Goldenboy weighs on VALORANT partnered leagues: ‘Grassroots are key’

Goldenboy calls for support for tier-two VALORANT.

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

With more organizations exiting VALORANT esports host Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez is “cautiously optimistic” for the title’s future with franchising. 

More organizations continue to exit VALORANT esports after being notified that they were not selected by Riot Games in its search for partners in exclusive regional leagues. The latest examples are Akrew, Knights, and NYFU, who all announced they would be moving on from the game, leading many to question whether non-partnered teams will be supported.

A veteran of many esports scenes, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Halo, all of which have introduced partnered leagues in the past few years, Goldenboy expressed his concerns for those not quite able to make it into Riot’s top leagues.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about Riot’s plans for the partnered leagues,” said Goldenboy. “That said, there NEEDS to be communication sooner rather than later regarding what will happen to the T2 community. Esports doesn’t work when it’s built from the top down. Grassroots are key.”

Scott “Custa” Kennedy, a desk analyst for the Overwatch League, pointed out the same thing happened with Overwatch when it franchised in 2017. Custa said that “any team that wasn’t getting a franchising spot just dropped their rosters and left” without having an incentive for organizations to stay. Riot has yet to release a plan for tier-two play and how it could tie into partnership in the future.

Riot announced its partnered league plans for VALORANT early on in 2022, which led hundreds of organizations from around the world to throw their names into the hat in hopes of being selected. There are only a few slots for each new region, with the minimum rumored to be eight teams, while 12 is believed to be the maximum.

Popular North American teams TSM, The Guard, Cloud9, NRG, and Version1 have all been shortlisted for VALORANT partnership by Riot, according to a report by Dot Esports’ George Geddes.