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Valorant Champions Tour
GameValorant
Founded2020; 4 years ago (2020)
First season2021; 3 years ago (2021)
Owner(s)Riot Games
DirectorLeo Faria[1]
CountryGlobal
Official websitevalorantesports.com

The Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) is a global competitive esports tournament series for the video game Valorant organised by Riot Games, the game's developers. The series runs multiple events throughout each season, culminating in Valorant Champions, the top-level event of the tour. The VCT was announced in 2020, with its inaugural season taking place in 2021.

History

2021–2022: Open-qualifiers era

In November 2020, Riot Games announced the first Valorant Champions Tour, a tournament series divided into three tiers: Challengers, Masters, and Champions. Challengers would act as the lowest tier, split into seven regions: North America, Brazil, Latin America (Hispanic America), EMEA, Southeast Asia (later included South Asia and Oceania, become to Asia-Pacific), Korea, Japan. Teams that advance past Challengers would move on to Masters, where teams would not be divided by regions anymore, and the top 16 teams from Masters would move on to Champions, the final tournament of VCT.[2] In February 2021, they announced the VCT Game Changers, a supplementary tournament initiative for women and marginalized genders.[3]

Riot hired esports infrastructure company Nerd Street Gamers as operators and producers for all North American Challengers and Masters events.[4][5] They also hired several third-party companies to broadcast their events, such as Liga de Videojuegos Profesional (LVP) for their Spanish-language broadcasts and LetsPlay.Live for their Oceania broadcasts.[6] The 2021 Champions tournament took place on December 1–12 at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Germany, concluding with team Acend defeating Gambit Esports in the grand finals by a score of 3–2.[7][8]

Over 10,000 teams competed in the VCT in 2021. Outside of Champions, VCT saw its highest viewership at the Reykjavik Masters tournament in May, with a peak viewership of 1,085,850. The Champions grand finals match in December reached a peak viewership of 1,089,068, making it the VCT's highest peak viewership.[9][10]

Riot made several changes to the format of VCT for its second iteration. While the overall structure of Challengers, Masters, and Champions remained unchanged, it reduced the number of stages of Challengers and Masters events from three to two. VCT Challengers began on February 11, 2022.[11] The 2022 Champions Tournament took place from September 1 to 18 in Istanbul, Turkey.[12]

2023–present: Partnerships era

Riot Games announced a new format starting in 2023.[13] The season will be split into three international regions – Americas, EMEA, and Pacific instead of the 7 regions format used in previous years. Each international region will have its own International League that replaces the Challengers to become the domestic competitions to qualify for Masters and Champions. On September 21, 2022, Riot Games announced the thirty teams that had been selected as part of their new partnership format.[14][15]

In a June 2023 press conference, Riot COO Whalen Rozelle confirmed that Valorant would launch in China in July under the name 无畏契约 ("Fearless Contract"), with hopes to launch a VCT league there in 2024.[16] Shortly after in August, Riot announced a fourth regional league for China, raising the number of partnered teams to 40.[17] A number of Chinese teams (including Edward Gaming and Bilibili Gaming) already competed in locally-organised leagues.

Leagues and format

Franchised leagues

International Leagues

As of 2023, 30 teams are selected to be partner teams in International Leagues for five years with 10 teams per region. Non-partner teams compete in many sub-regions of Challengers events to qualify for "Ascension" events. The Ascension events will have one winner per region, which earns them a two-year promotion into their regions' International League. The promoted teams will have a chance to qualify for the global tournaments (Masters and Champions), as well as get benefits provided to other partnered teams. Each year through the Challengers promotion system, the three International Leagues will expand by one team each, until they reach a cap of 12 teams in each region in 2025 (beforehand this was supposed to be a 14-team cap by 2027).[18][19][20]

Teams in each International League will play on LAN in a centralized local: the Riot Games Arena in Los Angeles for VCT Americas,[21] Riot Games Arena in Berlin for VCT EMEA,[22] and Seoul for VCT Pacific.[23] The Americas and EMEA venues are shared with the regions' League of Legends leagues, the League Championship Series (LCS) and League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) respectively.

