Riot Games has today revealed some sweeping changes that are coming to Valorant esports in 2023 as it looks to replicate the success that League of Legends’ competitive scene has found.
The first big headline change sees Valorant esports shift to having “three new international leagues featuring week-over-week competition”. This will see three super regions created: the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Riot says that will see the best players regularly go head to head “in LAN settings and in front of live-audiences”, where global restrictions will allow. The annual structure that fans have grown accustomed to with the Valorant Champions Tour isn’t changing much though. The top teams from each of the three leagues qualify for two international Masters events and the end of year world championship, Valorant Champions.
Beneath this top tier of competition will be a swathe of domestic leagues and the Game Changers initiative, which hosts tournaments for women and marginalised genders and will be expanding in 2023.
To encourage more people to get into the competitive side of Valorant, and to give opportunities to all players to one day go pro, a new competitive game mode, separate to Valorant ranked, will give talent the opportunity to make a name for themselves and play against an elite level of opposition.
It seems that Riot is attempting to make a clear path to pro with this new mode, giving aspiring pro players an in-road to the esports scene, while also trying to strengthen and grow the very top of the pyramid where established players and organisations currently sit.
To retain those big name teams and to set Valorant esports up for the long term, Riot will begin a partnership program where it will select teams from each region it deems valuable to the Valorant esports scene and provide them with a number of benefits.
A new era of VALORANT Esports is coming in 2023. Today we want to share a preview of our vision for the future of competitive VALORANT. Watch out for more details and info later this year. https://t.co/cffyX1yo7V pic.twitter.com/Y4khgC6IU6
— VALORANT Champions Tour (@ValorantEsports) April 28, 2022
These include Riot forgoing any kind of entry fees and providing stipends to these organisations to help cover the costs of competing, as well as in-game collaborations where they can distribute branded content. That sounds a lot like esports-themed cosmetics like gun skins to us.
This initiative appears to be the building blocks that will lead to a similar, franchise-style ecosystem that League of Legends esports currently has. Spots in some of LoL esports’ leagues have values well into the tens of millions of dollars, and these competitions attract dozens of big-name sponsors. This is clearly the vision Riot has for Valorant too.
“All these elements will contribute to a competitive ecosystem that will position Valorant for its next stage of growth,” says John Needham, president of esports at Riot. “We want to build the top level of competition that will provide more exciting matches, new events that will thrill live audiences, and engaging experiences for millions of online fans. We’ll use everything we learned from the past 10 years with LoL Esports to build an ecosystem that will supercharge Valorant into the next great multigenerational esport.”
As mentioned earlier, these changes will be put in place for the 2023 season.