Despite regional conflicts, the VCT is more global than ever before, and Riot is happy to embrace it

Despite regional conflicts, the VCT is more global than ever before, and Riot is happy to embrace it ...

More players from across the world are getting the chance to compete on the largest stage as the worldwide VALORANT scene prepares for VCT LOCK//IN, the first tournament of the franchised league.

One of VALORANT's biggest conflicts in the past two years has been the regional divide between North America, EMEA, and Brazil. From loud chants in Berlin and Istanbul to tough-fought Twitter battles, hardcore supporters in certain regions have made it clear their respective teams and players are the best.

But when teams from other regions stepped up last year, they made headlines. By the end of 2022, it became clear that VALORANT was no longer a game dominated by one region.

After a tense off-season, many players who settled in one region of the previous VCT model have switched to new teams on the other side of the world. Riot has made it clear their vision for VALORANT esports is global on many levels, including supporting teams and players with connections to many countries.

"We very much support our teams who want to reach out to different regions around the world," said John Needham, Riot's president of esports. "I think our audience, when they look at these teams, it's not as localized as it is in traditional sports."

Gen.G and T1 are two examples of teams who have successfully completed their VALORANT journeys in North America in 2020, with rosters of players from the United States and Canada. Both opted to pursue franchising in the Pacific league instead.

Why is moving to Asia a good idea for Gen.G and T1 VALORANT?

Gen.G and T1 are well-known for their League of Legends rivalry in Korea, and this move to another Riot esport seems like a natural progression. It was never a problem when both teams played in North America, and Needham, who also oversees League esports at Riot, is optimistic about the possibility of that rivalry continuing.

“Of course we love rivalry, and we want to lean into those stories,” Needham said. “It's fantastic for sport to have two teams that want to compete against one another.”

In 2022, several other unexpected conflicts arose as a result of cross-regional encounters, including the famous OpTic vs. LOUD match that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

The goal is for more of these conflicts and storylines to arise, both within the region and internationally. In order to achieve this, the VCT requires the participation of the entire international community.

“We believe that great partnered teams, on-the-ground broadcasting, partners doing co-streaming, and really leaning towards the notion of highly produced multi-language feeds, we can have a league that represents more than one city, one region, one country,” said Riot's COO of Esports.

Another key step to making VALORANT more global is to expand and support countries that haven't had a chance to shine internationally yet.

The VCT has invited two teams from China, Edward Gaming and FunPlus Phoenix. These teams aren't officially a member of the VCT Pacific league, but Riot is eager to help the game there. There has even been talk of a league forming in China to support the strong gaming culture there.

Riot has officially added a Mandarin broadcast feed to its LOCK//IN coverage, as well as official partner streams on Twitch, where fans around the world can find their community.

As Rozelle noted, things like broadcast and co-stream support in more languages are just tiny steps that will lead to a more positive global environment for VALORANT esports.

Needham said he wants VALORANT to be the world's number one FPS esport.