Valorant’s closed beta has generated an overwhelming amount of hype through the Twitch drop system. But what happens after that?
Riot Games gave some early details of its plans for Valorant esports. Though Riot has set the standard for intense publisher control of competition with League of Legends, the publisher seems to be looking more at the systems used in games like Counter-Strike and Dota 2 when it comes to Valorant.
“We have massive dreams for what this game can be as an esport, and we’re excited to embark on this long esports journey with our players. Our primary focus early on will be forming partnerships with players, content creators, tournament organizers, and developers, unlocking them to help us to build the VALORANT ecosystem,” Riot’s global esports senior director Whalen Rozelle said, per ESPN.
Rozelle stated he has had contact with over 100 esports entities including tournament organizers and organizations. Specific brands were not named, but Valorant was quickly adopted by a number of established esports organizations such as T1 and Cloud9.
Riot taking a more hands-off approach to Valorant’s esports scene is somewhat surprising. In 2017, the publisher announced its plans to pivot to a franchising system for its European and North American leagues. This saw 10 teams guaranteed a spot in the premier competitions at the cost of a significant fee, similar to a traditional sports league like the NFL or NBA.
The system was met with some resistance as popular organizations were forced out of the game due to their inability to procure the capital to purchase a franchise. Despite this, the franchise system was a smashing financial success. Activision Blizzard noticed this and took it a step further, implementing a similar approach in first-person shooter titles Overwatch and Call of Duty.
Before switching to a franchising system, both Overwatch and League of Legends had a more diverse tournament scene that included events hosted by ESL, DreamHack, and Major League Gaming. Odds are that Valorant’s early tournament schedule will include a number of different multi-game organizers.
But even if Riot doesn’t implement it right away, a franchising system could still come in the future. If the viewership is there, there might be too much financial potential there for Riot Games to ignore.