Riot Games announces new Valorant Challenger circuit
22 August 2022
Big news for Valorant teams, players and fans, because developer Riot Games has announced a new and improved Challenger circuit for teams looking to secure a spot in Valorant’s exclusive international leagues. Previously, several teams had criticized the organization for making it entrance into the prestigious international leagues too difficult, especially for teams with smaller budgets. As a result, last week Riot presented a complete six-year calendar boasting no less than 21 inaugural Challenger leagues divided in regions, namely the Americas, EMEA (Europe and the Middle East), and Asia-Pacific.
Valorant Challengers start in 2023
The Valorant Challenger leagues will kick off with series of open regional qualifiers from where the best teams will continue in splits that will take several weeks each and end with a playoff tournament. After that, each one of the previously mentioned regions will host what is called a Challengers Ascension event. The winner of these major events gets a two-year entry ticket for their respective international league. On top of that, these teams will get an annual budget addition from Riot, the chance to collaborate with the developer on in-game events and branded products, and other benefits that are provided to official partnered teams.
“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 Anton Ferraro, global communications lead for “Valorant” esports, in reaction to questions about how teams could qualify for the Challenger Ascension events, “We plan to provide additional information on this topic later on in the year or in early 2023”. After two years in the international league, each winner of the previous Ascension Challenger event is relegated back to the Challenger circuit, from where they can once again go for promotion if they want.
Standardized format for all regions
Despite the previously mentioned differences between the three Valorant Challenger regions, Riot Games has announced a standardized approach to the new ecosystem. “Contracts, roster composition, and player transfer windows will be standardized”, explains Whalen Rozelle, Head of Esports at Riot Games, “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”.
The Challenger circuit is Riot’s answer to criticism regarding the partnership system that was announced back in April of this year. While profitable for the developer itself, it discouraged many Valorant teams from participating in the official events. Organizations like Shopify Rebellion and Luminosity Gaming withdrew from the partnership system application process as they deemed their respective chances of entry too low. They stated that they would wait to see if other ways of entry would be created and the introduction of the Challenger circuit was created as a response to that wish.