VCT Masters Shanghai makes massive changes to Valorant pro play format

Declan Mclaughlin
VCT Masters

Riot Games has announced big changes to the Valorant Champions Tour Masters tournament format that rewards the best teams for earning top seeds from their international leagues.

VCT Masters Shanghai is around the corner, starting on May 23, and Riot is changing the event format by tweaking its beginning stage.

On May 9, the Global Head of Valorant Esports Leo Faria announced ‘a new segment’ of the event that will increase the competition’s stakes. Starting at the Shanghai event, the highest-seeded Valorant teams will choose their opponents following the Swiss stage, and teams who win their respective VCT leagues will bypass the first stage.

So teams who claim a VCT international league title will get to sit back and watch the lower-seeded squads duke it out in the starting stage of Masters. Then, they can choose the team they think they have the best shot at defeating for their first playoff stage matchup.

Head of Product Strategy for Valorant Esports Bill Pan said there will also be a new broadcast segment for teams picking their opponents that should generate “hype and excitement for our fans.”

The top four seeds will be randomly drawn to decide their pick order.

Riot introduced the Swiss stage in 2024 at Masters Madrid, which only had eight teams attend. Masters Shanghai will feature 12 teams, three from each international league.

Past Masters and Valorant Champions tournaments had teams play through GSL groups, playing a minimum of two matches. In some iterations of this format, the top-seeded teams bypassed this stage as well.

However, across most iterations of the tournament series, earning the highest seed coming into the event mostly meant preferential seeding by the draw, not the choice of opponent.

The changes are building on the success of Masters Madrid, which was the most-watched Valorant esports event to date. Riot hyped up that success and revealed the draw for Masters Shanghai would be taking place directly following the VCT Americas finals on May 12.

Teams are still qualifying for the tournament at the time of writing, as they duke it out against other squads in their leagues for a shot at international glory.

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