Valorant developer Riot Games’ partnership plans for the 2023 season promises a bright future for organisations which successfully cement their place in the ever-growing competitive FPS game’s esports future. For the EMEA region, which boasts a strong Tier-2 presence with the Valorant Regional Leagues, there have, however, been signs that there could be teething issues heading into the new format.
Following the announcement that it would be partnering up with VCT side LDN UTD, major organisation OG will be discontinuing support for its VRL France side at the end of the 2022 season. While this could open the door for more of EMEA’s biggest names to dip out, especially if they don’t make the cut for VCT partnership, EMEA esports head Daniel Ringland tells The Loadout that he is confident the VRL system will continue to grow and become “an even more compelling prospect in its own right.”
Having kicked off at the beginning of the year, the VRL initiative originally saw the creation of eight regional leagues covering CIS, DACH, Eastern Europe, France, MENA, Northern Europe, Spain, and Turkey. Stage 1 offered the opportunity for the best of the best from across these leagues the opportunity to fight for a spot in the VCT itself, while Stage 2 will see the top team from each region duke it out to be crowned VRL champion.
For Ringland, the dream is to see this system emulate the successes of League of Legends’ own European Regional Leagues. “If you look at the success of the ERL system for League of Legends, you will see both big orgs and known players participating in the national leagues,” Ringland says.
— VALORANT Champions Tour EMEA (@valesports_emea) July 21, 2022
Over in League, crowd-drawers like Karmine Corp, FC Barcelona Esports, and KOI have become mainstays in its Tier-2 ecosystem. Of course, there are also plenty of LEC academy sides there, too, which could be a hint at Riot’s own hopes for Valorant as the esport continues to grow.
For now, though, all eyes will remain on 2023’s VCT partnership applications. Back in June, Excel Esports COO Tim Reichert told The Loadout that the VRL Northern Europe representative would too be pursuing a spot in the VCT. The British-based organisation is just one of over 150 teams Ringland says threw their names in the hat – confirming a report made by Dot Esports’ George Geddes last month.
Geddes has since reported that Riot’s shortlist process is well underway, with North American organisations like Cloud9 and Team SoloMid making the cut. Over in EMEA, however, there hasn’t been much movement yet, though he notes that G2 Esports is trying to snag one of the Americas international league spots as part of its global expansion.