Riot Games announces VALORANT esports overhaul for 2023
Provided by Riot Games

Riot Games announces VALORANT esports overhaul for 2023

The top level of VALORANT will be played through in-person matches between long-term partner teams

Riot Games announced that VALORANT esports is slated for major changes in 2023, with new international leagues in the Americas, Europe and Asia, on Tuesday. Weekly matches within the three leagues will be held on LAN in front of a live audience, health guidelines permitting.

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The best teams from the three leagues will still qualify for two global Masters events and Champions. Also within this new model, Riot Games will select a certain number of long-term partner teams for inclusion in the new leagues. The application and selection process will be executed throughout 2022.

New domestic and Game Changers leagues, and a new in-client competitive game mode, will also roll out alongside these changes as stepping stones for players to reach the premier-level leagues.

VALORANT esports in 2023

Critically, there will be no entry or participation fees for the organizations selected as long-term partners in the new international leagues in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

“We have designed our long-term partnership model for VALORANT so teams can thrive and build their business alongside the overall growth of VALORANT Esports,” Whalen Rozelle, head of esports operations at Riot Games, said in a press release. “Our aim is to free our partners to invest their resources in supporting their pros and growing their fanbases through creating incredible content for fans.”

Teams who meet the selection criteria will also receive an annual stipend from Riot and collaborate on in-game activations and esports-branded products. The amount of this stipend has not been disclosed at this time. The branded products are a precedent set in games like Halo Infinite, Overwatch and, to a lesser extent, Riot Games’ League of Legends, where in-game skins are released to commemorate the winner of the annual World Championship.

The new VALORANT esports model in 2023 looks much more like League of Legends esports than it did previously. Major regional leagues have existed for the game since 2013, but Riot introduced permanent partnerships with orgs in LoL Esports starting in 2017. The franchising system began with a multi-million dollar buy-in for the selected teams.

“Together, all these elements will contribute to a competitive ecosystem that will position VALORANT for its next stage of growth,” John Needham, president of esports at Riot Games, said. “We’ll use everything we learned from the past 10 years with LoL Esports to build an ecosystem that will supercharge VALORANT into the next great multigenerational esport.”

Domestic leagues and in-client competitive mode

VALORANT Competitive 2023
Provided by Riot Games

To support the new international leagues, the Challengers, Game Changers and Regional Leagues system currently in place within the VALORANT Champions Tour will be modified. New domestic leagues will showcase talent who are looking to reach the international leagues.

In addition, Riot has announced a new competitive in-client game mode that will purportedly act as a feeder into the domestic leagues. The game mode will be complementary to the existing ranked leaderboards, giving players another goal outside of ranked play. The best teams in the new mode will be able to compete against talent within their respective domestic leagues.

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Coby Zucker
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.