Riot Games details VALORANT First Strike North America Qualifiers format

Riot Games has announced the qualification format for its First Strike VALORANT tournament in North America, with Nerd Street Gamers (NSG) and Engine Media/UMG Gaming both staging separate qualifiers. 

Riot is partnering with NSG after the latter produced a string of successful Valorant tournaments with the Ignition Series.

On their partnership with Riot, NSG founder and CEO John Fazio stated: “After being selected by elite organizations such as FaZe Clan and T1 to power their Ignition Series tournaments, we are elated to work with Riot in running a Nerd Street Gamers First Strike qualifier seriesWe have built a comprehensive competitive ecosystem with our amateur VALORANT events since the game’s release, and this is an incredible launching point for what the future holds.”

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Both NSG and Engine Media will host qualification tournaments in order to whittle down the teams to just eight participants for the inaugural VALORANT First Strike tournament. Along with becoming the First Strike champion, teams will also want to qualify to ensure they claim their share of the $100,000 (~£76,613) prize pool.

Lou Schwartz, Co-CEO of Engine Media, said on their partnership with Riot: “UMG has a proven history of being the hub of both elite and amateur competitive gaming, and we couldn’t be more excited to support and grow the VALORANT gaming community in partnership with Riot Games. Between Engine Media’s tournament hosting and production capabilities (UMG) and its esports reporting and analytics services (Stream Hatchet), we look forward to supporting both Riot Games and the gaming community from end-to-end of their journey.”

How the tournament will work

The Riot-produced First Strike tournament will begin with the first of two open qualifiers on October 26, which will be produced by Nerd Street Gamers. The 128-team open tournament will reduce the pool down to 16 teams over the course of five days, who will then compete in the first official qualifier.

From there, the top four teams will advance straight to the main event, and teams that placed fifth to eighth will get another chance to qualify by being placed directly in the second official qualifier.

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The second open tournament, to be hosted by Engine Media, will commence on November 11, and will also take place over a five-day period. The four teams from the first qualifier (that placed fifth to eighth) will be joined by the top 12 teams in the second open tournament, forming a 16-team pool for the second official qualifier. From here, four more teams will make it to the First Strike main event – taking the total to eight teams competing for the $100,000 (~£76,613) prize pool in early December. 

To compete in the first open tournament, teams must register at For the second, registration can be completed at 

Esports Insider says: Riot Games produces world-class esports events, evidenced by the repeated success of its League of Legends tournaments. Given such pedigree, paired with the success of both Nerd Street Gamers and UMG Gaming in operating events, there seems little reason to doubt the success of First Strike. 

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