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With the original announcement of Riot Games’ VALORANT heading in the direction of exclusive international leagues, the fear was that VALORANT would be left with no true path to pro. However, on Tuesday, Riot Games put those fears to rest with its announcement of a revamped VALORANT Challengers circuit for 2023 and beyond called VCT Challengers.

This new system, set to kick off next year, will not only give aspiring pro players a way to play the game at high levels below the new international leagues but also give players a chance to qualify for these leagues through an announced promotion system.

The three international leagues – EMEA, Americas and Pacific – will have more than 20 different Challenger leagues under them that will feed into the Challengers Ascension tournament where the best Challenger league teams will play against each other for a spot in one of the international leagues.

A look at how the promotion system will work in VALORANT Champions ’23. | Provided by Riot Games.

In the official announcement, Riot committed to this style of path to pro play for the next six years. Starting with 2024, the 10-team international leagues will expand by one team each year through 2028 with the 10-team international leagues eventually hitting a 14-team cap. Winning that years Challengers Ascension tournament will grant the winning team a two-year stay in their international league. At the end of the two years, they will have to requalify.

The hierarchy of events in the VALORANT competitive eco-system. | Provided by Riot Games.

For players and teams wondering how they can work their way through the ecosystem, it starts with the new in-game competitive system. The official announcement said this is an “in-game experience that seamlessly connects the VCT with VALORANT.” From there the top performers will make it to one of the 20 different Challenger leagues across the world. The next step is that the international leagues and top performers will qualify for international events that will crown the world’s best.

Winning a Challengers Ascension tournament will grant a team a two-year promotion into an international league. | Provided by Riot Games.

The structure can possibly turn around the trend of organizations that have left VALORANT in recent months due to the application process for the international leagues. Organizations that have not made it through the stages of the selection process were left with no choice but to drop their players with no real chance at competing with the best. But now with organic growth through the Challenger series, those organizations as well as completely new ones, may see an opportunity to get back into the scene.