Braxton ‘swag’ Pierce and Keven ‘AZK’ Larivière have surprised the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community by announcing that they are leaving Torqued just weeks before their biggest event to date, ESL One: Belo Horizonte.
At 21 years of age, swag is arguably the greatest tragedy of the ex-iBUYPOWER matchfixing scandal - an act which resulted in the culprits receiving bans from Valve at the start of 2015.
For throwing the match, and receiving some skins in return, swag, Joshua ‘steel’ Nissan, AZK, and a number of other notable members of the North American CS:GO scene all received indefinite bans from Valve and most tournament organizers followed suit.
This effectively ended the promising careers of some of North America’s biggest talents. None more so than swag, the youngest member of the team and widely regarded as the most promising talent in North American Counter-Strike at the time.
After over 2 years away from the professional CS:GO scene, swag and co. got thrown a lifeline after the likes of ESL and DreamHack announced that the banned players would be allowed to begin competing in their events and leagues once more.
Swag, steel, and AZK have been playing together on Torqued for a number of months now and recently qualified for their biggest event yet in the form of the $200,000 ESL One: Belo Horizonte tournament.
They also recently attended DreamHack Tours 2018 and have been on an upward trajectory throughout 2018. However, that all came to an abrupt halt on May 23rd when swag announced his shock departure via a TwitLonger statement:
“Hey all, today I have decided to step down from Torqued. I don't want to go into details why I'm making this decision and I know the timing is really bad as they have a big tourney coming up in Brazil but I don't think there was a good time to make this choice. I still have love for the players and wish them the best of luck
As for me, I know my "comeback" since being unbanned from ESL and Dreamhack has been underwhelming. I know i'm capable of way more and I just need to keep grinding.
I feel like I need a mental reset but for now I will start streaming and playing FPL/Rank S to try and reach my potential and consider other offers that come my way.
Thank you for continuing to support me throughout all of these ups and downs <3”
The news left Torqued in a tough spot as ESL One: Belo Horizonte begins on June 13th, giving the team a mere three weeks to find a replacement and get them ready for the Brazilian event.
However, things got even worse when AZK followed suit on May 24th, stating that he had found out that he was going to be benched in the near future anyway.
“During the last day of our trip in Europe, I was told that the team was going to bench me and that I would not be playing with them in the upcoming ESEA season and the ESL One Belo Horizonte event in Brazil.
After taking some time to reflect on everything that has happened, I've decided to leave Torqued to pursue opportunities elsewhere. I will still be playing CS:GO actively and I'll be working everyday on trying to improve as a player. I wanted to finish by saying that there's no bad blood between us and I sincerely wish the best of luck to all of the guys on Torqued.”
It is currently uncertain what Torqued will decide to do next. With Belo Horizonte looming they now need to find two suitable replacements or they could be forced to withdraw entirely.