Riot Games announces VALORANT Challengers restructure

valorant challengers
Image credit: Riot Games

Riot Games’ Global Head of VALORANT Esports, Leo Faria, has announced significant changes to the VALORANT Challengers ecosystem, the second tier of competitive VALORANT.

The changes, which were detailed in a blog post, include a year-long run time for Challengers leagues, moving Challengers Ascension to September and allowing the inclusion of affiliate teams. Lastly, VALORANT’s in-game mode Premier will allow players to qualify for Challenger Leagues, adding a new path to pro for the game.

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The VALORANT Challengers leagues sit below VALORANT’s partner team international leagues (EMEA, Pacific and Americas). The best teams from each region qualify for Ascension tournaments, which provide an opportunity to gain a two-year promotion for the competition’s respective VCT partner league. This year saw The Guard, Gentle Mates and Bleed eSports join VCT’s international leagues.

However, the Challengers leagues received criticism for not offering enough chances for players and teams. This is largely due to long pauses in the competitive season and a lack of competitive opportunities.

Faria and Riot Games noted that it plans to remedy this with several additions and changes.

The first major addition is a Premier mode, which is located inside the VALORANT client itself. Players will have the opportunity to create teams and play tournaments without leaving the client. According to Faria, these tournaments will “eventually qualify teams into Challenger Leagues, creating a path to pro that starts in-game”.

Faria noted that Premier will serve as the game’s third competitive layer, but no mention of future Challengers qualification tournaments was made at this point.

The second change that is happening is the restructuring of the VALORANT Challengers calendar. The Challengers tournaments will take place throughout the year, with the aim to help viewership of the tournaments and provide Challengers teams with a way to play for longer than this season.

It must be noted that Riot has announced certain tradeoffs, such as the fact that not all tournaments will be broadcast in all stages due to logistics. However, the company claimed it is open to giving creators a “clean feed” to share and host watch parties.

In light of the new changes, the Ascension tournaments will be moved to September, after VALORANT Champions, the game’s final international event of the season, has concluded. Faria said that this will “allow the tournament to shine even more”.

Lastly, Faria said that it will allow more “player mobility” in the future, allowing teams in the top leagues to field affiliate teams in the Challenger League. As a result, a new loan system will come into play, allowing teams to exchange players from the VCT all the way to Challengers and vice versa.

Exact dates and timing for all these changes is currently up in the air, with Faria noting that further information about the leagues, dates and changes will be shared “in the next few months”. Lastly, Faria did mention that some of the changes “might not hit the mark”, but that the company is prepared to work with the community to improve and adapt.

Ivan Šimić
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.