Expect to see some familiar faces.
As the highest tier of competitive VALORANT enters a new era next year via the top-level international leagues of the VCT, the tier-two ecosystem is getting an exciting overhaul while taking on the name Challengers.
This global second-tier system will feature 21 different regional circuits throughout the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. EMEA has already been experimenting with regional circuits, with the VALORANT Regional Leagues (VRL) that operated in 2022. Many of those VRLs that ran in regions like Spain, France, and Turkey will roll over into Challengers leagues for 2023, and new leagues for regions like Portugal and Italy will debut too.
Many of the familiar faces from the 2022 VRL scene will be appearing in their respective Challengers leagues for 2023. Tomek Borowka, esports product manager for the VALORANT Challengers Leagues, said that the “majority of teams will retain their slots,” with some already locking in their place for 2023 like MOUZ, Angry Titans, Tenstar, and others.
There will still be plenty of spots that open up for teams to enter the Challengers league. Borowka said that some teams may explore the option of selling their slots, but that would be dependent on the teams’ deals with their region’s respective tournament organizer. Excel Esports, who competed in Polaris last year (Northern Europe), announced back in October that it was putting its slot up for sale.
It will also be up to the organizers to decide how to fill slots left by teams moving up to the EMEA international league. Giants, KOI, and Heretics are all leaving VRL Spain, both Vitality and Karmine are leaving VRL France, and FUT Esports is leaving VRL Turkey. Borowka said that the organizers can fill the slots via “open/closed qualifiers, direct invitations, or an application program.”
Much is still unknown about the Challengers scene next year, including format and roster formation rules, but one thing is for certain. With a two-year promotion to the international league via Ascension on the line, there will be no shortage of talent or interested parties in Challengers next year.