Riot Games has announced that it is expanding the VCT Challengers ecosystem, which will also offer promotion to the upcoming international Valorant leagues.
Starting in 2023, the revamped VCT Challengers ecosystem will encompass 21 leagues across three major regions (Americas, EMEA and Pacific) to provide more players with opportunities to showcase their skills and climb up the Valorant ladder.
The Challenger Leagues will begin with open qualifiers and will pit teams against each other across two splits of multi-week regular season play. In each split, the best teams will compete in the playoffs to determine a league’s champion.
The biggest Challenger Leagues will have dedicated broadcast windows to avoid conflict with the upcoming international leagues as Riot wants to make sure that “players and teams receive the attention their skills deserve”.
Promotion to international leagues
Riot has confirmed that there will be a pathway from Challengers into the international leagues via a new event series called Ascension. The winners of these tournaments will be crowned the best team in their region and earn a spot in the following year’s international league.
The developer is currently in talks with organizations from around the world to fill the 30 partner slots in its three international leagues. The organizations that are accepted into the partnership program will receive an annual stipend of at least $600,000.
With the promotion system in place, the international leagues will expand by one team until hitting a cap of 14 teams in 2027. The teams that win the Ascension tournaments will secure a two-year promotion into their region’s international league — during which they will receive the same benefits as a partner side, and have an equal chance to qualify for Masters events and Valorant Champions.
After this two-year window, a team will return to their Challenger League to battle their way back to the region’s highest tier of competition.
Riot Games hopes the new Challenger ecosystem “will be a key part of VCT’s long-term success”. More information about the open qualifiers in each region and the schedule for the Challenger Leagues and the Ascension tournaments will be released in the fall after the conclusion of the 2022 VCT season with Valorant Champions.