Valorant Champions Tour is a year-long league that determines the champion for that particular year. Moreover, a VCT cycle starts with Qualifiers, Challengers and climbs up to Masters and finally to the Champions.
Players participate from regions like North America, South America, Europe, CIS, Asia, Oceania, etc. The Qualifiers are played in an online mode, whereas Challengers are played in a hybrid mode depending on the region. However, Masters and Champions are Lan events; each event is played in different cities worldwide. Each year consists of multiple Challengers, 2 Masters, and 1 Champions event.
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VCT 2022 vs. VCT 2023
Valorant Champions Tour 2022 and previous years have been open events for every player and team. Furthermore, a team at the grassroots level can climb up the ladder and eventually win the Champions. However, moving into 2023 and beyond, not every team will be able to compete for Champions or even Masters. Only 30 franchised teams can compete in international events, whereas others have to compete in new Ascension Tournaments.
Valorant Franchising is a partnership program for the leagues played from 2023 and beyond. The partnership model inspires the franchising model that Riot Games Inc. introduced for their League of Legends title, the League Champions series, which allowed Riot Games to connect with selected teams to achieve long-term vision and stability in the ecosystem. However, in the League of Legends ecosystem, esports organizations had to pay for partnerships, unlike Valorant, where these teams will be paid by Riot Games in the form of a stipend each year.
Benefits of Valorant Franchising
Each franchised team and organization is set to receive a stipend of $600K per year, allowing organizations to provide their players with better infrastructure and life.
Each player in the league is set to receive a minimum salary of $50K for Americas, €50K for EMEA, and ₩67,000,000 for Pacific each year or equivalent, excluding the food and accommodation or bonuses that the organization will provide. There will be no maximum salary cap.
All the franchised teams will have their slots locked for the league, so they don’t have to play regional qualifiers or challengers but rather play respective leagues.
The players and teams will be protected from poaching and provide a transfer window to acquire and release players during and after each season. Hence, protecting the rights of each player and team.
Valorant Champions Tour – Structure
The Valorant Champions Tour is a 4-level pyramid, right from the grass root to the most competitive experience in the Valorant world. These levels are In-game qualifiers, Domestic Leagues and Game Changers, International Leagues, and at the peak of the pyramid are the Global events.
Path to Pro
Riot games envision connecting the most competitive hungry players directly to their path to pro and introducing an in-game competitive mode that will allow players to build teams and compete at the peak of in-game action and beyond Radiant, which will also allow teams and organizations to scout for most promising talents from their regions.
This in-game competitive experience will be known as Premier and was launched in Brazil for alpha testing. Moreover, in the current situation, the system consists of 60 percent of the features that Riot intends to have when the premier mode goes live around the globe.
Premier Mode Images
Premier Alpha Testing
Premier Alpha Testing will include the following features:
- Team Generation and Creation
- Server Load testing
- Map Pick-Ban System (Tournament mode)
- Scoring for qualification
- Health check for Matchmaking and Queue system
- Bug fixing
Teams qualifying from the in-game qualifiers will be seeded into VRL (Valorant Regional Leagues) of respective regions competing with other teams from the same region. Players and esports enthusiasts have seen VRL experience during the 2022 VCT cycle in Europe. Moreover, allowing the regional talent to grow and expand into the most competitive experience of valorant.
With the 2022 cycle ending, more than 40 Game Changers regional and international events provide women in the Valorant ecosystem with opportunities to grab the glory. In 2023, Riot aims to invest more in the Game Changers, leveling the competitiveness with the ultimate goal of seeing all genders represented at every level of competition.
In 2023, the competitive ecosystem will be divided into three leagues: Americas, EMEA, and Pacific. Each league featured ten selected teams in the inaugural year of franchising. Moreover, these teams will be settled in the selected city of the respective region and will play weekly for the opportunity to earn a slot in international events.
Teams qualified from each league will be seeded into the international event, competing at the international lan event called Masters. There will be 2 Masters events per year except for 2023, where the first Masters event will be replaced by a kick-off event in São Paulo, City in Brazil. After that, teams from Masters will qualify for the end-of-the-year Grand event called Champions, concluding the VCT season.
VCT Off//Season Events
Valorant Champions Tour ends with Champions, but the Valorant ecosystem wouldn’t go dry. During the Off//Season, third-party organizers can host events during the anticipated roster changes. Riot Games aims to allow players and teams to practice with new changes while building for the next season of VCT. Moreover, with collaborations with tournament organizers to create unique off//season tournaments with open qualifiers, show matches, and invitational events, which Riot Games Inc. will amplify.
Valorant International Leagues 2023 and Beyond
The VCT will be divided into three international league regions: the Americas, EMEA, and the Pacific. 30 Selected teams will play in International leagues to qualify for Masters and Champions. Furthermore, each region will have Regional Leagues and Challengers that will lead them to the Ascension tournament.
Moreover, for the first year, there are 30 teams selected as partners, with an increment of 3 teams each year, one from each region. Riot Games have selected teams that share values and visions similar to theirs. This formal partnership will allow Riot Games to enhance the digital experience and create a profoundly engaging esports experience for the valorant community.
