Scott Kostov | 17. August 2022

VCT unveils new Challengers ecosystem

A promotion system based on merit is what fans of competitive Valorant were clamoring for during the franchising process and they got their wish.

The new regional Challengers circuit system will kick off as a part of the 2023 Valorant Champions Tour, giving a much-needed opportunity to the tier two scene. We already covered some of the worrying trends surrounding franchising, especially in big regions, but the recent announcement alleviates some of them.

In this process, Riot has managed to integrate the best of both worlds. A professional tier-one scene that will draw a lot of sponsors hoping for more screen time and a big audience willing to watch only if the level of competition was constantly challenged. And this is how they did it!

VCT DomesticLeague Ecosystem Pyramid

The four layers of Valorant Competitive by 2024. Credit: Riot Games

International events

Starting from the top, international events organized by Valorant Esports will remain the highest level of competition on the scene. This includes the two Masters events and the third and final international tournament of the year — Valorant Champions. 

Tier-one scene — International leagues

In order to qualify for these global events, teams need to be among the best in one of the three international leagues. These will be the Americas, EMEA, and Pacific, which will all include smaller regional leagues. While these international leagues will be the basis of the tier one scene, the 21 of these so-called Challenger Leagues will be the cornerstones of the new tier-two competition.

VCT DomesticLeague Ecosystem Map v3 1

Three regional leagues will be composed of 21 Challenger leagues. Credit: Riot Games

Tier-two scene — regional leagues

Regional leagues will kick off with open qualifiers, from which the best teams will be slotted into the leagues, each hosting two splits of regular season play. Each Challenger split will culminate in a playoff tournament where the best team will be crowned as that league’s champion. This is nearly identical to the franchising format that League of Legends applied for its tier-one scene back in 2016, but with a twist.

Promotion tournaments — Challenger Ascension

To keep the tier-two scene motivated and competitive, and avoid the complacency that tier-one teams can fall into when they secure their spot by paying for it, Valorant Esports is adding a new layer of competition known as Challengers Ascension. Starting from next year, teams who will secure the top spot in the regional Challenger leagues will compete in Challenger Ascension tournaments, one for each region. The victorious teams will earn a spot in the following year’s international league.

VCT DomesticLeague PromotionPath v3

Credit: Riot Games

The promotion to the international leagues for the winners of Ascension tournaments will last two years, with one team being added each year. During these two years, the promoted teams will have similar league benefits, and an equal chance to qualify for international tournaments, but they have to prove themselves. Even if they fail, they get to return to their Challenger leagues and fight their way back through the Ascension circuits again.

VCT DomesticLeague ChallengerPromotion

The only way to maintain a spot in the international leagues without paying for the franchised spot is continued excellence through the tier-two scene. Credit: Riot Games

Tournament mode in Valorant

Riot also announced an in-game competitive system that goes beyond Ranked. Through this system, amateur teams can be integrated directly into the VCT. After this is done, you and your friends can achieve your dreams of becoming professional players through the game itself.

This kind of change should push Valorant competition further on a global scale, with the lowest ranked Challenger teams fighting for their spot against the newest ranked demons getting into competitive play. Fans are especially ecstatic about the number of regional leagues, which will create a strong foundation for fan bases to grow, in a more organized system.

Header: Riot Games