What’s Next for the Future of Valorant Esports?

by in Valorant | Sep, 3rd 2020

It’s been exactly three months since Valorant’s release, and its esports potential is still the main topic surrounding its competitive sphere. It’s been this way long before the game had even been released – prominent names in the industry have been discussing Valorant esports future while the game was still in beta.

Fast-forward to early September, some folks think the game is underperforming because it didn’t manage to live up to its pre-launch potential. While that is true, there’s a number of factors that played a key role in that, and surprisingly enough, many suggest Valorant esports future is still as bright as they come.

Allow me to elaborate:

Valorant Esports Future Potential Explained

First things first, you must understand that Valorant was meant to be the next best thing in the esports industry ever since its devs made their first line of code for the game…. Long before Project A days. That said, it has an imperative of success! It doesn’t necessarily have to become the greatest esports title of all times, but Riot Games and everyone else involved in bringing Valorant to the masses will be disappointed (and most likely in trouble) if the game fails to attract a proper player base.

Luckily, Riot Games is making all the right moves out there, effectively attracting a bunch of top-tier esports organizations to make their way into Valorant’s competitive scene. The game itself is absolutely phenomenal, gameplay-wise. There are still issues regarding its spectator mode and viewership entertainment, but I’m sure the smart folks over at Riot Games will polish that out.

Riot Games Making all the Right Moves

It takes no genius to understand what a powerhouse Riot Games is! And we’re not just talking about the gaming spectrum but the esports sphere too. For those of you who are not in the know, Riot Games is responsible for League of Legends, the game that pushed esports into the mainstream. Riot Games is the company that made esports into the behemoth we all know and love, so it’s safe to say they know what they are doing.

League of Legends is not the only example of Riot Games’ esports know-how. Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics is enjoying a fair share of success too. Later today, TFT Galaxies Championships is set to start, featuring $200,000 in prize money and bringing forth the best TFTers from all around the world.

Riot Games made all the right moves with Valorant too! Even though many doubted their Twitch beta key drop system, it proved to be a massive success, not just hyping the game up but luring potential players into watching the action live on Twitch. Sure, this system did end up skewing the post-launch viewership numbers, but it’s nothing Valorant won’t push through and continue to flourish. 

The Game is Entertaining and Well-Balanced

When talking about Valorant esports future, we have to say a thing or two about how the game plays. And, quite frankly, the game is absolutely awesome. It has the perfect balance between abilities and good old shooting. The tactical segment is important too, especially at higher ELO and competitive play, but it doesn’t hurt the game’s spectator fun-factor.

Most importantly, though, the game is well-balanced, not just in terms of abilities and shooting but in terms of agents and maps too. There are four maps in the game at the moment, as well as a total of eleven agents. They all have their place in the game, they’re all viable (more or less), and pose an equal threat on a level playing field.  

Viewership Numbers Suggest a Solid Start

We mentioned in the intro that Valorant failed to live up to its pre-launch potential. People thought the game’s popularity would skyrocket following its official release, but that didn’t happen. I mean, it was never going to happen – popularity doesn’t magically appear after a game goes from being in beta to officially released.

Why didn’t Valorant keep its pre-launch viewership numbers? Well, Riot Games’ power move regarding Twitch beta key drops did its thing. As soon as Riot Games shut down the drops, the real viewership numbers started popping up…. and needless to say, they were pretty low.

If you take a look at Valorant peak viewership data on Esports Charts, you’ll see that the four most-watched events all happened prior to the game’s launch. The fifth and sixth events were hosted after the game’s launch, and they should be the events we take into account when talking about Valorant esports future.

Faze Clan Invitational, a five-day event featuring $50,000 in prize money, had roughly 170,000 peak viewers. The average viewership number hovered around the 64,000 mark, which is nothing to be ashamed of… especially considering the game’s been out for just three months.

