VALORANT officially launches in China

VALORANT launch China
Image credit: Riot Games (screenshot via YouTube)

Riot Games’ esports title VALORANT has officially launched in China today, July 12th.

The game comes online three years after it launched globally in June 2020, and marks another significant expansion in the esport title’s already global reach.

VALORANT will be distributed by Chinese video game conglomerate Tencent Games — the parent company of developer Riot Games, which also makes League of Legends.

The game received approval in late December 2022, seven months ago, from the Chinese government’s National Press and Publication Administration, which grants licences for foreign games to be distributed in the country.

Some users in China were already able to play the game unofficially via VPNs, but the official launch will allow it to be legally playable and facilitate domestic VALORANT esports tournaments.

Riot Games COO Whalen Rozelle revealed in a press conference on June 28th, when the Chinese launch date was first announced, that the company ‘hopes’ to welcome China to its flagship tournament series, the VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT), in 2024.

Chinese esports organisations have previously received ad-hoc invitations to recent VALORANT esports events, most recently to VCT Masters Tokyo, where China’s Edward Gaming placed 5th-6th.

Tencent said VALORANT is its “most important game published this year,” according to the South China Morning Post.

VALORANT is a 5v5 tactical FPS where playable characters have special hero abilities. It is Riot Games’ response to games like Valve’s CS:GO and Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch; many in the community have likened VALORANT to a mix between the two.

Riot Games released an official China launch trailer on its YouTube channel early on Tuesday to mark the launch. The game is being published under the name 无畏契约 in China, which translates to ‘Fearles Contract’, per media reports.

The Chinese launch of VALORANT notably comes just six months after all Blizzard titles — including Overwatch — went offline in China after losing their licence to operate thanks to Blizzard’s acrimonious split with former distributor NetEase.

Jake Nordland
Jake has worked at Esports Insider as a journalist and editor since early 2021. Now ESI's Media Manager, he continues to act as lead editor of print magazine The Esports Journal, and contributes his words to the website from time to time.

UPDATE 13/07/2023 9:30am: This article initially incorretly stated the launch date was June 12th, rather than July 12th.