Following months of speculation, Riot Games has officially announced its full list of partner teams for the VALORANT Champions Tour.
In total, 30 teams were selected and will be evenly split into VCT’s three new international leagues: EMEA, Pacific and the Americas.
The announcement sees FNATIC, Team Vitality and NAVI all enter into EMEA’s league, alongside KOI, Karmine Corp, Team Heretics, Giants, FUT Esports and Turkish organisation BBL Esports.
Despite being primarily seen as a North American competitor due to its League of Legends status, Team Liquid has seemingly opted to stay in Europe for VALORANT as it was named one of the ten teams.
Some notable EMEA names not selected for the international leagues are 2021 VALORANT Champions Acend, OG as well as FPX, which operated a prominent European VALORANT roster.
The Americas was one of the hardest leagues to predict which teams would receive partner status, largely due to the strength of competition across LATAM and North America.
In the end, Cloud9, 100 Thieves, Sentinels, Evil Geniuses and NRG were chosen to represent North America. Meanwhile, LOUD, Leviatán, KRU Esports, MIBR and FURIA have been selected as LATAM’s representatives.
Speaking on its inclusion, FURIA co-CEO, André Akkari, told Esports Insider: “This news is bigger than I think most people realise. The new league represents an impressive transformation in the continent’s landscape and selected organisations will have the opportunity to make history in our region and beyond. I am very moved by the news. Thanks to Riot. Their choice represents the validation of the work of a very fierce group of professionals.”
One of the most contentious omissions from the partner list is European esports organisation G2 Esports.
According to multiple reports, the organisation was originally slated to be included in the Americas league, but following the recent controversy with G2 Founder and CEO Carlos ‘Ocelote’ Rodriguez, the decision was made last minute to forego G2 and select another team in its place.
Another shock is the absence of OpTic Gaming, a prominent organisation in the FPS scene. Earlier this month, the team finished second at VALORANT Champions, losing out to LOUD. Other names not making the list include TSM, XSET, The Guard and Ninjas in Pyjamas, the latter of which has recently operated a Brazilian roster.
The full list is a mixture of typically Riot-associated names — Cloud9, 100 Thieves, FNATIC and Team Vitality — as well as organisations that have built a brand around VALORANT’s ecosystem.
Across the Pacific, the full list of teams are Talon Esports, T1, Gen.G, ZETA DIVISION, DetonatioN Gaming, DRX, Team Secret, Paper Rex, Rex Regum Qeon (RRQ) and Global Esports.
Sean Zhang, the CEO of Talon Esports, commented: “We cannot wait to provide a platform for the amazing talent in Thailand; to showcase their distinctive playstyle on both a regional and global scale all whilst contributing in making VALORANT the cultural phenomenon it is becoming today.”
Unlike Riot Games’ League of Legends franchised esports ecosystem, teams will be able to gain a two-year promotion to the international leagues. As such, this doesn’t mean that all the omitted organisations mentioned will be completely gone from the VALORANT scene. Nevertheless, these teams will need to compete in the title’s Challengers Cuircut for at least a full year to gain promotion.
Fans won’t have to wait too long to see all the VCT partnered teams in action with Riot Games announcing that the season will kick off in February. The season will commence with a three-week one-off tournament in Brazil featuring every VCT partner organisation.