Following VALORANT’s successful release and integration into the esports ecosystem, Riot Games has unveiled its new competitive structure for the 2021 season with the introduction of the VALORANT Champions Tour.
The VALORANT Champions Tour is a global competitive structure which will feature a range of tournaments being played in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The format will see teams battle through a pyramid structure in order to be crowned the best VALORANT team at the end of 2021.
“The Champions Tour is our next step to grow VALORANT into a global esport worthy of the passion of our fans,” commented Whalen Rozelle, Senior Director of Esports at Riot Games. “We’ve spent a couple of years now talking to players, teams, fans, prospective partners, and other stakeholders, and we’re extremely excited to launch our first official season. Our focus will be on elevating and showcasing the creative and talented players who are shaping this game across the globe. Fans and players both wanted high stakes competition, and that’s what the VALORANT Champions Tour is designed to do.”
The Champions Tour will be focused around three stages – Challengers, Masters, and Champions – with each stage having its own dedicated tournaments throughout next year. Riot Games has revealed that the Challenger tournaments will be regional, with teams having to battle through open qualifiers in an attempt to progress into the knockouts. The top teams in each regional competition will gain a spot at VALORANT Masters, an international tournament which occurs three times in 2021.
The teams which cumulatively perform the best at the VALORANT Masters events will move on to VALORANT Champions, the title’s grand international competition. Moreover, before Champions there will be a ‘last chance qualifier’ for one remaining place at the global event, taking its total to 16 participants.
Despite just being announced Riot Games has also unveiled that Red Bull and Secretlab have become founding partners of the Champions Tour, highlighting the commerciality of the title’s competitive scene despite being in its infancy. Both partners are no strangers to teaming up with Riot Games as the entities have previously sponsored various League of Legends competitions.
Riot Games also confirmed, whilst speaking to Esports Insider, that it will work with third-party tournament operators for the regional VALORANT Challengers competitions. This is likely to be similar to how the publisher teamed up with the likes of Nerd Street Gamers and Engine Media for Riot Games’ VALORANT First Strike: North American Qualifiers, however, specific details have yet to be revealed.
The VALORANT Ignition Series will also continue to run in 2021, with Riot Games still looking to focus on community competitions to help develop its competitive ecosystem.
Esports Insider says: VALORANT’s esports growth was heavily accelerated due to its ‘First Strike’ competitive structure and so it’s no surprise to see Riot Games announce its 2021 plans immediately. The Champions Tour leans itself to a familiar format with most FPS fans, and the announcement of its Red Bull and Secretlab partnerships highlight the impression commercial partners already have regarding its potential success.