Not every multiplayer game gets the chance to become a successful esports franchise. But no other game in recent memory has been more poised for esports stardom than Valorant, a tactical first-person shooter game developed by Riot.
This game closely follows the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive game model, which is one of the most popular video games to bet on. So with Valorant’s rise in popularity, it’s sure to see interest from the betting public.
If the name Riot sounds familiar, that’s because the company is responsible for developing League of Legends, which is one of the hottest esports franchises in the world. League of Legends (LoL), similar to Valve’s Dota, is a multiplayer game where two teams of heroes battle it out until one team’s base is destroyed.
While that explanation may sound reductive, LoL is anything but that. The game’s extensive roster of heroes, items, maps, and strategies are all reasons why LoL is still so popular even a decade after its release.
Riot may not have previous experience developing a multiplayer shooter, but they are the best when it comes to developing creative, thoughtful, and addictive multiplayer games.
What is Valorant?
If you’re already familiar with esports, then the nearest comparison to Valorant is Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO.
Both games pit two teams against each other, the objective of the attacking team is to plant a bomb while the defending team tries to stop them. Teams can also win by taking out the opponent, which is sometimes an easier task.
Counter-Strike is a beloved game that’s been around in some form since the early 2000s. It’s only gotten more popular since then, partly because it requires tons of skill to be any good at the game. Counter-strike uses offbeat shooting mechanics that force players to forget all they know about shooters.
From purchasing weapons at the beginning at the game to standing still while shooting, Valorant is a spiritual successor with a giant twist.
Where Counter-Strike relies on generic tough guys, real-world weapons, and different grenade varieties, Valorant takes a different approach. Valorant uses heroes with unique abilities that can impact opponents directly or alter the map’s layout.
The other game that others have compared Valorant to is Overwatch, a game that also uses hero characters with unique abilities, but that’s where the similarities stop.
Overwatch heroes’ abilities use cooldowns, which make the ability available after a brief pause, whereas Valorant heroes must purchase ability uses at the beginning of the match.
In Valorant, well-placed shots and communication will always win the match, and abilities only play a supporting role. Abilities are not powerful or frequent enough for players to go on a rampage, but they can alter the match if used wisely.
One character can erect a wall anywhere on the map, which traps other players or prevents them from engaging in combat. Another character ability can find enemies around corners by throwing an orb.
Strategic abilities are useful, but there are also attack-oriented abilities such as one that creates a blast through walls and another that shoots floating knives at enemies.
The weapon, abilities, and strategies create an abundance of choice, which is what most intrigues fans. With so many multiplayer shooters available, one that feels so nuanced and rich with smart, satisfying gameplay is refreshing.
Valorant has been the most talked-about game in recent weeks, and with its recent release, it is only going to increase in popularity.
Popularity of Valorant
If you feel like playing the game after reading this article, we have some good news for you.
The game is free to play starting June 2, so go ahead and get started playing Valorant now!
For weeks prior to launch, the game had been exclusive. The only way you were able to get a beta access key was to link your riot account with your twitch account and watch streamers play the game.
This may be a contributing factor in its early success. It seems that a high barrier to entry leads people to want to play the game even more.
Nevertheless, Valorant has been received well by streamers, esports pros, and regular gamers alike. There hasn’t been this much hype for a game since Fornite made its debut.
There are several metrics for tracking a game’s success, such as sales numbers, but Twitch is a great way to gauge the game industry’s most popular games.
Valorant has consistently been in the top tier of most-watched games since its closed beta debut, even though it’s not currently available to everyone.
Sure, Fortnite is still king, but the newcomer is edging ever closer to the throne.
It’s already attracted popular players from other esports leagues, and streamers can’t stop playing it.
Esports Pros Switching to Valorant
Valorant is still new to the esports scene, but it’s already poached some top talent from the Overwatch League, a highly-visible esports league barely three years old.
