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After losing early in the VALORANT Champions Tour Europe, Middle East and Africa 2022 Stage 2 Challengers playoffs, Acend have put Aleksander “zeek” Zygmunt on the bench. The team confirmed that they will trial a new player for the upcoming Last Chance Qualifiers for Champions in 2022. Despite improving from Stage 1 Challengers as a team, their poor performance in that stage put the team in a bad position to qualify for Champions. Now, after improving but still losing in the Stage 2 Challengers playoffs, the team is making one change before the LCQ begins.

Zeek benched

It’s fair to say that benching the MVP that led your team to be the first ever VALORANT Champions just last year is a bold move for Acend. They had a poor start in 2022 thanks to team and personal issues, not even qualifying for the playoffs. However, with new signings and a fresh start, Acend improved in Stage 2 to something similar to how they played in 2021. With new signings Vakaris “vakk” Bebravičius and Ondřej “MONSTEERR” Petrů, the team was primed to improve as the coordination did.

They finished the group stage with a 4-1 record, only losing to eventual region champions in Fnatic. Yet, in the playoffs, an early elimination to both M3 Champions and FunPlus Phoenix led to them leaving the tournament first alongside Team Liquid. So, without making it to Stage 2 Masters, their qualification for Champions in 2022 hinges on their LCQ performance. Feeling like “a change was necessary” for the LCQ, Acend made the decision to bench Zeek.

Who will be the fifth?

Now, the future of Acend’s 2022 and possible return to Champions revolves around this fifth player. The role they’ll have to replace is a big one, as zeek’s flexibility was key to their success so far. But, as someone who had to be replaced earlier in the year due to personal issues, this isn’t something the roster is completely new to.

Acend have yet to announce who this fifth man is, but they’ll have to step up if they want any hope of winning the LCQ and another chance to be the VALORANT Champions.