To put things into perspective, RLCS Season X Fall NA 1st Event had roughly the same numbers

So yeah, it’s all a matter of expectations and perspective. Valorant was always going to be under extra scrutiny simply because it’s made by Riot Games and the likes of CSGO and Overwatch are its direct competitors. Realistically speaking, though, people still have unrealistic (no pun intended) expectations regarding Valorant esports future. 

People want to see numbers closer to those of CSGO and League of Legends, completely forgetting the fact that both of those belong to the very top of the esports ecosystem, and that a brand-new IP such as Valorant will need years and years for a mere chance of reaching the big boys.

Valorant Esports Events Thus Far | Key Takeaways

Valorant esports future is looking pretty bright if we are to judge it by the sheer number of events that have been hosted already. As stated earlier, Riot Games made all the right moves both pre-launch and post-launch, starting from the Twitch beta key drops all the way to supporting Valorant Ignition Series and heavily advertising the game at every corner.

Such a massive number of Valorant events must’ve been the biggest incentive for top-tier esports organizations like Team SoloMid, G2 Esports, and Cloud9 to join the developing Valorant scene. And they’re not the only ones – more prominent esports organizations are bound to follow alongside former pros coming from games like CSGO and Overwatch.

What are the key takeaways from Valorant esports events held thus far?

Well, there was a mix and mash of success, that’s for sure! The events kicked off in early April thanks to the Twitch Rivals series and had impressive numbers to show off for the entire duration of regional events. Looking back at the action, though, it’s pretty clear that the viewership boom was a direct result of Riot Games’ power move – Twitch beta key drops. Mind you, back then the game was still in beta. June 2nd was the release date, followed by another set of Twitch Rivals regional events just a few days later.

What started off as a booming bubble was quick to pop and retain only small fragments of its past glory. And we’re not just talking about the viewership numbers; we’re talking about the quantity and quality of the game’s competitions.

Valorant Ignition Series to the Rescue

Ever since Riot Games’ Valorant ignition Series announcement, Valorant fans knew they were looking at the series that would push the brand-new title up, up and away. And it was a relative success, for the most part. We’ve seen eighteen Valorant Ignition Series events thus far, bringing forth more than $400,000 in prize money.

While Valorant Ignition Series did help the game attract more players and teams, and pushed its competitive scene up a notch, it will take more than that to bring Valorant near the top of the esports food chain. However, with the ongoing pandemic and all, it might be tricky for Valorant to reach its potential when LAN events are still off-limits, for the most part. Online event will have to suffice, I guess…

The Scene Needs More Top-Tier Events

If third-party event organizers won’t step their game up, it’s on Riot Games to continue investing in the development of their brand-new esports title. They already stated that they’ll let things flow naturally, but the game is in desperate need of another major event so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them step in.

Of course, I’m not rooting for a LAN event of any sort. It’s still too risky and would probably do more harm than good. Still, esports organizations like G2, Faze Clan and T1 can only do so much as far as event organization is concerned. The industry’s big boys need to show up and, hopefully with the help of Riot Games, present us with the biggest Valorant esports event yet!

Valorant Esports Future | What’s Next?

With that in mind, it’s about time to wrap everything up!

Valorant esports potential is definitely there! The game had massive exposure even before it was released. Post-release, people were expecting it to retain the massive Twitch viewership fueled by the beta key drops. Needless to say, that didn’t happen – the viewership numbers fell down and people started doubting Riot Games’ creation.

However, the viewership numbers aren’t catastrophic. Sure, they aren’t at the level of CSGO, Dota 2, or League of Legends, but expecting that from a brand-new game, a brand-new IP, is a bit silly, don’t you think?

Personally, I respect Riot Games and their passive approach with Valorant. They will let the game develop at its own pace without forcing it to become an immediate success. They won’t (hopefully) start pumping tons of money into it, hoping it’ll attract more partnerships. They’ll remain passive and jump in in times of need.

Seeing the number of professional organizations making their way into Valorant, and witnessing a huge influx of ex-CSGO stars flooding the scene, I honestly think nothing can endanger the future of Valorant esports. It won’t be a massive success right off the bat, but it will find its place under the dream sky of the esports industry.


Leave a Reply