Valorant Champions Tour Brings Valorant’s Esports to the Next Level
Riot has revealed their plans for Valorant’s esports scene in 2021 and they are looking to be a lot more inclusive than originally thought – without a firm franchise system and perhaps most closely mirroring Valve’s system for the Dota 2 Majors and the International.
The Valorant Champions Tour will feature three levels of competition: Challengers, Masters, and Champions. Challenger events will be run by organizers that fans have become used to seeing from the First Strike events, such as Nerd Street Gamers. Masters events will be larger taking place only three times a year, without specification from Riot on who will run them (the presumption here is that Riot will run these themselves.) Lastly, the Valorant Champions Tour will function as the “Worlds” for Valorant, with a two-week-long tournament with the top 16 teams participating from around the world.
“The season will kick off in late January with regional Challenger events across the globe, Riot said. “Each Challenger stage will consist of three tournaments and a final taking place over six weeks. Each tournament will feature eight teams who will earn their spots through open qualifiers. Teams that do well in Challenger tournaments will then qualify into Challenger Finals. The Challenger Final tournament will feature the best eight teams and will award prizing and qualification slots into the next Masters event. While COVID-19 continues to impact international travel, Masters will be limited to regional events, similar to First Strike. During the stages where Masters tournaments remain regional, they will use the eight-team format of Challenger Finals. We’re eager to pivot Masters events into international LANS as soon as possible and will continue to monitor the situation closely for a safe time to do so.”
Riot Wants to Build Valorant Into a Global Esport
“The Champions Tour is our effort to grow VALORANT into a global esport worthy of your fandom,” Riot said in their press release for the 2021 tournament series. “The expanded competition calendar will provide the framework for stars to rise and teams to make a name for themselves – on both the international and regional stages. Fans will get to see how their local talent stacks up against each other, and then how they measure upon the global stage.”
Riot has tapped Red Bull and Secret Lab as founding partners of the tournament series, with more sure to come. A great start sponsorship wise for what’s still a burgeoning esports title. This just goes to show the continued prowess Riot’s esports department has picked up in monetizing their games, something they had been criticized for until only just a few years agp.
“The initial founding partners committing to the VALORANT Champions Tour and the First Strike tournament will be Red Bull and Secretlab,” Riot continued, elaborating on their choice. “Both have been long-time supporters of esports operated by Riot Games and will play a vital role in growing VALORANT from its foundational years. Additionally Red Bull has a storied history of developing unique community-focused tournaments to elevate esports players like Red Bull Solo Q. More partners for the VALORANT Champions Tour will be announced throughout 2021.”
Riot appears committed to the long-term growth and success of Valorant esports, but the question still remains – how long will it take for the company to completely take over the scene as they did in League of Legends? If they stick to this format it could have massive benefits for the esports scene as a whole, rather than just Valorant as third-party organizers also benefit massively from their infrastructure. However, Riot themselves would benefit from having a franchised system, with fees and other things to be collected.