Valorant’s launch was among the most successful any game has ever seen, and it almost toppled Riot Games’ League of Legends Worlds viewership in 2020. The beta key drops from Twitch streams had millions of players waiting hours every day to get their hands on a code and play the game. India is one of the many regions that was promised a server last year, which created a lot of hype in the country, and fans expected the game to be the next big esport. But things haven’t exactly gone as planned, and while the country did get local servers, we were left out of the Valorant Champions Tour with no slots being reserved for India. Just days after the VCT format announcement, Riot Games announced its entry into India and giving the local fans hope that things might change in the coming months. But what does Riot have in store for India? Let’s find out.
What Team Organizers Are Saying About Riot Games’ Involvement in India
Skyesports founder and CEO Shiva Nandy told AFK Gaming that India is the only country to have a dedicated server, which is a massive step for Indian esports. It will take time to understand the intentions and commitments towards India by Riot. According to Nandy, Riot Games have been supporting India throughout.
“We need to understand their intentions and commitments for India. There might be complications, but it does not mean they don’t have an interest in India. We all should trust in their process. In fact, they never failed to provide licenses for Indian tournaments from Indian tournament organizers. We are getting great support from the publisher to date.”
India has the potential for Valorant and other games like Wild Rift and Legends of Runeterra, two of the most popular mobile titles by Riot Games. There are multiple Masters players from India in LOR, while Wild Rift can become a major force in the region with the lack of alternative MOBA titles.
Riot Games hinted at Indian servers for Valorant, League of Legends, and other titles by the studio back in April 2020. The country did get official Valorant servers in late-2020, but we received no recognition for esports until recently. After its official entry into India earlier this year, we have already received two official tournaments courtesy of a partnership between Riot Games and Red Bull.
The Red Bull Campus Clash is a large-scale collegiate-level event that will allow Indian players to represent themselves internationally. It is hopefully one of many events that Riot Games has planned for us for 2021. Skyesports founder and CEO Shiva Nandy stated, “In 2021, We expect some official tournaments in Q3 or Q4 from the publisher for the Indian region. We hope Riot Games will include India in the roadmap.” This might be one of many events to come to the Indian subcontinent, and hopefully, India finds a place in the Valorant Champions Tour qualifiers next year.
Opinion: What Should Riot Games Focus on To Bolster India’s Valorant Scene?
Here is what we think Riot Games should focus on to bolster India’s Valorant esports scene. These are all initiatives that are already being taken in other regions.
Official Recognition in Events: India is not one of the eligible countries in Riot Games’ official events. This is the first thing that needs to change, to help the country’s players and teams to get the recognition they need. Much smaller regions with less active professional teams could compete in the Valorant Champions Tour Challengers qualifiers while India was left out. Ideally, this will change over the coming months, and the country will be able to compete in the next iteration of the event.
Support Programs for Players: Riot Games Korea introduced an esports support program, as we mentioned earlier, and something similar for India would help bring structure to Indian esports for Valorant. Currently, there are no official federations in India overseeing esports in the country. Such support programs ensure that players get the benefits they deserve from organizations while also getting a platform to compete.
Partnership with Indian Organizations: Currently, all major Valorant esports events are hosted by local organizations like Skyesports and The Esports Club. The studio has partnered with organizations like Mineski in The Philippines to host the First Strike, tournament and they could very well do the same in the region. There have been no official Riot Games events yet except for two recent Red Bull events, one of which was for the collegiate level. If Riot Games partners with local organizations, it can help bolster the competitive scene.
Riot Games introduced its esports support program that allows esports teams to get the necessary funding and resources to compete in official Valorant events. Competent teams who qualify for the Valorant Challengers events are shortlisted by Riot and get into a legal agreement that allows players to be compensated and given all the necessary training and resources.
The esports program assures a bootcamp, full accommodation including meals and other facilities, a salary of $450 or more, and a guarantee that at least 50% of the prize money earned is handed to the players and coaching staff. It is the kind of structure and transparency esports organizations need in India. Currently, we have some organizations like Team MAHI, Samurai Esports and Global Esports that are considered to be among the best in the Asia-Pacific region.
There needs to be more initiative to support the Indian esports scene. Still, things are looking to change, with organizations being hopeful about Q3 and Q4 2021 being important for Valorant in India. More official events and an official platform to compete against at the international level can help take Valorant to the next level in Indian esports.