Why Valorant’s future hinges on China success

Published: 27/Jan/2021 7:29 Updated: 28/Jan/2021 5:53

by Andrew Amos


When you look at an esport, China is the big market to tap into. It’s what’s breathed a lot of success into League of Legends, PUBG, and most recently, a resurgence in Overwatch. Now, Valorant has to crack into it if it wants to not just survive, but thrive in the world of esports.

Riot surprised players by releasing Valorant to the world on June 2 worldwide, just months after revealing the game and a two-month beta period. However, ‘worldwide’ wasn’t quite true. The game never launched in China.

To this day, Valorant still isn’t freely available in China. Riot has lodged trademarks for the game, but nothing has come of it just yet. There’s no planned release date.

That hasn’t stopped players from picking it up though, and organizations are flocking to Riot’s next big title after League of Legends exploded in the region during the 2010s.

This is important. In fact, it could make or break Valorant. Without China’s player base, Valorant may not be able to survive as long as players would hope. However, with China, it could become the next global phenomenon in gaming.

Valorant in China is growing despite no official support

It’s hard to exactly gauge how successful Valorant is in China. No official launch means Tencent isn’t really going to be tracking the numbers yet. Plus, Riot hasn’t run any official tournaments yet ⁠— they’re not a part of the Valorant Champions Tour.

However, there’s still plenty happening in terms of esports that you may have missed. Big name organizations like Edward Gaming, Suning, and Royal Never Give Up have picked up the title. Even Chinese social media site Weibo has a team. While the prize money isn’t there yet, nor any pathway out of the region, that’s only a handful of dozens of teams vying for a top spot.

Most of these pros have to come from somewhere too, and they’re poaching from some of the biggest games in the region. CrossFire, Overwatch, PUBG, and even CS:GO players have made the jump to Valorant ⁠— albeit not as quickly as some Western players did.

There’s tournaments run by Huya and Douyu, two massive streaming platforms. Chinese teams often play against Korean and Japanese talents like Vision Strikers and JUPITER. While they’re not as good as Koreans right now, one only has to look at League of Legends to see how quickly Chinese talent took over once it got going.

There was a big contention on whether the game will perform in China. However, from the outside looking in, as the prize pools get into the tens of thousands and more orgs start showing interest, it’s definitely got the esports side down pat. It’s just a matter of if casual players jump across. That’ll be the money maker.

Crossfire header
Valorant has more threats in the Chinese market between CrossFire (pictured), PUBG, and more.

Is Valorant the “CrossFire” killer in China?

The one question that now looms over Valorant, above all else, is a parallel to one drawn in the West: can Valorant topple CrossFire as the region’s premier FPS? CrossFire is ostensibly CS:GO, and while it’s definitely not as glamorous, as far as games go, it’s huge.

CrossFire has a reported 1 billion players as of February 2020, and a peak of over 8 million concurrents. In comparison, League of Legends’ peak player count is 8 million concurrent. The peak in China is 100 million daily players in Honor of Kings (aka Arena of Valor, a mobile MOBA).

You can read into the numbers as you will, but CrossFire has spawned TV spinoffs and film adaptations, and it being a “cultural phenomenon” is too small a term to describe its impact.

There’s also the PUBG question ⁠— the battle royale’s mobile presence goes a long way in capturing gamers in a region where mobile gaming is king.

It goes to show how big a mountain Valorant has to climb. However, there is hope yet. The game isn’t out yet, and there’s already some competitive appeal. Riot being Riot, and Tencent being Tencent, there’s a chance Valorant gets traction.

Will it make or break the esport? Potentially, with a huge launch in China, Valorant becomes the CS:GO killer in the West.

Regardless, the more of the Chinese market Riot can tap into, the better. If it’s successful, they might have an iron grip on esports for the years to come.

League of Legends

LCS Spring 2021 power rankings after Week 3

Published: 24/Feb/2021 7:55 Updated: 24/Feb/2021 7:58

by Andrew Amos


LCS Spring 2021 is now underway. With Lock In to reflect on, some teams are living up to expectations, while others are still a long way from contention. Here’s where teams stack up heading into Week 4.

In 2021, Dexerto is proud to present power rankings for League of Legends in the LCS. We will be tracking the performance of all the teams right here, considering their form, how they’ve performed with their strength of schedule, and more.

After a disappointing Worlds 2020, NA teams like Golden Guardians and FlyQuest heavily invested in rookie talent. However, the stage fright might be kicking in for some, having to contest big spenders like Cloud9 and TSM.

Who’s on top after Week 3, and primed to dominate in Week 4? Check out our power rankings for LCS Spring 2021 Week 4 below.

10. Golden Guardians (-1)

Short-term pain, but is there any gain?

Stixxay playing for CLG in LCS
Riot Games
Golden Guardians’ one-dimensional strategy around Stixxay is too easy to beat.

Golden Guardians’ experiment with rookie NA talent was going to come with shortcomings. However, it’s been a lot more painful. Niles and Iconic have looked incredibly rough around the edges, getting constantly gapped no matter the opponent.

There’s only so much Stixxay can do for this squad. When your top side loses by default no matter the matchup, it really puts pressure on the bot side to step up. However, there’s just no real winning lanes for Golden Guardians right now, and it puts them behind in every game. Hopefully this roster can bring it together come Summer, but it’s going to be a long ride.

9. Counter Logic Gaming (+1)

Broxah is helping…somewhat

Broxah playing for Team Liquid in the LCS
Oshin Tudayan for Riot Games
CLG look better with Broxah, but the road is still long.

