Nothing seems to be slowing down VALORANT. And while League of Legends remains the top Riot Games-produced export worldwide. It is clear that the company is paving the way for its tactical first-person shooter to become a top North American favourite.
Before the start of the 2023 esports season, Riot announced a major schedule change, with the upcoming VCT Americas league (home of top-level NA. Latin America, Brazil’s VALORANT) now offering “prime” matches Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm CT. Monday at 2 pm CT time” broadcast dates, with matches on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm CT and Mondays at 2:00 pm CT. The presentation of this spot, previously occupied by the LCS, to NA VALORANT indicates that the tides have changed on the western edge of the Atlantic and Riot’s priorities have shifted.
Note the VCT
COLOURANT as a whole has seen an increase in viewership between the first and second full year (2021 and 2022). Data collected from Esports Charts shows that 11 of the top 15 total viewing hours for VALORANT events were held in 2022. The year-end 2022 Champions events are far ahead of the rest in terms of viewing hours and peak viewership.
It’s not just esports viewers that are growing; according to SullyGnome, on Twitch. VALORANT was the third most watched game in 2022, with about 1.16 billion hours watched; in 2021. It was fifth with 950 million hours watched; in 2022, it was the third most watched game, with about 1.16 billion hours watched; in 2022. It was the third most watched game, with about 1.16 billion hours watched, according to SullyGnome. Some of the top streamers of the year, such as Tarik and fps_shaka, primarily played VALORANT.
In North America, the popularity of professional VALORANT and the League has gone in opposite directions: the 2022 NA Challengers and LCQ events decisively outperformed the previous year’s events in viewership, while LCS viewership has steadily declined since 2020.LCS on Thursday and Friday at 2 p.m. CT. With the event’s start, this schedule change will continue exacerbating the rift between the two major Riot-operated esports in NA.
Riot’s new favorite
But it’s not just about the numbers. Over the past few years, VALORANT has been treated much better in NA than in League. Fan and player feedback seems to be carrying more weight. When plans for a VCT-affiliated league initially looked like only 8 teams per league with no advancement opportunities, Riot responded to fan feedback and placed 10 teams in each league with Ascension. A few years, plans to expand the size of the leagues.
In addition, VALORANT will have its own space in the newly revamped Riot Games Arena, previously known as the LCS Arena.
In addition, international competitiveness should be a major factor considered by Riot. At these Worlds held in North America, not a single LCS team has made it to the knockout stages. Only one LCS team has made it to the knockout stage in the last four iterations (Cloud 9 in 2021).
The NA VALORANT team
The NA VALORANT team, on the other hand, was the most internationally competitive team during the 2021 and 2022 VCT seasons. Winning two of the four international Masters events held (Sentinels at Reykjavik 2021 and OpTic at Reykjavik 2022), placing in the top three in the other two Masters events, and finishing in the top eight at Champions 2021, the NA team Only one team finished in the top six at Champions 2022, with two teams in the top six, leaving OpTic almost ready to take home the World Championship.
Entering the era of partnerships and international leagues, North American VALORANT must continue to look forward despite its accomplishments to date. But these accomplishments and lofty goals for the future are precisely why this game can and should become the new focus of esports in North America. And Riot wants to emphasize that point.