Riot Games announced its plans to turn Valorant into a "multigenerational sport in 2023 and beyond," featuring new premier-level, partnered international leagues, domestic leagues, an in-game tournament mode and more.
The new Valorant esports structure is said to feature four distinguished levels of competition in an ecosystem inspired by "everything we learned from the past 10 years in esports."
First and foremost, the most drastic proposed change is that Valorant esports will feature international leagues that will serve as the game's "new premier-level week-over-week competition" between select teams that are "long-term partners" and "fully invested in creating the best fan experience possible."
To sweeten the pot for organizations interested in applying for a partnership, Riot said it will forgo any participation/franchising fees and instead provide financial stipends to the selected teams in return for their investment.
Riot's ideal partner orgs are said to be those that have a "track record of building great esports experiences, developing players and can meaningfully contribute to the long-term growth of Valorant esports."
"In 2017," Riot's announcement post reads, "we introduced a partnership model for League of Legends esports, with the League Championship Series. This model created a formal partnership between a select number of teams and Riot Games, allowing everyone to invest against a unified long-term vision. Since 2017, this model has been adopted for leagues in North America, Europe, China, Latin America, Korea, Brazil, Turkey and across the wider esports industry. Players have benefited from larger salaries and more robust support systems, while teams have been able to plan multiple years into the future.
"With Valorant, we are building today's most thrilling esport alongside the most well-managed, ambitious and exciting organizations in the industry. We will begin a team application process to build this new ecosystem with esports organizations who share our vision."
In 2023, the plan is for Riot to introduce three international leagues of this nature that will include teams from multiple regions based on geographical proximity:
- North America, Latin America and Brazil
- Europe, Russia, Turkey and MENA (Middle East and North Africa)
- Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan, South Asia and Oceania
These international leagues would feature matches played on LAN and in studios with audiences (health and safety permitting) to determine which teams qualify for premier-level global tournaments such as Masters and Champions, which will neighbor the Game Changers Championship.
Right below the tiers of global tournaments and international leagues will see the continuation of investment from Riot in the Game Changers program and support for off-season third-party tournaments, as well as more domestic leagues.
The expanded regional leagues are said to be building off of VCT Challengers, in which higher levels of organized competition will continue to be offered for the best players in each region come 2023.
Path to Pro
Serving as the foundation of the Valorant esports model, Riot mentioned that they will be releasing a new in-game competitive tournament mode to provide the "most competition-hungry players around the world a rewarding challenge beyond reaching Radiant in ranked" — the opportunity to get scouted and qualify for domestic leagues in their region.