Acend has benched in-game leader Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi, the organization announced today.
BONECOLD has been a part of the VALORANT team since its inception under the name Don’t Even Ask dating back to January 2021. Their rise to glory began shortly thereafter under the Acend banner.
Acend entered Europe’s VCT Stage One Masters One in March 2021 as massive underdogs. On their way to a grand final appearance, they took down the likes of NIP and FPX. In the finals, they met tournament favorites Team Heretics, who they bested in a five-map series, crowning themselves as Europe’s best heading into VCT Stage Two.
But in VCT Stage Two, they were unable to replicate the same level of success. In VCT Stage Two Challengers Two, they fell victim to a hot-handed Team Vitality, ending their run at Riot’s first international event, VCT Masters Reykjavik.
Heading into VCT Stage Three, Acend set their sights on qualifying for VCT Masters Berlin. And that’s what they did, qualifying for Masters Berlin with a 2-1 victory over Gambit Esports. At Masters Berlin, they were on the verge of victory in the quarterfinals against 100 Thieves but were unable to close out the series, ultimately ending their run at the title.
Acend’s consistent performance throughout 2021 netted them a spot at VALORANT Champions via Circuit Points. Acend immediately found themselves on the backfoot against Brazilian heavyweights, Vivo Keyd. But an illegal camera used by JhoW gifted Acend seven rounds, leading to a map three victory.
Acend breezed through the rest of their matches until it came to the grand finals against Gambit. A five-map series between the two European powerhouses decided who would be crowned the first winner of VALORANT Champions. Acend ultimately came out on top, claiming the VALORANT Champions title.
BONECOLD’s move to the bench comes after Acend failed to qualify for the 2022 VCT Stage One Challengers One playoffs. Acend will now gear up for a Stage Two run with a new in-game leader at the helm.