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Talon Esports recruits three Filipino players ahead of VCT Stage 2 Challengers

Logo of Talon Esports, tags: valorant - CC BY-SA

Last month, Hong Kong-based Talon Esports announced its grand foray into the competitive scene of Riot Games’ hit FPS title, VALORANT. On April 21, the organization revealed its three new players from the Philippines, namely GabbyDiz, Aaron “gnaru” Stefano Bonaobra and Mark “markL” Ed Lester.

According to the team’s announcement, Talon is slated to participate in the upcoming VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 2 Challengers in the Philippines. The closest event of the tournament is the open qualifiers scheduled to begin on April 30.

Ahead of Philippines VCT Champions

The signing of three Filipinos to the roster lineup marked Talon’s deep interest in the Philippines’ professional competitive scene.

While the organization itself has quite made its name in a few competitive plays, namely League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, and Overwatch—Talon was keen on setting its foot and cater more Filipinos due to their “world class talent”.

Prior to signing three new Filipinos to its VALORANT lineup, Talon apparently entered the Philippines’ gaming talent market back in 2021 in search of the missing pieces for its DOTA 2 team lineup, PSG Talon.

“We have been big fans of the game since its release in 2020 and seen the success of VCT across the globe last year. We know that the Philippines has world class talent and look forward in strengthening the country’s representation on the international stage,” PSG Talon CEO Sean Zhang in an announcement last month.

Talon kicked off open tryouts for its VALORANT roster on March 24. According to the recruitment advertisement, the organization was specifically looking for Filipinos able to communicate in English. While a few insiders suggest the poster opens for anyone from Asia, Talon affirmed its preference for having Filipinos instead. Which was later confirmed on April 21.

In total, Talon’s DOTA 2 lineup has two Filipinos, namely streamer John “johnxfire” Nathan Fernandez and former team turned T1’s player Kim “Gabbi” Villafuerte Santos.

Apparently, other than the Philippines, Talon was keen on exploring opportunities in other Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea. The former was due to its growing gaming viewership and the other is known in the professional scene for providing some of the best esports talents worldwide.

Talon’s plan to set foot in South Korea was canceled due to unknown reasons. However, it appeared that the main reason why Talon shifted from South Korea to the Philippines was due to the Korean scene slowly losing its top talents to other regions that offer higher pay, as per multiple reports.

Preparation ahead of VCT Stage 2, Talon’s roster info

The Philippines VCT Stage 2 Challengers have been scheduled to begin sometime in May and qualifiers are slated for April 30. Talon is still missing two more players for its lineup.

Talon’s three new Filipino professionals have prior experience in VALORANT competitive play. Both markL and gnaru participated in VALORANT Regional Champions, Fire Strike 2020. While GabbyDiz also had compete alongside gnaru in Bestial Esports. Meanwhile, markL’s last team was with a Vietnamese professional organization, OK.

The three, however, have yet to step on any VALORANT major events or be seeded into VALORANT Asia-Pacific Masters or Champions.