Riot Reveals All 30 Partnered Teams for VCT 2023
After months of anxious waiting, the future of VALORANT esports has been unveiled. Following the breakout success of its tactical shooter, Riot Games is moving to a partnered league system featuring 30 teams split into three regions of 10 teams each. VCT 2023 will begin with a bang in Sao Paulo for a kickoff tournament featuring all 30 squads in VALORANT’s biggest international tournament yet.
In their announcement, Riot stressed the competitive nature of the application process and revealed their criteria for selection. First, they selected teams that are committed to celebrating diversity and supporting their players. Second, they wanted teams that can create enticing brands and strong connections with their fans. Finally, they focused on organizations that are built for the long haul with sustainability in mind. Competitive success in the first two years of VCT did not factor in all that much to the partner selections, resulting in some unexpected omissions.
The Americas region consists of NA, LATAM, and Brazil and is home to some of the biggest names in VALORANT. From North America, 100 Thieves, Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, NRG, and Sentinels have been accepted as partners. They’ll be joined by the recently crowned Champions winners, LOUD, as well as Furia and MIBR from Brazil. The two most prominent teams in LATAM, Leviatán and KRÜ Esports, will round out the Americas region.
Right off the bat, there’s one glaring omission in OpTic Gaming. The world’s most successful team through two years of VCT play, OpTic is coming off a second-place finish at Champions and attended all but one international event.
Other big names from NA missing the cut include the most recent Challengers winner in XSET as well as FaZe, TSM, and The Guard. G2 was also reportedly seeking a North American slot but did not receive an invite.
At first glance, EMEA features many of the region’s most prominent teams but also brings some names that might be unfamiliar to VALORANT fans. Fnatic and Team Liquid are two of the most recognizable brands in all of esports, and they’ve been consistent presences on the international stage.
At Champions, we saw how much Turkey loves VALORANT, and those fans will have both BBL Esports and FUT Esports (previously Futbolist) to root for. Spanish fans find themselves very well represented with three teams – Giants, Team Heretics, and KOI – joining the EMEA league. Karmine Corp and Team Vitality will carry the banner for France while Natus Vincere will be the lone squad from the CIS region.
While most of these organizations have made their presence felt within the region, some are relatively new to VALORANT. In particular, Karmine Corp and KOI both entered the scene in 2022 and have played mostly in the VRL regional leagues. Both orgs bring massive fanbases built via popular streamers and success in another Riot title, League of Legends.
Of course, in a region as large and varied as EMEA, some teams were going to be left behind. On the outside looking in are orgs like FPX, Excel, Guild, G2, and Acend. Overall, Riot has gone for teams with big followings and representing a variety of locales within EMEA.
The third and final league will see teams compete in Seoul but hail from all across the region. From Japan, ZETA Division and DetonatioN Gaming will represent a country with a ravenous fan base. Korea will have three orgs in Gen.G, T1, and DRX. Gen.G and T1 have both competed primarily in North America, but have major connections to Korea and experience with Riot via League of Legends.
The remaining teams represent a variety of different APAC countries. Team Secret is a global org currently fielding the former Bren Esports roster from the Philippines. Paper Rex features a multinational roster of Singaporean, Indonesian, and Malaysian players. Rex Regum Qeon is an Indonesian org with a Filipino roster. Talon Esports will represent Thailand, and finally, Global Esports is an Indian organization.
Notable exceptions include Northeption and Crazy Racoon from Japan, Xerxia and Boom Esports from APAC, and Damwon from Korea. Additionally, there are no teams from Australia or New Zealand.
Ultimately, it will be incredibly interesting to see how this region plays out. There are far fewer established teams here than in any other league but still plenty of talent to be discovered. Teams like DRX and Paper Rex have shown that they can compete with the world’s best, so they should be the pacesetters for the Pacific Region.
While some of the 30 teams selected may come as a surprise, the overall field looks incredibly healthy and competitive. As Riot moves into a new era of VALORANT, these organizations will be the standard bearers for the esports scene and the game at large.
Meanwhile, they are not abandoning the second tier of professional VALORANT. Teams will continue to compete in Challengers for the chance to earn a spot in the top leagues via the Ascension tournaments starting next year.