Here’s how Disguised Toast created his VALORANT team Disguised with $500,000 a year and how they qualified for their first VCT Challengers.
Disguised is a new and upcoming team in the VALORANT scene that recently qualified for their first VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Challengers event. The team was created by the well-known Twitch streamer and content creator Jeremy "Disguised Toast" Wang in late 2022.
Disguised Toast recently shared a YouTube video of his journey creating his own esports organization. It included details about how much it cost and the preparation required of his VALORANT team prior to competing in the Open Qualifier of the VCT Challengers event.
Disguised Toast joked about creating a VALORANT team
It started with a conversation between Disguised Toast and Tarik "tarik" Celik while they were playing VALORANT on a stream.
"I'm thinking of just picking five players. I want to fly them out to LA, put them in a mansion, feed them, give them a salary, and I say if you make it to VCT within one year, you can stay."
The idea was already planted. Interestingly, a new VALORANT league format was announced for 2023, and Disguised Toast noted that his idea was not bad at all.
Cost breakdown of creating an esports team
From the beginning, Disguised Toast knew it was going to cost a lot of money. When he talked about his venture within his circle, they estimated the maintenance of an esports team for a year to be at least a million dollars.
He tweeted before, asking how esports organizations make money. There was an overwhelming response where people said esports organizations actually don't make money. In one of the Wiseman Podcasts, Rod "Slasher" Breslau said, "You picked the worst time to get into esports in the last decade. Congratulations."
Disguised Toast explained the cost breakdown of starting an esports team. The first item on the list involved the yearly salaries of the players and coaches, which was $5,000 USD each. The overall cost for six people in a year amounted to about $360,000 USD. Furthermore, he thought about the operational costs, which involved a designer, accounting, and lawyers. The sum of salaries and operational costs brought the number to a huge sum of $500,000 USD.
Disguised's journey in the VALORANT scene
The team had a lot to do in two months. It started with creating an actual company, finding a coach who shared the same vision, and signing five players to carry Disguised in the VALORANT scene. On top of that, the players had to practice and hopefully win the first qualifier.
Disguised Toast asked CS:GO legend Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson for advice, and the latter advised him on where to start.
"If you are entering a space that you might not be a complete expert in, [always try to] and find and figure out who is going to be coaching these guys," he said.
Disguised Toast then approached Kyle "OCEAN" O'Brien to be the head coach of Disguised. OCEAN is a retired professional CS:GO player. Fifflaren explained how a team full of young talent needed someone with experience to guide them in the competitive scene. "It's not about just topping the scoreboard. It's about winning as a team, losing as a team," he said.
Fifflaren was really impressed with Toast's dedication to the team. "He could have just ended up picking up a team that was already formed before and just stuck his name on there. But he wanted to do something new, build it from scratch together with OCEAN and that takes a lot of time," he said.
OCEAN spent the next month trying to get players, eventually settling on three players he coached in the past, which are Drake "Exalt" Branly, Amgalan "Genghsta" Nemekhbayar, and Damion "XXiF" Cook. Then, they decided to take a chance on a new rookie player, Joseph “clear” Allen, and former T1 player Joshua “steel” Nissan.
How Disguised got its name and branding
The VALORANT team's name came from Toast's online persona name, Disguised Toast. He said he didn't want to name the team anything toast-related as "there will be too much bread puns."
He also elaborated on the team's acronym, DSG. Since the name is a very important aspect of team branding and identity, he wanted an acronym that people could easily chant during any event.
On the day that he was supposed to reveal the VALORANT roster, he didn't have any graphics ready for the announcement. He was in Japan and didn't have the time to cook something up. Equipped with MS Paint and stickman art expertise, he created a simple yet iconic announcement poster.
All work, all play for Disguised
Disguised went into training straight away. It was a stressful situation because if they didn't qualify, they had to wait until next year to try to get back into the VALORANT scene. They practiced every single day leading up to the VCT Challengers NA Open Qualifier.
OCEAN gave his all to bring the team to shape. "We kinda mash everything together and spent 10-12 hours a day, watching vods for 3-4 hours, scrimming four-five scrims a day just trying to accelerate everything, to be a big oiled machine, and try to come out and hit as hard as we can," he said.
Disguised qualified for the VCT NA Challengers
When tournament day finally arrived, Disguised competed in the Open Qualifier of the VALORANT Challengers 2023 North America Split 1. There were 256 teams alongside the single elimination and double elimination stages. The first three rounds were a breeze with a clear sweep. The second day didn't go as well, but they somehow managed to proceed to the final match of the qualifier. They met with Oxygen Esports and were on a roll, securing their qualification for the VCT NA Challengers event.
Disguised Toast was streaming their matches throughout the qualifier, holding his breath and wiping his sweat. When they were confirmed to qualify, he was ecstatic and emotional. "We made it to VCT Challengers. They played so well. I'm so happy. Mainly because I don't have to fire anyone. I'm not cut out for conversation like that."
He further talked about how he is not yet capable of paying the players as much as other huge organizations like TSM and G2 Esports. "All the players who are on this team, they're here because they want to be here. I think all of them could have been on better teams."
OCEAN expressed his appreciation for Toast's enthusiasm in his team, saying, "It was really nice thing to see emotionally invested bosses or owners."
Toast was really content with the team's achievement as well.
"I did not expect to be here. I'm just happy at this point. I feel like the year is already such a huge success even if we come bottom last," he said.