Valorant news
by Christopher Eluemuno in
eSports Betting News

Riot Games, the creators of the popular esports title League of Legends, had earlier announced their new schedule for Valorant Champions Tour 2023, and it looks like Valorant is poised to take the top spot in North American esports.

Valorant continues to rise in popularity and it appears that there is nothing that can slow it down. While League of Legends remains the top esports Riot Games globally, the company is clearly working towards making its tactical first-person shooter the leading esports in North America.

Before the start of the 2023 esports season, Riot Games announced significant changes to their schedule, including the VCT Americas league taking the prime time spot on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm CT, as well as Mondays at 2 pm CT. This slot was previously occupied by the LCS, but the decision to give it to the VALORANT league in North America, Latin America, and Brazil shows a shift in focus and priority for Riot on the western side of the Atlantic.

According to data from Esports Charts, Valorant has seen an increase in viewership between 2021 and 2022, with eleven out of the top fifteen Valorant events in terms of total hours watched taking place in 2022. Additionally, the year-end Champions event for 2022 has seen significantly higher hours watched and peak viewership compared to other events.

Also, according to SullyGnome, Valorant’s viewership has also seen significant growth on Twitch. In 2022, it was the third most-watched game with approximately 1.16 billion hours watched, while in 2021 it was fifth with 950 million hours watched. Many top streamers, such as Tarik “tarik” Celik and fps_shaka, predominantly played VALORANT throughout the year.

In North America, the professional esports of VALORANT and League of Legends are experiencing opposite trends in popularity. The NA Challengers and LCQ events for 2022 saw a significant increase in viewership compared to the previous year, while the LCS has seen a decline in viewership since 2020. It is expected that the schedule changes, which moved the LCS to Thursday and Friday at 2 pm CT, will further widen the gap between the two major Riot-managed esports in North America.

However, its growth has not been limited to just numbers. In recent years, Valorant has received better treatment in North America compared to League of Legends. Feedback from fans and players seems to be more influential.

When the initial plans for the VCT-partnered league included only eight teams per league and no promotion opportunities, Riot took into account the opinions of fans and increased the number of teams to 10 per league, including Ascension, and also plans to gradually increase the league size over the years. The LCS Arena, now renamed the Riot Games Arena, will also feature a dedicated space for Valorant.

Furthermore, Riot has likely taken into account the importance of international competitiveness. No LCS team made it to the knockout stage at the most recent Worlds tournament held in North America. In fact, only one LCS team has advanced to the knockout stage in the past four years – Cloud9 in 2021.

North American Valorant teams have proven to be highly competitive on the international stage during the 2021 and 2022 VCT seasons. They have won two of the four international Masters events held (Sentinels at Reykjavik 2021 and OpTic at Reykjavik 2022) and placed in the top three at the other two Masters events. In addition, while only one team from North America reached the top eight at Champions 2021, two teams finished in the top six at Champions 2022, with OpTic narrowly missing out on winning the world championship.

Despite its impressive achievements, North American Valorant must continue to look ahead as it enters the partnership and international league era. However, these accomplishments and ambitious future goals make it clear that Valorant should be the new center of North American esports, and Riot seems determined to make this happen.

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