Made by the creators of League of Legends, Valorant is the newest kid on the block in the esports world. The game has a short history only releasing in June of 2020 but it came out of the gate with plenty of updates and esports planned to keep the game fresh. Having to quickly adapt from its release to the restrictions of live events thanks to COVID the game still managed to become insanely popular to both casual and competitive players blending fans of the older genre and fans of the newer MOBA elements.
In its short life so far Valorant has shown great growth and has a promising future. Taking a lot of inspiration from CS:GO including the ability to buy weapons each round, the game borrows elements from other genres and puts its own twist on the tactical team based FPS genre. On the surface the objective is the same, each round attackers deploy an objective in an area while the defenders try to stop them. The flavour that Valorant adds is the ability to select different “agents” all with access to different abilities that add small but significant effects to the game.
In New Zealand Valorant has seen its share of popularity in the short time it’s been around. Thanks to the toned down mature elements compared to similar games and its free to play price tag it makes it more approachable for younger players.
VALORANT in Esports
With Riot (the game developers) and their years of experience running the biggest esports leagues in the world it was no surprise that competitive leagues were up and running within days of the games launch. With the game having a familiar playstyle to other big esports titles there were even many professional players willing to switch to Valorant. The game had a clear path to pro on launch with formats that were easy to understand and similar to what was working for Riot already. This meant there were professional teams ready to go on day 1 and some of them are still playing today.
With so many professional players having experience in other similar games, the biggest teams became very good very quickly and this meant huge salaries with many of the best earning six figure salaries. Every major region has several leagues they can compete in with each one culminating in the Valorant Champions Tour which has teams around the world competing to represent their region on the world stage for a prize pool of $1,000,000USD. Valorant has also been a popular spectator sport too with the final matches of only the second stage of the VCT in 2021 reaching over 1 million peak viewers.
New Zealand players were very keen to add Valorant to their list of esports and we have a healthy amount of pro players with several moving from games like CS:GO. Valorant has also featured as a popular choice for both secondary and tertiary esports leagues. Like other regions we have our own professional pathways for players to compete in and eventually make it all the way to the VCT itself.
Information for Parents
While there might be a lot going on the screen sometimes, the core of Valorant is easy enough to understand so it’s a bit less intimidating to newer viewers than some other esports. Because it’s round based games can vary a bit in length with some one sided games over in as little as 10 minutes and close games reaching 50 minutes however with overtime the game has a maximum limit of 70 minutes. The game can be very precise so practical skills like reaction speed, hand-eye coordination and muscle memory are developed. Valorant adds teamwork, communication and strategy to that list thanks to the more MOBA based elements they’ve added like the different agents with varying abilities.
Even in the more casual modes of the game players will continue to develop the skills listed above but when you start talking about esports many more skills can become relevant. This can include directly assisting a team through coaching or managing their schedule. It can also extend to working on the broadcasting side such as commentating, directing or even being the “spectator” by controlling the in-game camera for the viewers and the possibilities don’t stop there. With Valorant thriving so soon and looking to stand the test of time now is a great time to get involved in esports for anyone that is passionate.
Valorant gets an age rating of T which makes it much easier for young people to approach compared to other similar but more realistic shooters. Just like Riot’s League of Legends, Valorant features matchmaking for finding most of your games. The feature allows players to queue up together up to a team of 5 or just queue by themselves and the game will find the rest of the team and find your opponents. Just like other tactical shooters the in-game text chat is usually too slow for even casual games so microphones are recommended to play to the best of your ability. The in game voice chat is quite popular and has a mute function if a random teammate gets out of hand. Friends that play together will still usually use a third party program for voice chat like Discord.