CLG are starting to look better with Broxah. While he isn’t the divine intervention the CLG faithful were hoping for, the squad looks a bit more cohesive. The addition of Pobelter could help ⁠— rjs was spotted playing in Academy during the United Grand Prix this week, so a substitute could be in order.

However, CLG’s dreams of achieving anything in Spring are well behind them. The best they can hope for is a solid finish in Summer if they work on their late-game macro. They’ve got the roster firepower, now they just need to convert on the strategy.

8. FlyQuest (-1)

No Diamond hands here

Diamond playing LCS for Cloud9 Academy
Riot Games
Diamond is the weak link on FlyQuest.

FlyQuest are really struggling. Josedeodo is the shining light for this squad, but the rest of the map is playing questionably. Diamond specifically has been put under the spotlight with his questionable plays. His Thresh performance against Immortals didn’t help the sentiment either.

Dreams could be on the cusp of a call-up at this rate. The former Schalke 04 support would be a definite upgrade over Diamond in his current state. With playoffs almost out of the picture, FlyQuest might want to stick it out with Diamond to give him more time in the LCS, but changes need to be made if they want to even make playoffs in Summer.

7. Immortals (+1)

Good, but not good enough

Destiny playing for Origen in the LEC
Riot Games
Immortals are a solid roster, but lack the experience to crack the top echelons of the LCS.

Immortals are looking solid. However, the rest of the LCS is just simply a cut above. There’s a lot of highlights on this roster ⁠— Insanity is living up to his name with some huge performances to net this squad some key wins, while Revenge is continuing to prove the doubters wrong with some stellar LCS performances.

The big questions for Immortals still remain in the bot lane. While Raes is starting to warm up into the LCS, he’s still playing timidly behind his super-aggressive support Destiny. With a bit of time though, Immortals could very well prove to be a thorn in the side of most LCS teams’ sides.

6. Evil Geniuses (-1)

Jiizuke’s champion pool is constricting genius

Jiizuke playing for Evil Geniuses in LCS
Oshin Villa Tudayan for Riot Games
Jiizuke’s champion pool has hamstrung Evil Geniuses.

Evil Geniuses are playing alright, but the same issues are plaguing this squad. Jiizuke’s champion pool is limiting their potential ⁠— although his Yone against Liquid was clean. They’ve fallen into the same routine every game: funnel into Jiizuke and Deftly, and play hard engage.

One has to wonder if this squad has already hit its ceiling, and now other teams are starting to accelerate past them. Maybe an innovation in strategy is due. However, ranking Evil Geniuses sixth is a bit harsh in number. They’re still a good squad, but their game plans are more figured out than the five ahead of them.

5. 100 Thieves (-3)

Is the synergy buff running out?

100 Thieves stumbled hard in Week 3 of LCS Spring 2021, which is raising a lot of the same questions many have about Evil Geniuses. The big thing 100 Thieves had running into this year was the pre-existing synergy, but as the weeks roll on by, that advantage dwindles.

Their 56 minute loss to Golden Guardians has raised a lot of eyebrows though. The fact they managed to salvage that game is one thing, however 100 Thieves’ early and mid-game need some work to become a top-quality team, because they cannot rely on games going long and them winning the 45-minute fight.

4. Dignitas (+2)

“No imports no imports no imports”

dardoch dignitas lcs
Dardoch doesn’t have a champion pool, or a champion ocean. He has something even bigger, and it’s helping Dignitas.

With all the drama around imports in the LCS, it’s refreshing to see Dignitas get a team of five McDonald’s workers together and find success. Just look at how they took down TSM on Sunday.

It goes without saying, but Aphromoo is proving to be the glue that holds this roster together, with his veteran leadership really rubbing off. Dardoch’s champion ocean is still holding strong, and Neo and Soligo look on fire as two promising young guns. This Dignitas roster has the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs if they can stay composed.

3. Team Liquid (=)

Sliding down the ladder fast

Liquid have shown glimpses of brilliance. They played amazingly around Santorin in their Cloud9 flogging on Sunday. They won Lock In. However, they aren’t really as polished as you’d expect. Jensen is having a rough split, and so is the bot lane of Tactical and CoreJJ.`

If Liquid can unlock their potential ⁠— putting Alphari on weak side, enabling Tactical and CoreJJ to carry from bot ⁠— they can still turn their fortunes around. However, they look a bit lost on the Rift right now, and if they don’t finish soul searching soon, it could have dire consequences.

2. TSM (+2)

A rapid turnaround

Huni smiles in TSM "Legends" LCS video series on YouTube.
YouTube: TSM
It’s all smiles for TSM.

TSM would have likely finished this week first in our power rankings had they not fallen to Dignitas on Sunday. They are seemingly as clean and polished a team as they come, and you’d have to think their ceiling as a squad is insanely high.

Their rapid turnaround across the last two weeks has been stellar. Their macro is the best in the league ⁠— huge hats off has to go to SwordArt for that ⁠— and with a bit more time, their micro and teamfighting will improve. TSM are a real delight to watch right now; and I hate to say it, but they could be instilling hope in NA fans for when Worlds 2021 comes around.

1. Cloud9 (=)

Still on top, but the pack is closing in

Cloud9 have some competition breathing down their neck. They’re still NA’s best team for now, but the Big 3 everyone was talking about at the start of the LCS is more like a Big 6. That doesn’t mean we should downplay Cloud9 though ⁠— Perkz and Zven are on fire.

There’s not really much more to say about Cloud9 that hasn’t already been said. They cleanly execute game plans, never really give up leads, and know how to punish the rest of the opposition. Vulcan said that his squad can really punish the other nine teams, and their actions are speaking louder than words.

LCS Spring 2021 continues for Week 4 on February 26.