Riot Games to implement VALORANT partnership system in 2023
VALORANT’s esports format is about to undergo a significant overhaul. Riot Games announced their plans to shake up the VALORANT competitive environment by introducing a partnership system in 2023. The new VALORANT Champions Tour will replace Riot’s current pseudo-open circuit from 2021.
VALORANT is now functioning on an open circuit. It’s been like this since the VALORANT Champions Tour in 2021. In 2023, the game will convert to a new partnership system. The new approach will pay teams a stipend. Riot will cooperate with particular esports groups to provide financial support, unlike in Overwatch, where teams ‘buy in’ to the league.
The new VALORANT partnership system will allow teams to directly cooperate with Riot on esports content for VALORANT. Two global Masters tournaments and Champions will still be open to the top teams from each league. In addition, Riot Games will pick a set number of long-term partner teams for entry into the new leagues under this new model.
New VALORANT system
Unlike the franchised Overwatch League and League Championship Series, Riot will provide select teams with financial support to form a partnership with the company. These teams will subsequently play in new regional international LAN events.
For a chance to compete at global tournaments like Masters and Champions, Riot will sponsor three international leagues across Asia, Europe, and the Americas to face each other. When possible, the leagues will be hosted on LAN with live audiences.
North America, Latin America, and Brazil will be represented in the first league. The second will include Europe, Russia, Turkey, and MENA teams. The final league will have Southeast Asia, Korea, and Oceania. Select Riot-affiliated teams will be able to work on esports-branded content solely in VALORANT.
Riot will pick teams through an application procedure starting this year based on “a track record of building great esports experiences, developing players, and can meaningfully contribute to the long-term growth of VALORANT esports,”
The criteria are still vague, but the best hypothesis is that the selected teams might also be franchised in League of Legends.
Riot continues to host regional tournaments
While Riot’s international leagues will be the pinnacle of professional gaming, there will still be lower-level competition. ERLs, as well as national and regional competitions, will remain a part of the Riot calendar. VALORANT Regional Leagues, introduced earlier this year across Europe, will continue to be hosted by Riot.
As an added bonus, Riot has unveiled a new competitive in-client game style intended to serve as a stepping stone to the domestic leagues. Complementary to the current ranking system, this game mode will provide players with an additional goal to work towards outside of ranked play. The strongest teams in the new model will be able to battle against the finest players in their own domestic leagues.
The main VALORANT circuit will operate in early 2023 after some adjustments through the end of September. So, teams will have a dedicated offseason to reorganize their lineups and prepare for the next season. The majority of the year will be closed, although the fall and winter will be relatively open. All Game Changers, ERLs, and 3rd party events will likely be held here.