Valorant is one of the most popular esports titles in the world, with millions of players and fans across the globe. Riot Games announced that the VALORANT franchise has arrived.
This is a major change in the structure and format of its esports scene for the 2023 season. But what does franchising mean for Valorant esports? How does it affect the teams, players, and fans? What are the benefits and challenges of this new system?
In this article, we will answer all these questions and more, as we explain everything you need to know about Valorant franchising.
What does the franchise in VALORANT means?
It’s a system where a set number of teams or organizations get exclusive participation rights in a league or tournament. They typically pay a fee or meet specific criteria for this. These teams secure their league spot for an extended period, regardless of their performance. Traditional sports like NFL and NBA use franchising, often tied to locations and loyal fan bases.
Esports is also embracing franchising, seen in big titles like League of Legends, Overwatch, and Call of Duty. Franchising offers stability and security for teams and players, eliminating concerns about relegation or qualification. Additionally, publishers gain more control, setting rules, standards, and revenue distribution. It also brings consistent schedules, formats, and branding, attracting sponsors, media partners, and viewers.
Franchising has some downsides. It makes leagues less diverse and fair because it stops new teams from competing with the ones already there. Franchised teams get more money, help, and attention, which creates a big difference from others. It’s also expensive and risky, needing a lot of money upfront for possible long-term rewards.
How Franchising in Valorant Works?
Valorant franchising is different from other esports franchising systems in several ways. First of all, Riot Games does not charge any fee or buy-in for the teams to join in the leagues. Instead, Riot Games pay a minimum stipend of $600,000 per year to each team.
Riot Games select the partnered teams based on various criteria, such as their performance, fan engagement, brand identity, content creation, financial stability, and commitment to Valorant esports.
Riot Games also considers the regional representation and diversity of the teams, as well as their alignment with Riot Games’ values and vision.
What are the regions of the Valorant franchise?
Riot Games created three regional leagues for Valorant franchising: Americas (North America and Latin America), EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and Pacific (China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia). Each league competes in regular seasons and playoffs throughout the year. The top teams from each league qualify for international events called Masters (four times a year) and Champions (once a year), where they will face off against other regional champions for glory and prize money.
The Pros and Cons of Franchising in Valorant
Valorant franchising has a significant impact on Valorant esports, and it affects different stakeholders in different ways. Here are some of the main pros and cons of this new system:
For Riot Games, franchising not only allows them to have more control and influence over Valorant esports, but also create a more stable and sustainable ecosystem, generate more revenue, and enhance their reputation and credibility.
However, it also requires them to invest a lot of money upfront, take more responsibility and accountability, balance the interests and expectations of all stakeholders, and deal with more criticism and scrutiny from the community.
Franchising offers partnered teams added security and stability. It also provides financial support and incentives, along with exposure and recognition. Additionally, it encourages them to invest more in their rosters, staff, facilities, content, and fan engagement.
However, it also imposes more pressure and expectations on them, compel them to comply with Riot Games’ rules, standards, and vision, limit their flexibility and autonomy, and increase the competition and rivalry among them.
For non-partnered teams, franchising creates more opportunities and incentives for them to compete and improve. Additionally, foster more innovation in the scene, and inspire more passion and motivation among them.
However, it also creates more difficulties for them to enter or succeed in the regional leagues or Masters, widen the gap between them and partnered teams, discourage some of them from pursuing their dreams or passions in Valorant esports, and reduce the diversity and innovation in the scene.
For players, franchising ensures more stability and security for them, creates more opportunities and incentives for them to grow and develop, increases the level of competition and professionalism among them, and enhances their career prospects and visibility.
However, it may also reduce their opportunities and incentives to switch teams or regions, create more stress and burnout among them, affect their personal lives and well-being, and create more conflicts and disputes among them, teams, and Riot Games.
For fans, franchising provides more entertainment and excitement for them, enables them to support their favorite teams and players more easily and effectively, foster more loyalty and engagement among them, and attract more fans to Valorant esports.
However, it may also reduce the excitement and unpredictability of Valorant esports, alienate some fans from their favorite teams or players, create more confusion and complexity for them, and divide the community into different factions or regions.
Valorant franchising is a bold move by Riot Games to take Valorant esports to the next level.
It has many potential benefits and challenges for all stakeholders involved. But also requires a lot of collaboration and cooperation among Riot Games, partnered teams, non-partnered teams, players, fans etc. to make it work. In addition, needs a lot of time and patience to see the results and impacts of this new system.
Valorant franchising is a new chapter in the history of Valorant esports, and we are excited to see how it unfolds.