The developer wants to maintain "regional identity."
Riot Games has determined that the 30 teams that made it into VALORANT‘s partnership program are allowed to have only one import player in 2023.
“In order to maintain the regional identity of the VCT Participating Teams that compete in a global competition and to encourage the type of regional identification that is important to fans and sponsors, each Team must maintain, at all times during the Season, at least four (4) Team Members on its starting roster who are Residents who are Residents,” Riot said in the official Roster Construction Rules document for VCT 2023.
The leagues for VCT 2023 will be Americas (North America, Brazil, and Latin America), EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and Asia. The countries inside each of these demographic regions are defined as League Territory, as per Riot’s ruling.
“For example, the United States and Brazil are part of the Americas League Territory, and Germany and Nigeria are part of the EMEA League Territory,” Riot said. This effectively means that one of the five North American organizations in the America league (Sentinels, Cloud9, 100 Thieves, NRG, and Evil Geniuses) can have a full Brazilian roster if they want to. But these teams can only have one player from EMEA or Asia, for example.
T1, who is an Asia league partner, currently has a roster almost entirely comprised of North American players and will have to drop almost all of them to complete the relocation.
These import rules will make the lives of teams that were turned down for a partnership spot harder. OpTic Gaming and XSET, for example, failed to secure a franchising spot, and the only way their rosters can stay together is if an organization from the Americas league picks them up. These rosters can’t relocate to an organization based in EMEA or Asia.
VCT 2023 will kick off with an inaugural tournament in São Paulo, Brazil featuring all 30 partnered teams.