Acend announced that 2021 VCT Champions MVP Aleksander “Zeek” Zygmunt will be benched ahead of LCQ, marking an end to the core that earned the UK based organization the highest honor in VALORANT.
In many ways, the rise of Zeek in the flex role as both a dangerous rifler and an incredibly effective support pushed Acend over Gambit in the VCT 2021 Champs Grand Final. Adding high average ACS and damage output aside from star Duelist Mehmet “cNed” Yağız İpek was crucial to their playoff run and beating the 2021 juggernauts Gambit
And Zeek wasn’t just good during that run. He was phenomenal. His agent pool flexibility paved the way towards competing in the Champions meta and kept their map pool open. The team wasn’t reliant solely on cNed on the entry role, allowing them to keep teams off guard en route to the historical win.
Acend miss out on Masters Copenhagen
Returning to the present, Acend hasn’t been able to replicate the same level of success since Champs. Missing out on two consecutive Masters events were massive red flags for a team with worldly aspirations. The same formula of surrounding cNed with support that worked in the past wasn’t the same with him primarily on Chamber over the nerfed Jett.
In 12 official VCT EMEA matches in 2022, Acend have a median 6-6 record. Despite a hot start to stage 2, including a win over Masters qualifier FPX, Acend floundered in the playoffs being the first team out in lower round one.
Acend bench Zeek amid struggles
Moving ahead, the organization announced via Twitter that Zeek will be benched and they will begin trialing players in his place. The move coincides with the upcoming Last Chance Qualifier, where Acend will have one more opportunity to protect their World Champion title and qualify for Champions.
Zeek’s struggles in and out of the server have been a constant theme throughout the year. Shortly before Acend faced BBL for the last playoff spot in Stage 1, Zeek announced that he was taking a break, citing mental health issues as the reason. Acend went onto lose that game with a ringer and fell out of playoff contention.
In terms of the numbers, his ACS has fallen off about 40 points from Champions. Even in a Raze focused meta, his agent pool was limited to Initiators and his damaged stats have suffered in the process. He wasn’t providing the same value playing off his teammates, on executes or as a site anchor and Acend decided it was time to move on.
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Acend move on from Champions core
Furthermore, the Zeek benching is the third move since March where Acend chip away at the former Champs roster. Former in-game leader Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi and Vladyslav “kiles” Shvets were removed on March 23rd as Ondřej “Monsterrr” Petrů and former Vitality IGL Vakaris “Vakk” Bebravičius were brought in as replacements.
In a word to describe the 2022 followup season for Acend: messy. The mismanagement of personnel and the constant roster turnover has essentially ruined any chance of them making a qualifying run. However, with more than a month before EMEA’s Last Chance Qualifier, making the move now gives them a slight chance. One last chance to integrate a new player and compete at LCQ for that final Champions spot.