The ex-San Francisco Shock player Jay “Sinatraa” Won left the organization a few weeks ago to play Valorant, a game with no current esports league.
Sinatraa’s departure from the Shock shocked fans and the league, especially since he left in the middle of the season. The OWL pro wasn’t just some scrub, but a player who had won the championship the previous year and was named the season’s MVP. It seems like he was ready for a new challenge.
Shocked we added another world champion? pic.twitter.com/GotPjkcaxr
— Sentinels (@Sentinels) April 29, 2020
While Valorant has yet to establish a league, several esports organizations have already established competitive teams. Sinatraa joined the Sentinels to play Valorant.
Another notable name to enter the Valorant esports scene is Hiko. A legendary professional CS:GO player who has competed at 8 CS:GO major tournaments, recently was the first player signed to the 100 Thieves pro Valorant team.
100 THIEVES ENTERS VALORANT
— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) June 4, 2020
Other players from different esports have done the same, which leads many to believe, myself included, that Valorant is soon to be an esports phenomenon.
The Future of Valorant Esports
Though esports has been thrust into the mainstream in recent years, there are not as many supporters because esports is not a monolithic activity.
Overwatch, CS: GO, Rainbow Six Siege, and other games have their esports league, but this fragmented structure is a disadvantage when compared to traditional sports.
While baseball, football, and basketball are each a single sport, esports is a genre with many sub-genres, which makes it hard to attract new fans.
But if Valorant’s player base continues to grow, it only makes sense that it will be one of the most-watched esports. Players like to watch professional players compete in games that they’re familiar with.
Another issue that presents itself with esports is that it’s hard to read what’s on the screen. Unless you have experience playing the game, watching esports matches can look like chaos, but Valorant is less extreme, and I believe its gameplay is easier to follow.
Depending on the game, matches tend to be hectic and only make sense to those who have themselves spent countless hours playing the game. Though esports use “shoutcasters,” similar to sportscasters in traditional sports, newcomers may find it challenging to keep up.
Traditional sports make sense, as they usually involve players interacting with a ball. Now, imagine those same players leaping in the air and using special abilities while shooting other players to complete an objective.
But here’s the thing about Valorant: it’s much easier to understand.
Because the abilities are less frequent than in other games, screens aren’t always filled with brightly colored projectiles and over-the-top gimmicks. Valorant promises a simple, yet hard to master, approach to gameplay: Two teams shooting each other until one team wins.
Whereas games like Call of Duty are fast-paced and last a shorter time, Valorant stretches out a match into multiple rounds.
Valorant matches are best-of-24, so teams that manage to win the majority of 24 rounds win the game. Two dozen rounds sound like a lot, but each round lasts only a few minutes, and there is no automatic respawn. When players are killed, they must wait until the next round.
Each round is a self-contained challenge, and teams can regroup and change their strategies between rounds. After the 12th round, teams switch roles from attack to defense, and vice-versa.
Because rounds are short and stretched out over a longer period, I think fans will have an easier time grasping what’s happening on screen.
Fans don’t need to be glued to the screen 30 minutes at a time. Valorant matches are less than 2 minutes, so the action is nonstop for 2 minutes straight.
Short rounds are a perfect way to grab someone’s attention, with the action and stakes growing higher as each round passes by. It’s easier to watch for a few minutes at a time, especially when the game is so straightforward, with small, creative maps that are easy to remember.
When Valorant does debut on the esports stage, the potential for it is limitless.
Valorant’s public debut is nearing, and it won’t be long until Riot starts an esports league for their game. If Valorant is half as successful as LoL, it may be the most popular multiplayer shooter in the last decade, but that remains to be seen.
When the Valorant esports league is eventually established, professional esports organizations will flock to it, and esports gambling will rise. With short round times, easy-to-understand gameplay, and backing from an established video game developer, Valorant is poised to take over the esports scene.
What are some other reasons Valorant will be a good game to make bets on? Let me know what you think in the comments.