Americas EMEA Pacific
Partner teams (2023–27)
100 Thieves BBL Esports DetonatioN FocusMe
Cloud9 Fnatic DRX
Evil Geniuses FUT Esports Gen.G
Furia Esports GiantX[a] Global Esports
KRÜ Esports Karmine Corp Paper Rex
Leviatán KOI Rex Regum Qeon
LOUD Natus Vincere T1
MIBR Team Heretics Talon Esports
NRG Team Liquid Team Secret
Sentinels Team Vitality ZETA DIVISION
Non-partner teams
G2 Esports[b] Gentle Mates Bleed eSports

China League

Right from global launch, although Valorant had not been licensed for release in China, Riot Games showed favor towards Chinese players by allowed Chinese teams by allowing them to participate in global tournaments (Masters and Champions) through achievements in domestic tournaments organized by third parties, played at Hong Kong server.[c]

Since 2024, with Valorant licensed for release servers in mainland, Riot launched the VCT CN specifically for the only country that they considers a pro region on the same level as the three International Leagues for many countries, as well as competition slots for only teams from China at Masters and Champions.[27] They also announced the second Masters event of the year to take place in Shanghai and released a new Chinese agent Iso alongside previous agent Sage. The China League is based at the VCT CN Arena in Shanghai.[28]

Partner teams (2024–27)
All Gamers
Bilibili Gaming
Edward Gaming
FunPlus Phoenix
JD Gaming
Nova Esports
Titan Esports Club
Trace Esports
Tyloo
Wolves Esports
Non-partner teams
Dragon Ranger Gaming

Valorant Masters

The Valorant Masters is an biannual Valorant international tournament organized by Riot Games in the middle of years since 2021.[29][30] Similar to the Mid-Season Invitational for League of Legends, it is the second most important international Valorant tournament after Champions.[31] Teams must place near the top of their regional league to qualify for Masters.[32][33]

Valorant Champions

The Valorant Champions is the annual professional Valorant world championship tournament hosted by Riot Games and is the culmination of each VCT season. Teams compete for the world champion title of Valorant esports.

Non-franchised leagues

Challengers and Ascension

Non-partner teams compete in Challengers events of sub-regions in Americas, EMEA and Pacific to qualify for "Ascension", the yearly promotion event to the respective International Leagues. Originally, it was announced that teams would have two-year stays in their International League after winning Ascension, with one team promoted every year until 2026, when two teams would be promoted every year until 2028. The leagues would have 14 teams each, totaling to 42 teams across the three leagues.

On June 21, 2024, Riot announced changes to the Ascension format from 2025, with teams promoted to the International Leagues for one-year stays instead, after which they would be relegated to Challengers again if they did not finish in the top 8 in their region's International League; if they qualified for Champions however, they get to stay for another year; if they finished between 5th and 8th in the International League, they qualify for that year's Ascension for a chance to keep their place in the league.[20]

As of 2023, there are 23 minor regional leagues across the three international territories.[34]

Valorant Game Changers

Valorant Game Changers is a series of domestic competitions for women and other marginalized genders within Valorant esports.[35] Teams that finish in top places qualify for the Valorant Game Changers Championship, the world championship event of Game Changers, and also earn the chance to be promoted to their region's Challengers league.

Results

International Leagues & China League winners

Season Americas EMEA Pacific China
2023 LOUD Team Liquid Paper Rex League did not exist
2024 Kick-off Sentinels Karmine Corp Gen.G Edward Gaming
2024 Stage 1 100 Thieves Fnatic Paper Rex Edward Gaming
2024 Stage 2

Global tournaments

Year Event Location Final No.
Winner Score Runner-up
2021 Stage 2 Masters[d] Reykjavík Sentinels 3 0 Fnatic 10
Stage 3 Masters Berlin Gambit Esports 3 0 Team Envy 16
Champions Berlin Acend 3 2 Gambit Esports 16
2022 Stage 1 Masters Reykjavík OpTic Gaming 3 0 LOUD 12
Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen FunPlus Phoenix 3 2 Paper Rex 12
Champions Istanbul LOUD 3 1 OpTic Gaming 16
2023 LOCK//IN[e] São Paulo Fnatic 3 2 LOUD 32
Masters Tokyo Chiba[f] Fnatic 3 0 Evil Geniuses 12
Champions Los Angeles[g] Evil Geniuses 3 1 Paper Rex 16
2024 Masters Madrid Madrid Sentinels 3 2 Gen.G 8
Masters Shanghai Shanghai Gen.G 3 2 Team Heretics 12
Champions Seoul 16

Teams won titles

  *   Team or organization no longer participates in Valorant esports.

