Movistar Riders bench steel, release shokz
The Spanish organization is making roster changes after a rocky first half of 2021.
Movistar Riders announced that they are parting ways with Kristjan "shokz" Jakobson, who joined the team in the 2020 off-season, and moving longtime in-game leader Lucas "steel" Lopes to the bench.
The Brazilian player's contract is set to run until the end of the year, but the Madrid-based organization is open to hearing offers from other teams interested in the 27-year-old's services.
The two changes in Movistar Riders come after a rocky season that ended with qualification to the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown after playoff victories against SAW and OFFSET in the Iberian qualifier, but had more lows than highs over all.
The European team initially started off 2021 with the high-profile signing of Owen "smooya" Butterfield and hit an all-time high in the team ranking during the honeymoon period, landing the 22nd place, but after the ascent they plummeted to a year-low 66th place in early July — a trend they bucked to return to No. 47 by the end of the season.
The dip in the rankings came following a last place finish at ESL National Championship Global Playoffs Spring, 7-8th place at REPUBLEAGUE TIPOS Season 1, and 11-12th place in ESEA Premier Season 37 Europe, where they narrowly missed relegations with a victory over SAW in the 11th-place decider match.
Movistar Riders are now down to two longtime members, Alejandro "alex" Masanet and Alejandro "mopoz" Fernández-Quejo Cano, as well as their latest signing and most productive player in the rating department, AWPer smooya.
Coach Galder "bladE" Barcena and the team's technical staff will now be tasked with finding two replacement players ahead of the second half of 2021, including the particularly arduous undertaking of replacing the outgoing IGL of nearly two years.
Movistar Riders is now:
Galder "bladE" Barcena (coach)
Lucas "steel" Lopes (benched)