First Strike Will Be the First Official Riot-Run Valorant Esports Tournament
Riot has pulled back the curtain on the successor to the successful Valorant Ignition Series – called Valorant First Strike, these will be the first Riot produced events for the new hit FPS Valorant.
Riot Takes the Valorant Esports Reins
Riot’s First Strike events will be a global set of tournaments, composed of multiple regional finals taking place across North America, Europe, CIS, Turkey, Asia, Oceania, Brazil, and the Middle East. Each of these regions will host a series of merit-based qualifiers, resulting in multiple, regional Riot-produced First Strike Finals which will run from December 3-6.
“VALORANT is a deeply competitive title with global appeal and the necessary elements to become the next premier esport,” said Whalen Rozelle, Senior Director of Esports at Riot Games. “First Strike will provide our thriving competitive ecosystem with the platform to showcase their greatness, build regional legacy, and a foundation that will support the esport for years to come.”
Regional qualifiers will be run through online tournaments operated by premier esports organizations, likely mirroring the organizers of the Ignition Series, though Riot did not confirm which teams or organizers they would be working within the release. Riot says that both professional teams and amateur teams will be able to qualify for these events, but has not specified if invites will be given out to higher performing organizations from the Ignition Series just yet.
“Esports remains one of the best investments we can make to support our community for the long term,” said Anna Donlon, Executive Producer of VALORANT. “As we’ve already seen from the Ignition Series, there’s a huge demand and hunger for VALORANT to be played at a professional level, and we’re so excited to be starting that journey with fans, players, and organizations. As a development team, supporting the competitive world of VALORANT is one of our top priorities, and we are committed to this journey.”
The Valorant Ignition Series has helped propel Valorant esports to become one of the world’s fastest-growing esports, with viewership that’s gone up with each successive Ignition Series events. The Ignition Series has led to commitments from many top esports organizations and has even attracted top talent from CSGO, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Paladins, and other top FPS titles. While talent has yet to be fully farmed from Valorant itself, many grassroots organizations are also cropping up around the title.
Another Step Towards Riot Control
While this is ultimately a good sign for Riot’s Valorant as an esport, it does raise some eyebrows. Many expected that the community-run aspect of Valorant may last for some time, but it appears that Riot is not content to just sit on their laurels and let the community run things. While this is not a fully closed off league system like the early days of the LCS, it’s another step in that direction, and in the direction of eventual franchising.
It’s too soon to tell if Riot will pull on that particular lever anytime soon, but should the First Strike tournament prove to be wildly successful, we could see it happen as soon as mid-2021, though Riot has not yet indicated that this is a possibility.