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Riot announces expansion of VALORANT esports in EMEA

Tom Matthiesen

The VALORANT Champions Tour 2021 has just rounded up, but already Riot Games has announced its plans to speed up the growth of the esport in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) in 2022.

trophy valorant emea

Riot Games' plans for the EMEA region should boast the region's chances to lift the Champions trophy next year too. (Image courtesy of Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

At the top of the competition, the VALORANT Champions Tour undergoes quite a few changes. On a global scale, Riot announced last week, the competitive year will be more condensed, with VCT Champions taking place in September 2022.

VALORANT Champions Tour EMEA

For EMEA teams specifically, more plans have been detailed. Acend, Gambit, Team Liquid, and Fnatic, who represented the region at VCT Champions the past two weeks, receive a direct invite to the 2022 Stage 1 tournament. The other eight of twelve available slots can be obtained through two open and two closed qualifying tournaments. Europe will get to fill four spots, Turkey two, and the CIS region also gets two spots.

Though specifics for VCT Stage 2 have not been given out yet, Riot has shared the framework for that chapter. Qualification is done through the VCT promotion tournament. In this tournament, eight VALORANT Regional League champions compete against the bottom two VCT teams to take over those slots.

vct world

The VALORANT esports global schedule for 2022. (Image courtesy of Riot Games)

Regional Leagues

If you’re not sure what the aforementioned VALORANT Regional Leagues (VRLs) are, don’t worry. They’re new too. Following the example of League of Legend’s ERL system (European Regional League), Riot Games is committing to growing local fan bases in Europe to tap into viewers’ national pride more. The VRLs will be run by partners of Riot, many of whom have experience with running the League of Legends counterpart.

The initial VALORANT Regional Leagues are:

  • Spain (also includes Portugal and Italy), operated by LVP;
  • France (also includes Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg), operated by Freaks 4U Gaming;
  • UK, Ireland & Nordics, operated by Promod Esports;
  • Poland (also includes Eastern Europe and Israel), operated by FRENZY;
  • Commonwealth of Independent States, operated by GIG Me;
  • Middle East and North Africa, operated by Calyx Gaming;
  • Turkey, operated by ESA Esports;
  • DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), operated by Freaks 4U Gaming.

The inaugural season of the VRLs will start on January 24th with qualifier tournaments. On February 14th, the VRLs kick off their leagues. At the end of the journey, the best VRL teams compete against each other, in similar fashion to League of Legends’ European Masters tournament.

Game Changers

Riot Games also announced a few details for its Game Changers program, which was introduced to help people of marginalized genders find their footing in esports and give them a path to success. In 2022, there will be three VCT Game Changers EMEA events. The first one takes place in January, the second one in May, and the third one in September. The winning teams qualify for the Game Changers global event, set to take place in November 2022.

Further development of the Game Changers program includes a Game Changers EMEA Academy, a six-part tournament series, where up-and-coming talent can compete to jump into the spotlight. Riot EMEA is planning to weave all Game Changers tournaments into the VCT year without overlap, allowing teams to compete in non-Game Changers tournaments as much as possible.

Regional Circuits

To round up their plans for 2022, Riot Games plans on hosting VALORANT Regional Circuits (VRCs). Though they haven’t detailed exactly what these tournaments look like and in what way they’ll differ from Regional Leagues, it appears that the Regional Circuits are aimed at those who are just starting their competitive VALORANT journey. If VCT Masters is tier 1 and the VRLs are tier 2, VRCs make up tier 3 in the EMEA region.

Amateur teams will be able to compete in a yet-to-be-revealed amount of tournaments throughout the year. Through their performances, they’ll accumulate circuit points. At the end of the season, the VRC teams with the most points compete in a tournament to crown themselves circuit champions.

What to watch

With the expansion of the EMEA region’s competitions, the VALORANT esports team plans to bring more action to the eyes of the viewers as well. All VCT events will be broadcast in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Polish, and Arabic at minimum. Currently, Riot plans on broadcasting the following competitions:

  • VCT Qualifiers;
  • VCT Regular Season Stages 1 and 2;
  • VCT Masters Stages 1 and 2;
  • VCT Promotion Tournament;
  • EMEA Last Chance Qualifier;
  • VCT Champions 2022;
  • EMEA Game Changers Tournaments;
  • All VALORANT Regional Leagues;
  • VALORANT Regional League Finals.

More VALORANT esports details for the EMEA region will be revealed as the year progresses.