Riot Games has revealed its vision for Valorant as an esports title. In a recent blog post, Riot Games’ Director of Esports, Whalen “Magus” Rozelle” discussed how the company’s plan to build Valorant into an esport is based on three core principles “competitive integrity, accessibility, and authenticity.”
Essentially, this means that Riot wants the game to remain competitive, with professionals winning by skill rather than external factors. The aim is for all players to “have a fair shot at reaching the highest levels of play through merit-based competition.” Although the company wants to push the competitive scene, they do want to keep Valorant accessible for all, both fans and players, from all backgrounds. The hope is to create high-level broadcast experiences that showcase the moments we love, catering for longtime fans and newcomers. On top of that is keeping it all authentic, the developers want to build the game and the esport with the community: “We want Valorant esports to grow with this community as well as discover its own voice, talent, and stars.”
Riot Games isn’t interested in rushing too quickly into anything, but they have already released Valorant Community Competition Guidelines, giving aid to event organizers who want to create third-party tournaments. They’ve also opened the Riot Developer Portal, where developers can submit ideas for the tools they want to build, as well as allowing conversation regarding new features in the game.
Valorant Community Competition Guidelines rundown
The guidelines split events into three categories: small, medium, and major. Small tournaments are those run by your friendly local PC cafe or other community organizers. The prize pool cannot exceed $10,000, or $12,000 in non-cash prizes. The idea of these events is for fun and social play, and they must be a local event, so there’s no international play here. Medium Tournaments are the next step up, possibly run by businesses and brands, esports organizations, or streamers. The prize limit for medium-sized events is capped at $50,000. Meanwhile, the major tournaments are likely what fans will see at major events, such as Dreamhack. These will be seen as semi-professional and part of the global competitive ecosystem.
Small events have access to limited resources and profit cannot be made from these events. Instead, all money should go into covering the costs of the events and the prize pool. Small tournaments can be broadcasted online and streamed on any platform but they must meet Riot’s rules.
Medium and Major tournaments follow similar guidelines and are more supported by Riot, however, they must apply for licenses. They must be custom, so would probably differ based on the event. Medium tournaments must apply to the Regional Riot Esports Team for their license, whilst major tournaments need to go to the Global Riot Esports Team. This gives an indication as to the scale for the events as medium may cover a country, whereas major may cover a continent or more. For these events, Riots may include them on the Riot Games Official Calendar, and they may permit the use of trademarks, logos, and artwork. Riot may also contribute to the prize funds for these tournaments, and Riot may provide merchandise to be sold, as well.
Medium and major tournaments must abide by the broadcast terms in their license. Chat must be moderated and the option to “Show Blood” must also be toggled off.
But what does this mean?
It is important to note that Riot is looking to set up their own league, which is why they are doing guidelines partly to help organizers, but also to make sure the Riot and Valorant IP goes undamaged and leaving space for Riot to do their own thing. While Riot’s league is not yet established, they are relying on the community for events. This should mean we are due to see many Valorant events and competitions, whether they are run by streamers or at large events like Dreamhack. This gives organizers freedom to put on events, but also a guiding hand that makes it seem possible. For small businesses, it may seem daunting to put on a tournament, but these guidelines should solve that, putting requirements into simple words, and making restrictions, or lack of, very clear.
“As such, a primary focus early on will be forming partnerships with players, content creators, tournament organizers, and developers – unlocking them to help us to build this ecosystem.”
When a new game comes out, the elite players aren’t going to become apparent for some time. Having these tournaments will help to breed the talent and become scouting grounds for esport organizations to find members to join their team.
The toggling of ‘Show Blood’ seems to have also caused quite an issue. With many opposing it, stating it makes it a ‘cartoony child’s game’. Others claiming that blood is needed to show hits. However, with blood toggled off, impacts create sparks in place of blood; a more PG indication that a bullet has found its mark. Whilst it is true that it possibly helps to lower to age rating, creating a larger audience for the game, the main reason may come from country regulations. Riot is owned by Tencent, which is a Chinese company. In China, you cannot show blood in games. For League of Legends, all blood is made black rather than red. Having no blood in the game allows for global success, especially when China plays such a large part in the esports industry.
What can we expect from Riot’s Valorant official esports competitions?
We can’t say for certain. It is clear they have some names in mind, hence the guidelines banning certain words. They have, however, said it will not mirror the League of Legends. Does this mean it will be similar with some little changes, or will we see something more out of line? Or could it be closer to Overwatch League, with city-based or even country-based teams?
Valorant is still in beta, but has secured the limelight already. Having gained 1.7 million views at its peak, this game is set for success, and with its focus being on competition and precision, it is quite literally made to be an esport. With this in mind, it won’t be long before tournaments start popping up. By the end of the beta, we should expect to see a roadmap to Riot’s Valorant league.
Alistar is an English and Linguistics graduate, and he's been playing video games for as long as he can remember. He started playing League of Legends in 2011, and has been obsessed since. Hopefully that passion turns into knowledge, which can fuel his writing.