VCT will host the three international leagues in a few of the world’s biggest cities.
The cities are:
The Americas League will be held in Los Angeles, a City in California, United States of America.
EMEA League will be held in Berlin, the Capital of Germany.
Pacific League will be held in Seoul, the Capital of South Korea, Republic of Korea.
Valorant Franchised Teams
Teams selected for the franchise league system underwent a very competitive and robust selection process. The selection spanned months, and it was a three steps process. The first step was a written application followed by in-depth interviews and financial reviews.
During the selection process, Riot Games were looking for three things in an idol partner organization:
- It shares the same values with Riot Games, like fans first ideology, celebrates diverse communities, and supports pro.
- Organizations have great rosters, compelling content, engaging branding, and a strong connection with fans.
- Organizations committed to long-term goals and sustainability in valorant esports for growth.
Following the selection process, Riot Games select 30 teams, ten teams from each league which are as follows:
VCT Americas League: 100 Thieves, Sentinels, Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, NRG Esports, Leviatán, KRÜ Esports, LOUD, FURIA, MIBR.
VCT EMEA League: FNATIC, Team Liquid, Team Vitality, Karmine Corp, Giants Gaming, Team Heretics, KOI, Natus Vincere, BBL Esports, FUT Esports.
VCT Pacific League: ZETA DIVISION, DetonatioN Gaming, DRX, Gen.G, T1, Paper Rex, Rex Regum Qeon, Talon Esports, Global Esports, Team Secret.
Valorant Team Structure and Rules
Valorant Esports published a long set of rules and guidelines for VCT 2023. Here are a few significant rules:
- Minimum of 6 players on the roster.
- One reserve player, at least.
- The roster can not exceed ten players.
- Team members will be allowed if they are born before March 26, 2005.
- Players that played in VCT Challengers 2022 main events and have birth dates between March 26, 2005, and March 26, 2006, will be exempted under their parent’s or legal guardian’s authorization.
- Players with dual citizenship will be allowed and considered in one region only.
- A team must have a general manager, one head coach at the least, and a maximum of three coaches.
- Teams must maintain a minimum of four players from the same region in the starting roster.
- Teams can import one player at a maximum from different regions for the main roster.
- No player coaches; the same person will not be allowed to play two roles simultaneously.
- Teams can contract a player for a minimum of one season and a maximum of 4 seasons.
Valorant Champions Tour – Tier 2 Scenario
2023 will kick off Riot Games’ new franchised league system. However, the publisher is committed to supporting the tier 2 and tier 3 players and teams, which will allow the young and upcoming talent to grow and expand into the most competitive experience of the game.
Each region will consist of sub-region-based challengers and top upcoming talent that couldn’t make it to the franchising team. Furthermore, this will allow teams to compete in a Valorant ecosystem that failed to secure a slot in franchising. Winners and qualified teams from an in-game system or regional qualifiers will be seeded into Challengers of respective regions depending upon the region they represent.
Subregions competing in Challengers
Americas: North America, Latam North, Brazil, and Latam South.
EMEA: Northern Europe, Southern Europe (Italy & Portugal), France & Benelux, Dach (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Turkey, Easter Europe, and MENA.
Pacific: South Asia(Includes India), Thailand, Malaysia & Singapore, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei & Hongkong, Philippines, Indonesia, and Oceania.
*EMEA subjected to change
The Franchising League will consist of 30 partnered teams in the inaugural year. Moreover, with each successive year, Riot will add three teams to the franchise league system. These teams will be the winners of the Ascension tournaments and represent one from each region of the Americas, EMEA, and Pacific.
However, this incremental slot will be capped at 14 teams in each region by 2027. The promoted teams from each region will be awarded a 2-year slot in the franchising system, granting equal chances to qualify for Masters and Champions along with the same league benefits.
The teams promoted will be dropped back into the Ascension tournaments following the two years, allowing new teams to replace the dropped slot. Therefore, starting in 2026, Riot will promote two teams per year into the international league.
Valorant Champions Tour – Schedule
The Valorant Champions Tour will begin with Challengers Split 1 in January of 2023, along with the inaugural Kick-off event in February that will replace the first Masters event only for the first year. Moreover, the Kick-off tournament will be followed by the International league split, and Challengers Split 2.
Towards the end of May, Franchised teams will play Masters 2023. Last Chance Qualifiers, along with tier 2 Ascension tournaments, will take place in July. Riot Games will conclude the VCT cycle with Champions 2023 running between August and September 2023. Following Champions, the Off//Season will commence with Game Changers Championship and fill the rest of the year.
Valorant Champions Tour is Riot Games’ aspiring new esports model aiming towards long-term sustainability and supporting the pros. This new esports model will feature more matches and higher competitiveness while ensuring the integrity and spirit of the game. Moreover, they are focusing on protecting the rights of players and organizations with proper structuring.
With a new 4-tier structure, franchising system, in-game competitive mode, and Riot games involvement in team structuring moving into 2023 and beyond, Valorant Champions Tour looks promising.