VALORANT Challengers 2023: Riot Games reveals path for tier-2 teams
VALORANT Challengers 2023 will include a new tier two system known as the Valorant Challenger Circuit, which will lead to regional end-of-year tournaments that grant winners access to the game’s international leagues. The system was announced by Riot Games on Tuesday.
With the launch of its Challenger Circuit in 2023, there will be 21 regional leagues worldwide, providing an organized pathway to the international leagues for more teams in more regions. These include the Americas, Europe, the Middle East (also known as EMEA), and Asia-Pacific.
The regional leagues will begin with open qualifiers, followed by two splits of multi-week regular season play. The games will include a playoff tournament in which the best team from each region will be selected.
At the end of the Challengers competitive year, the three EMEA overarching territories will host a new Challengers Ascension tournament. Three competition winners will be eligible for two years of membership in their respective international leagues, allowing them to compete in Masters and Champions events.
They will also be eligible for benefits as partnered teams, including an annual remuneration in addition to an opportunity to work collaboratively with Riot on in-game events and branded products. The international leagues will begin with ten partnered teams and expand by one squad per year until 14 new teams, or a total of 42 teams, are added by 2027.
Riot did not reveal how teams would meet the Challengers Ascension requirements. They plan to provide more information on this topic later this year or early in 2023.
“The exact mechanism, quantity of teams per league, and formats may differ from territory to territory as each of the Americas, EMEA, and Pacific have a different quantity of leagues,” said VALORAN Esport global communications lead Anton Ferraro.
Teams that ascend to the international leagues after winning an Ascension event are relegated back to the Challengers ecosystem after two years of participation.
Riot head of esports operations Whalen Rozelle said there were “no plans” for additional partnership slots.
Rozelle also said that roster safeguards, similar to those used in “League of Legends” esports, would be applied across VALORANT international leagues.
These safeguards will help protect Challengers teams that advance to international leagues from being completely outsourced by partnered teams.
“Contracts, roster composition, and player transfer windows will be standardized,” Rozelle said. “Teams that violate these rules will face a variety of escalating penalties.”
“Teams who advance to the Ascension tournament will need to adhere to Riot’s rules and regulations. We’ll be working closely with teams, ownership groups, and our regional leads to make sure all of our expectations are understood in advance.”
**Teams leaving VALORANT**
Since the announcement of the partnership system in April, a number of teams, including Rise, Dignitas, Beastcoast, SoaR, and Akrew, have announced their departure from the VALORANT ecosystem.
New York Fury announced their departure from the VALORANT just three months after announcing their new roster ahead of VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers. Shopify Rebellion later announced that it had been denied partnership status.