Riot Games has officially laid out its plans for an ambitious VALORANT esports ecosystem set for a 2023 launch. The “future of competitive VALORANT” will consist of an in-game Path to Pro system, expanded domestic leagues and Game Changers events, and new “premier-level international leagues.”
The new top-tier leagues will see the best teams in the world featuring the best players in the world competing against each other for spots at global events, which currently take the form of international LANs known as VCT Masters events.
Are these international leagues franchised leagues like the LCS and LEC that are operated by Riot? Who will be able to participate? What’s the format going to be like? We do our best here to try and answer as many questions as we can about the 2023 international VALORANT “premier leagues.”
What are the regions for each league?
There will be three international leagues for each of the three super regions, which will each consist of current regions that will be grouped together.
- The Americas league: North America, Brazil, Latin America
- The EMEA league: Europe, CIS, Turkey, MENA,
- The Asia/Oceania league: Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Oceania.
At this point, China is not a part of the Asia league as VALORANT is still yet to be officially released in the country.
Are these franchised leagues? Will there be relegation?
The premier VALORANT leagues will be similar to franchised leagues in the sense that participating teams will be part of a “long-term partnership model,” with teams that will be “fully invested.” Riot says this system and others like it will ensure higher player salaries and more robust support systems.
Unlike leagues such as the LCS, LEC, Overwatch League, or Call of Duty League, however, teams will financial stipends “in return for their investment in the growing ecosystem” rather than pay large franchising fees.
Riot has made no mention of relegation or promotion when it comes to the international premier leagues, and the wording in the statements on those leagues and the regional leagues lean toward a lack of a promotion/relegation system. This hasn’t been confirmed yet and is subject to change.
How do teams join the premier leagues? Which teams will join?
Riot will begin a “team application process” in order to select the partnered teams that will participate in the international premier leagues. They will look for teams “who have a track record of building great esports experiences, developing players, and can meaningfully contribute to the long-term growth of VALORANT esports.”
In North America, a group of organizations with a strong chance to get in likely includes Cloud9, OpTic, Sentinels, 100 Thieves, TSM, and others. In EMEA, organizations including G2, Fnatic, Team Liquid, and Acend will have a strong case.