The 2023 North American Split One Challengers tournament will feature 12 VALORANT teams, six invited and eight from open qualifiers, competing for circuit points and an opportunity to represent NA at MSI. And TSM, one of the favorites to win the tournament, strengthened its roster today with the signing of Andrey “Engh” Sholokhov, the former head coach of Gambit Esports and M3 Champions.
Engh first entered the VCT with the initial signing of Gambit Esports in 2020, consisting of Chronicle, d3ffo, sheydos, Sunset, and nAts. The team immediately made waves in the 2021 CIS VCT, winning five out of six domestic Challengers and Masters tournaments in CIS. Gambit’s tournament results led to an invite to the 2021 EMEA Stage Three Challengers Playoffs, with an opportunity to compete internationally at Masters 3 Berlin.
Gambit rose up to the occasion, fighting through the lower bracket to be crowned champions of EMEA as their first seed going to Masters 3. Suffering only one loss in the group stage to 100 Thieves, Gambit tore through each of their opponents, dropping a total of three maps all tournament, including going undefeated in the finals 3-0 against Team Envy. This first-place finish also directly invited Gambit to Champions 2021.
Entering Champions, Gambit were predicted as the favorite to win the entire tournament, only dropping three maps again all event leading up to the finals. But the team fell short 3-2 to fellow EMEA team Acend, ending their competitive year in second place.
In 2022, Gambit released its roster, with all players and staff staying together and competing underneath the banner M3 Champions. But their performance fell short of their past dominance, failing to make a single international event in the entire year.
M3C missed Masters 1 by two placements with a fifth-place finish in Stage One Challengers and missed Masters 2 by one place, falling in fourth behind Guild Esports. Their last chance to make it to Champions 2022 was in the EMEA Last Chance Qualifier, where they were defeated by Team Liquid 3-1 in the finals, ending their hopes for an international appearance in 2022.
M3 Champions disbanded after Champions 2022, with Engh joining bonk as their new head coach. He led the team to a second-place finish in the VLR France, with Bonk only dropping maps to tournament champions Mandatory 2-0 in the upper finals and 3-1 in the grand final. Engh left Bonk on Dec. 29 and remained as a free agent until his recent signing with TSM.
Engh’s first tournament with TSM will be the 2023 North America Split One Challengers. Seeded into Group B, TSM will compete with The Guard, M80, Disguised, Dark Ratio, and OREsports to advance to the playoffs, where the top-four teams will represent NA at MSI 2023.