Nothing appears to be preventing VALORANT from moving forward. It’s also obvious that Riot Games is paving the way for its tactical first-person shooter to overtake League of Legends as the most popular Esports it produces in North America, even though League of Legends is still the company’s top-grossing Esports globally. Riot made significant schedule changes prior to the start of the 2023 esports season, which saw the VCT Americas league—home to the top-tier teams from North America, Latin America, and Brazil—take over the “prime time” broadcast days of Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm CT, as well as Monday matches at the same time. A change in the tides and a change in Riot’s emphasis on the western coast of the Atlantic can be seen in this location, which the LCS formerly occupied. NA VALORANT is now offered at this location. VALORANT has a better chance of becoming the #1 Esports in North America thanks to Riot’s planned 2023 calendar
Between its first and second full seasons, VALORANT as a whole has been drawing an increasing number of viewers (2021 and 2022). According to statistics acquired from Esports Charts, eleven of the top 15 VALORANT events in terms of total hours seen took place in 2022, and the year-end Champions event for 2022 is miles ahead of everything else in terms of hours watched and peak viewership.
Additionally, viewership of other sports is rising. According to Sully Gnome, VALORANT had a viewership of 1.16 billion hours on Twitch in 2022, making it the third most-viewed game overall. With 950 million hours viewed in 2021, it placed fifth. The game VALORANT was mostly played by some of the top streamers of the year, including Tarik and fps shaka.
Professional League and VALORANT have been growing in popularity at the exact opposite rates throughout North America. While LCS popularity has been progressively falling since 2020, the NA Challengers and LCQ tournaments for 2022 significantly outperformed the events from the previous year in terms of viewership. There’s little doubt that the split between the two main Riot-managed esports leagues in North America will continue to grow as a result of the scheduling changes, which relocated the LCS to Thursdays and Fridays with a 2 pm CT start time.
However, it goes beyond simple math. VALORANT has received far better treatment in NA over the past few years compared to League. There seems to be more weight given to the player and fan opinion. As a result of feedback from fans, Riot decided to place 10 teams in each league with Ascension and has plans to further expand the league size over time. Initially, plans for the VCT-partnered league appeared to include only eight teams per league and no prospects for promotion. The recently redesigned Riot Games Arena, formerly known as the LCS Arena, will now house VALORANT in its own area.
Additionally, Riot must have given serious consideration to how competitive the global market is. In the most recent Worlds, which were held in North America, not a single LCS team made it through the group stage. In fact, in the previous four versions, just one LCS team made it to the knockout round (Cloud9 in 2021).
In contrast, during the 2021 and 2022 VCT seasons, NA VALORANT teams ranked among the most competitive on the global stage. They finished in the top three at the other two Masters events, and while only one NA team made it to the top eight at Champions 2021, two teams finished in the top six at Champions 2022, with OpTic almost bringing home a world championship. They have won two of the four international Masters events held (Sentinels at Reykjavik 2021 and OpTic at Reykjavik 2022), and they have placed top three at the other two Masters events.
North American VALORANT must continue to look ahead despite its success thus far as it enters the partnership and international league age. But those successes and the game’s high aspirations for the future are precisely the reasons why it can and ought to become the next centre of attention for North American esports. And it’s obvious that Riot wants to emphasise that point.