Another team that was likely put together for the Proving Grounds Circuit, this teams’ history begins in the Risen Champions League Open Qualifiers. Chilly Mountain as an organization, however, is a little more storied; with a number of teams playing across different events.
Whilst the team lacked experience across the board, the Support, Pockus, has been in the scene since 2016. Having played on teams like Supernova, ANEW, Life Support and Mirage, this is a seasoned player who has been on rosters that have had success. That is three 1st place finishes I see over the last 2 months of 2020.
When it comes to the RCL, Chilly Mountain cemented themselves as a mid tier team quite firmly in my eyes. Taking 2-0 wins over some of the lower teams, like Striking Vipers and ReDefy, but also being 2-0’d by some of the top teams, like ANEW and 100X. Their position became clear, a 2-4 finish isn’t bad when you look at who they had to face. They then were knocked out of the CUP Open Qualifiers by ANEW Blaze.
The team members haven’t left, but will the roster stay together? Who knows. But I feel like these are players we are likely to see more of. They may lack experience, but they performed admirably in the Tier 2 Tournaments they took part in. I definitely feel like Pockus will be seen again.
It hurts because it feels like ConViction was a high tier team, so seeing them end so low on the standings is unexpected. But that is for the org, not this team.
The original team placed 17th in the RCL, with a 3-3 record. Not bad. But that roster was picked up by ANEW Genesis. This speaks volumes, that a high tier organization would pick up the roster to form a sister team.
Then, the replacement roster didn’t perform as well. A 0-5 performance in BIG League, albeit in Group B which meant facing Supernova, Revival, No Org and Barrage.NA. They then couldn’t make it through the Open Qualifiers into CUP.
ConViction sees itself as an organization that focuses on training players in a pro-like environment. This is easily seen in the results of their labor, with multiple players going to teams like ANEW, Bay State College, and Cloud9 Amateur. This is an organization that is taking talent, developing it, and shipping it out to high teams.
Wildcard Gaming Developmental
Does what it says in the name. Whilst it may not have a storied history, we’ve seen what Wildcard as an organization is capable of. Producing a developmental team to go alongside its main team, and spending time and resources in developing more talent not only helps the scene, but also the organization itself.
The entire roster, and Manager, joined in January; just a day before Open Qualifiers for Risen Champions League.
Maryville University Black
Sister team to Maryville University Red, which is the main team, this team had quite the opposite performance to their comrades.
We’ve talked before about Maryville University and their strong programme and club, and I feel like having a sister helps this. Giving more players time competing is only healthy for the players and their clubs, giving them more experience as well as opportunities to be scouted. Better than being limited to a single roster of five players.
I think my favorite thing is how they’ve been beaten by their sister team in the past. At the Harrisburg University Invitational last year, the finals was between the Maryville teams; Red took the win over Black. In the UPL Fall Playoffs last year, Maryville Red knocked Black out in the quarterfinals.
Maryville Black only took part in the BIG League, where they found themselves in Group C. With losses to Wichita Wolves, Cloud9 Amateur, ANEW Blaze and Evil Geniuses Prodigies, it is understandable that they fell with a 1-4 record.
This is a strong roster, but overshadowed by the main team, and then being placed into a hard Group. Hopefully we will see these players develop and move on with as much success as all the other Maryville players.
Crystal Cave Gaming Emerald
This is an example of another type of team commonly seen within the Amateur scene. Crystal Cave Gaming features many teams, but Emerald is it’s highest ranking. Many teams run the same setup, having multiple teams of varying elos and levels, which all partake in various events and leagues.
Teams like this are perfect for players, being able to offer more spots at various levels as well as a form of progression through the teams. Even if Crystal Cave Gaming didn’t perform exceptionally in the Risen Champions League, they still did well to get here.
The team came through Open Qualifiers, but were then decimated by the likes of Super Fruit Basket Warriors and ConViction; they even had to face Barrage.NA as their first match. Finishing the RCL 2-4 isn’t bad, and they should be proud of their performance during their time in the T2 Tournament.
Striking Vipers is an organization that is growing across the Amateur scene, and across different games. Similar to Crystal Cave Gaming, Striking Vipers features multiple teams at different levels. They have set themselves the goal of helping to develop players to be pro-players, or joining the pro-scene themselves.
Again, similar to Crystal Cave Gaming, the Striking Vipers had to face a power house in their first game, in the form of Evil Geniuses Prodogies. They were unable to pick up a win against any team except for Peak Performance Y.
I will keep saying this, a 1-5 finish isn’t bad.
The organization itself was founded less than six months ago, so making its way to Proving Grounds is an achievement. The roster itself was seemingly put together just to take part in Risen Champions League. Getting in through the Open Qualifiers, the team went 2-4 after having to face some of the power houses.
Players have since moved on, with Solitified joining Wildcard Developmental, and the Strategic Coach, Draxyr, joining ANEW Gensis.
Peak Performance X
Peak Performance has had decent showings in the past, a fourth place finish at UPL in Fall, Peak Performance renamed to Peak Performance Y in January. Peak Performance X, therefore, is seemingly the sister team.
Peak Performance X had a better performance out of the two, with a 1-5 record in RCL. Whilst most of the losses were to power houses, their one win was, in fact, against their sister team.
The majority of Peak X players moved on to join ConViction after RCL, before re-joining to try for CUP Open Qualifiers.
Peak Y is a similar performance, struggling in Risen Champions League and taking the last place spot. The majority of the roster left to join ConViction, and there are no longer any active players on the team.
This is the Proving Grounds Circuit. It is stacked. Teams have made achievements to just attend it. It is easy for us to sit and criticize, but I can’t even get close to being able to attend as a player. Just because a team went 0-5 does not mean they’re bad, it just shows the strength of the other teams.