Inconsistent timing, questionable decision making, and consecutive controversies have shaken up the competitive VALORANT scene in recent weeks. At the Champions 2023o More Esports conducted an exclusive interview with the Global Director of Esports for VALORANT, Leo Fariato seek ecosystem responses for 2024.
Check out the highlights of the interview below.
Prior to taking the role at VALORANT, Leo Faria had also been the global director of esports for League of Legends: Wild Rifta modality that was born with a lot of attention and, after several problems, today only has actions focused on a few regions.
“We had some forced steps on Wild Rift, but everyone fought really hard to make it work. There were significant investments, but they didn’t work, and we had to focus on Asia. The big lesson for VALORANT is to give the community what they want, not something forced, to win people over organically.”
A Riot Games implemented the International League in 2022 and started it the following year. Unlike what happens in Counter-Strike e Rainbow 6the developer chose to bring the closed scenario model, that is, Riot is responsible for the competitions and calendar of the year, without the presence of partner organizers or third parties (such as BLAST e ESL), similar to League of Legends. As a general balance, Leo Faria said he was happy with how the League was working.
“Riot’s main focus, taking into account learnings from twelve years of League of Legends, is understanding that we need to provide partner organizations with a sustainable model within our leagues. That is: investment opportunities, establishing yourself in a region, closing partnerships, etc. This would only happen in a closed scenario in a franchise model, giving investment security to the teams in the long term”.
It’s the franchise’s first year, and we think it’s working out super well.
“VALORANT was an attempt to have the best of both worlds, the security of the closed circuit (Franchises/Tier 1) and the opportunity for new teams to be a part of it (Regional Tournaments/Tier 2). That’s why we have Challengers and Ascension, exactly for new teams and players to appear. At the end of the day, the best players will somehow be in Tier 1 because teams will want to sign them. This is the franchise’s first year, and we think it’s working super well, but we’re willing to change, tweak the system.”
Challengers’ role in VALORANT: Developing new talent
On the 23rd of August, Riot Games announced the new calendar for 2024, with a new championship format. Specifically about the Challengers (Tier 2), the developer has received criticism from the regions. Choosing to add one more split to the offseasona Player swap between Tier 1 and Tier 2are some changes for next year announced by Riot.
Furthermore, at the press conference with VALORANT directors, the More Esports questioned Leo Faria about Riot’s alternative to facilitate training between players in the Brazilian region and franchised teams. That’s because the VCT Americas takes place in Los Angeles, in the United States, geographically making this experience impossible, lived by the region THAT e LATAM.
A @quelvlr_ is in Los Angeles and asked Léo Faria, Global Director of Esports at VALORANT, about the difference in opportunities that regional teams have. At NA, they train against franchise teams, while Brazil is isolated and struggles to exchange experiences abroad.… pic.twitter.com/yGlhSiUR7J
— MaisEsportsVAL (@maisesportsval) August 23, 2023
Mais Esports once again questioned Leo Faria about the dissatisfaction of Brazilian organizations with the response seen above, to which VALORANT’s global director of esports responded:
“When the system was created, the idea was to have the international league at the same time as the regional leagues. So, the idea is not that VCT Americas is a Los Angeles league, and happens to contain three Brazilian teams. She is Brazilian, Latin American and North American. It is inevitable not to put most of our energy into making VCT Americas a league for all fans across the regions.”
“If that is the proposal, Challengers arrives to develop talent. We are more than ever focusing on Tier 2 as a tool for this. Of course, nobody likes to see organizations leave the scene, but we are always in conversation with them, but sometimes they create unrealistic expectations”.
Challengers comes to develop talents […]but sometimes organizations create unrealistic expectations.
“We discussed with organizations that left Tier 2, and their hope was to receive a financial contribution for being present at Challengers, such as sharing revenue from items sold in the game, actions we do for Franchises. It is very difficult for Riot to be able to make this same investment at all levels of the sport, so we focus on the best players and teams in the world.”
For Leo Faria and Riot Games, it is important that teams competing in regional leagues understand that being present in Tier 2 is a high-risk bet, but one that also contains high rewards. The director also mentions that the lack of stability of the Challengers is already foreseen because it is a talent development league.
“We saw that many organizations entered Tier 2 with the intention of establishing themselves and competing in the regional leagues for several years, even if they did not achieve promotion to the Franchises, but this goes against the grain of what we think. This is not our vision, and we are not looking for stability in Tier 2, that it is a league that teams compete for several years, but that they develop talent, that is a step for VCT Americas”.
“We are making some changes to the rules and formats that will lead everyone in this direction of development for Franchises. The focus is and always will be VCT Americas, and that is the nature of the sport.”
We are not looking for stability in Tier 2, but for it to be a league that develops talent for VCT Americas
Despite the criticism and dissatisfaction of organizations with the Riot Games calendar, Leo Faria stated that all issues were taken to the teams and the developer always sought clarity with the teams that were in Challengers.
“We always try to make clear to all organizations the purpose of Challengers Brazil and the other 23 regional leagues around the world. We always had close conversations with the teams, but we failed and we will take as a lesson the fact that we wait until close to the end of the current championship to announce some changes, as is the case now, in which we announce changes in this final stretch of Champions 2023”.
“The season ended, there were several teams and players not knowing what the future would be. It put everyone in a tough spot because if you don’t know what’s next, there’s frustration, so that’s a lesson for Riot. We try to listen to these criticisms because we know that people only complain about the things that are truly important to them.”
Many players and organizations native to other disciplines have bet on VALORANT for the success that Riot Games has achieved in its efforts to professionalize esports with League of Legends. At the end of this year, the consensus is one of disappointment, including from the community. Finally, the Brazilian expressed understanding with frustration and mentioned the focus on the community, relying on the support of players and organizations to create a lasting esport.
“At the end of the day VALORANT is one of the most competitive games in the world, it’s very difficult to get to the top and I understand the frustration of people who want to participate. The path is open for new opportunities to be created, but it will not be easy. We need to take a step back and understand that the sport is built for the fans, not for the organizations and the players, because they build it all with us, and without the community there is nothing for anyone.”
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Despite citing Riot’s internal clarity that Tier 2 is a development league, this fact is still not something that brings security or stability to regional leagues, and without investment from these organizations, there is no chance for new stars to emerge. The idea that five friends with no structure, playing from their homes, conquer a place in VCT Americas is, to say the least, unrealistic.
Stability generates investment, and investment generates talent. One never goes without the other, and in that regard, Riot lacks the vision to develop the very league they want to develop talent.
Finally, this week following the final do Champions 2023a The Guard, North American team that won the Ascension and won the long-awaited vacancy in the American franchise of VCT, left out after a statement from Riot say that the organization had failed to meet pre-established requirements and deadlines.
The international VALORANT community, outraged, criticized the developer’s decision, who published an update through the global director Leo Faria, who had “listened to the community’s criticisms” and would be rethinking the case. After all, the The Guard You’ve gone through the high risk, but you’re not reaping the big reward.