After six months of controversy, narrowly escaping relegation, and losing its entire lineup, Nora-Rengo has finally left the professional scene as Ubisoft has revoked its APAC North license.
Following a number of accusations from ex-Nora-Rengo players and staff that they had not been paid while working for the organisation, Ubisoft had only allowed Nora-Rengo to keep their APAC North spot and R6Share skin if the organisation's owner, CEO, and R6 manager, kizoku, had left the R6 team operations.
While he did agree to do so, giving up the titles of CEO and Manager to the ex-R6 analyst of Akidog and staying on as just the owner, the recent resignation of Akidog led kizoku to take over the running of the organisation once again.
This involvement in the team's running, including the signing of a new roster and negotiation with Ubisoft, broke kizoku's agreement with Ubisoft, hence forfeting the league license and R6Share skin.
This means Nora-Rengo will not be given an APAC North license for 2021, with them presumably set to be replaced by another (likely Japanese) roster for the league.
To understand what happened, here is the series of events in chronological order:
The initial accusations surrounding Nora-Rengo and kizoku come to light. This includes mispayment claims from three ex-R6 members -- a player, coach, and analyst -- while another analyst claimed kizoku was spending the company's money for his "own personal gain".
Outside of R6, Nora-Rengo's Valorant roster left due to $10,000 in missing payment, and a player from the KNIVES OUT team claimed kizoku threatened to "use my friends to make sure you never work in this industry again". Finally, an unspecified ex-member of the org claimed "Tens of thousands of dollars per month" worth of salaries had not been paid to the players while another ex-staff member also claimed they had never been paid their wages.
Four days later, Kizoku stepped down as CEO of Nora-Rengo and as the Manager of the R6S team. He, however, remained as the owner of the organisation.
While officially due to a leaked voice call in which kizoku yelled at a player, this was also forced by an agreement with Ubisoft that Nora-Rengo could keep its APAC North license and R6Share skin as long as kizoku was not involved in the team.
[Notice to everyone]
Thank you for your support for a long time
A full translation of this Tweet can be read here.
Akidog, a previous analyst for the R6S team and friend of kizoku, officially takes over as CEO. SiegeGG later interviewed him about the new role ahead of Nora-Rengo's relegation game in which he claimed: "Nora-Rengo will be back".
Four members of the R6 team leave Nora-Rengo, with the fifth leaving two weeks later. With Ar7hur also leaving a few months prior, this leaves the team with no players or staff to their name.
Four people will withdraw from the Nora-Rengo.
Each player is a player who has made a great contribution to the Nora-Rengo.
I'm really thankful to you.
We pray for the success of the players in the future.
Due to Nora-Rengo not having a valid roster to compete in the 2021 Season, the organisation is informed that on February 1st its R6Share skin will leave the store. Nora-Rengo must thus provide Ubisoft with proof of a valid roster by February 12th or lose its 2021 spot.
Nora-Rengo agrees to sign the Korean OhHamMa roster, which includes two ex-SCARZ members who played in the 2020 APAC North League (this had already been leaked due to Uplay name changes). SCARZ had been relegated last season to DWG KIA, leading to a partial breakup into this lineup.
Two days prior to this, Nora-Rengo had made their first entry into Korea with the pickup of a Korean Valorant player with plans to make a full Korean lineup.
As well as this, two days later Nora-Rengo also officially signs the Indian coach of VBM to work with this Korean roster, marking the first time someone from the South Asia region had joined a pro-tier team.
Kizoku states he has taken over as CEO of Nora-Rengo once again following the resignation of Akidog due to a "conflict of interest".
This comes three weeks after Nora-Rengo tweeted out a public appeal against death threats that were being sent to Akidog's pregnant wife since the exit of the Nora-Rengo R6 roster:
It seems that the wife of one of our representatives, @akidog_nR, is continuously receiving DMs asking her to surrender her child, to give birth to a handicapped person, or to have an abortion. We will deal with this strictly.
While sending proof of the OhHamMa signing to Ubisoft, Nora-Rengo sent an apparently unsigned document to Ubisoft listing kizoku as CEO.
Two days later, Ubisoft states that as kizoku has officially rejoined the organization as CEO and is actively signing the new lineup, he has broken their agreement with Ubisoft to separate from the team as mentioned above. Due to this, Nora-Rengo is not granted a license for the 2021 League and the planned roster signing is not going as expected.
This means that as things stand, the Nora-Rengo organization will not be competing in the APAC North Season, or any top-tier national leagues for the 2021 season. As well as this, their R6Share skin will not be returning to the store.
It is currently unknown who will be replacing them in APAC North, with the most likely contenders being either Lag Gaming, which has since picked up the ex-NR lineup, or EVA:e -- the esports division of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime show -- which competed in the APAC North relegations against Nora-Rengo.
Either way, this seems to be the end of the Nora-Rengo organisation's involvement in R6 Esports.
This ends a legacy that at a point saw the team sit as one of the best in the world following semi-final finishes at both the Season 8 Finals and 2019 Six Invitational. Their dramatic and drastic fall from the top since is something which the Japanese scene is only now recovering from, thanks to Cyclops Athlete Gaming's (CAG) standout performances.
With the R6 Esports scene maturing into a more professional atmosphere, Nora-Rengo will hopefully be the last big-name organisation to try and get away with what seems like greedy practices that do little but hurt the players involved.
The Nora-Rengo roster has since joined Lag Gaming and made its debut on February 7th with a win over Reiwa Gaming to qualify for the Japan National Season 3 Finals on March 6th.