FNATIC FNATIC Europe Rank #1 have become the first partnered VCT team to take advantage of the 2024 Affiliate Partnership system by announcing Mandatory Mandatory Europe Rank #33 as their Partnered Affiliate Team.
Last year, Riot shared their vision for the upcoming season, which highlighted the company's strategy for Challengers Leagues heading into the 2024-2025 season.
In their announcement, the concept of Affiliate Partnerships between teams was introduced. International teams would have the opportunity to build partnerships with Challenger and Game Changers teams, which in turn would unlock more opportunities to collaborate content and commercial partnerships.
Affiliate partnerships with Challengers teams were region-locked, meaning that an organization competing in the EMEA League could only partner with an EMEA Challengers team, for example. However, Riot detailed that partnerships with Game Changers teams were not restricted to the region in which an organization was competing in.
By participating in the Affiliate Partnership system, teams unlock the ability to utilize Two-Way Players. Players – such as a team's sixth man – who may not see as much playtime as their teammates may play in an Affiliate Partner Team's roster down in Challengers and Game Changers. Riot explained that this system helps give players “valuable competitive experience instead of being relegated to the bench.”
FNATIC enter 2024 as EMEA's pride and joy after taking home the trophy in both São Paulo's LOCK//IN and Japan's Masters: Tokyo last year. Despite falling short at Champions with a fourth-place finish, the organization retains the same roster as last year, save for a vacant sixth-man spot previously occupied by Maks "kamyk" Rychlewski.
Mandatory advanced all the way to the Play-Ins Playoffs of EMEA Ascension, where they were unfortunately denied access to the Group Stage following a fifth-place finish. Throughout their time within the French Challengers League, they played second fiddle to Gentle Mates Gentle Mates Europe Rank #7 , the eventual Ascension champions who secured their place within the 2024 EMEA League.
Through their partnership with Mandatory, FNATIC have become the first VCT team to unlock the benefits of the Affiliate Partner system. As the season looms closer and closer, other organizations may choose to follow suit.