  *   Team not currently partnered but competing in sub-regional Challengers or third-party competition.

Team Region Champions Masters Total
Acend[h] EMEA 1 0 1
LOUD Americas 1 0 1
Evil Geniuses Americas 1 0 1
Fnatic EMEA 0 2[i] 2
Sentinels Americas 0 2 2
Gambit Esports EMEA 0 1 1
OpTic Gaming Americas 0 1 1
FunPlus Phoenix[j] EMEA 0 1 1
Gen.G Pacific 0 1 1

Regions' titles

Region Champions Masters Total
Americas 2 3 5
EMEA 1 4 5
Pacific 0 1 1
China 0 0 0

Valorant Game Changers Championship

Year Location Final
Champion Score Runner-up
2022 Berlin G2 Gozen 3 2 Shopify Rebellion GC
2023 São Paulo Shopify Rebellion 3 2 Team Liquid Brazil

Awards

Masters

The original masters trophy was unveiled by Riot at a May 2021 media preview event in the build up to Masters Reykjavik. It features a metal bottom and a glass top.

The trophy was redesigned in 2023, again by Volpin Props, to be reusable for Masters tournaments in multiple regions.[36] It stands at 18 inches (46 cm) and features a swappable 'Radianite' core. For Masters Tokyo, it featured duelist Yoru's ultimate Oni mask. The body of the trophy is palladium-plated with plastic components.

Champions

The Valorant Champions trophy was first unveiled ahead of Valorant Champions 2021. Also designed and built by Volpin Props of Atlanta, Georgia, it stands at 2 feet (61 cm) tall and is partially 3D-printed, with 24 karat gold decoration overlayed.[37]

Notes

  1. ^ Team had competed as Giants before. On 14 December 2023, Giants Gaming and Excel Esports announced merger, forming GiantX.[24]
  2. ^ While The Guard won the 2023 Americas Ascension tournament, which guaranteed that they would participate in the VCT Americas League, on August 29, 2023, it was announced that they would not compete in VCT Americas for their stint (2024 and 2025) as they had not agreed to the Team Participation Agreement.[25] On September 22, 2023, it was announced that G2 Esports had acquired all but one member of The Guard's roster, thus taking over their slot.[26]
  3. ^ Although it has the same status as the game had not been officially released locally, in contrast to the favor given to China, Riot Games did not allow players and teams from Vietnam to participate in 2020 First Strike and 2021 VCT stage 1.
  4. ^ Riot Games did not host an international Masters event for 2021 Stage 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, each region had its domestic Stage 1 Masters.
  5. ^ To celebrate a new franchising format, Riot Games replaced the first split of International Leagues with a season's kick-off global event called "VCT LOCK//IN" for all 30 partner teams and 2 invited teams from China. The winning team of this event will be regarded to have won a Masters title.
  6. ^ Although this event had been named "Masters Tokyo" officially, it was held in Chiba instead of Tokyo.
  7. ^ It was also a.k.a "Valorant Champions Los Angeles". However, Inglewood hosted the final three days.
  8. ^ Acend is competing in Valorant Challengers East: Surge (sub-region Eastern Europe of EMEA) currently.
  9. ^ Included 2023 LOCK//IN's title
  10. ^ FunPlus Phoenix is competing in China currently. Before 2023, they competed in the CIS sub-region and EMEA. The EMEA roster currently competes under the Natus Vincere organization.

References

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  3. ^ Takahashi, Dean (February 23, 2021). "Valorant's Game Changers tournaments will highlight women and marginalized people". VentureBeat. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  4. ^ Nicholson, Jonno (January 19, 2021). "Nerd Street Gamers to operate first stage of VALORANT Champions Tour". Esports Insider. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  5. ^ Nicholson, Jonno (March 10, 2021). "Nerd Street Gamers expands Riot Games partnership". Esports Insider. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  6. ^ Murray, Trent (February 5, 2021). "LVP to Serve as Official Spanish Language Channel for Valorant Champions Tour". The Esports Observer. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
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