Wider reach, but more connected
The first big change for this year is the removal of the 7 regions (NA, EMEA, Asia-Pacific, Korea, Japan, Brazil and LATAM), with the team instead split into 3 international regions – Americas, EMEA and Pacific.
There are 10 teams per region – with the Americas League playing in Los Angeles, the EMEA League in Berlin and the Pacific League in Seoul.
Each international region will have its own International League (replacing the Challengers), which are used to qualify for the Masters and Champions tournaments.
The teams that haven’t qualified after Masters, will head to the Last Chance Qualifiers to try and make it the season-ending Champions.
Unlike other esports leagues, VCT Champions qualification is not done on ranking points, it is solely down to performances at the key events during the season.
Qualification to Masters is secured by finishing in the top 3 at the respective International Leagues, with an extra slot going to League that is victorious in the LOCK//IN tournament at the start of the season.
Progression and inclusion
It’s great to have these 30 teams locked in for the season, and we will see them battle it out over the seven tournaments (LOCK/IN, 3 Internationals, Masters, Last Chance Qualifiers and Champions), but where does that leave other teams who want a shot at the big time?
Well, the VCT isn’t a closed shop, with spots available to semi-pro orgs to qualify for next year’s action.
There are 23 minor leagues across the three international regions, and the top Challenger teams qualify for the Ascension tournament in their respective leagues.
The winners of each Ascension tournament then qualify for the 2024 and 2025 International Leagues.
It doesn’t stop there, with Riot Games also aware of promoting women in esports. A women’s circuit – Game Changers - will take place throughout the year in various regions.
The best teams from each region compete in an international event at the end of the year.
Last year, there was over 40 tournaments in the Game Changers series – with the Game Changers Championship the most watched female esports event in 2022, as well as the highest female event in Valorant history. It generated 4.45m hours watches, which was 23% of the female esports metric for the year.
The 30 orgs have met up at Valorant LOCK//IN in Rio to celebrate the start of the season, and to find out who has put in the work during the off season.
$100,000 is up for grabs for the winners, with the tournament just a straight knockout, as the orgs look to secure their region an extra slot for Masters.
Brazil has been one of the fastest growing esports hubs in the world, with the CS:GO IEM Rio Major taking place there last year, the incredibly popular CBLoL as well as many successful franchises including paiN Gaming.
The title at LOCK//IN went to Fnatic, defeating home favourites LOUD in a 3-2 victory. The global image of the Valorant Champions Tour was further showcased with the losing semi-finalists being the Korean DRX and Ukrainian outfit Natus Vincere.
With this global reach and its immense popularity, the Valorant Champions Tour presents a fantastic opportunity for brands to reach Gen Z.
The audience is incredibly engaged, and we've seen brands such as Verizon, Prime Gaming, AWS and Red Bull all take advantage of this with sponsorship deals with VCT.
Add to this the various brands who have sponsorships with the various esports organisations, like that of Asos with Fnatic, you can see how much value there is in appearing in so many massive tournaments.