A gold mine of knowledge, interaction, and viewership has been growing in the VALORANT tab on Twitch.
The title is still less than a year old, but it's already becoming a force on the streaming platform. It was the fifth most-viewed game in 2020 with over 814 million hours watched, according to Twitch tracking site SullyGnome. As the esports side continues to grow and develop, a familiar concept is giving its competitive viewership a boost: co-streams.
Riot Games began using co-streams in 2018 with League of Legends and the practice has given the numbers for the LCS and LEC a boost. While there's no official program in place for its fledgling VALORANT scene, several notable streamers have hosted watch-alongs, from Liquid's singer/streamer Average Jonas to TSM's resident cheerleader in Myth. All of these streamers bring their own twist and flavor to their co-streams, along with more views and eyes on VALORANT esports.
But a new face has entered the server. Shroud, one of the most iconic and well-known competitive FPS players ever, has begun co-streaming the VALORANT Champions Tour with over one million total views on each of his broadcasts so far. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Shroud effect is providing a huge boon to the game.
Just from a numbers standpoint, the effect of Shroud's co-streams can be seen within the VALORANT category. Each of his VCT co-streams reached over one million total viewers, the highest of any co-streamer. More people were watching his streams than the official broadcasts and he had almost quadruple the total number of viewers that Nerd Street Gamers received.
The good news is that Shroud's streams didn't even take any viewership away from NSG—they just added to the overall VALORANT numbers. NSG's average total viewers per broadcast during the NA Challengers One open qualifiers was 199,000. During the open qualifiers for Challengers Two, that average rose to 225,000. So Shroud's watch parties aren't even a detriment to the main stream, they're just providing a massive boost to the number of eyes on VALORANT esports.
For reference, no LCS or LEC co-streamer even comes close to the viewership numbers on the official streams. Shroud isn't matching the numbers for these VALORANT streams, he's exceeding them by a wide margin.
Shroud's gift of expertise and knowledge
Most people should be well aware of Shroud's competitive history. But in case you aren't, he competed in professional CS:GO for five years and was a bright spot for a North American region that hadn't yet ascended to a level of global contention. In late 2017, he retired from CS:GO and left Cloud9 to continue pursuing his streaming career. And it's safe to say he's done pretty well for himself.
Despite so much time and so many memories in CS:GO, he hasn't shown much (if any) desire to play the game post-retirement. If you search for the game in his broadcast catalog, it yields no results. There's a lot of VALORANT, though, and he's been candid about why he prefers it over Counter-Strike right now.
But CS:GO's loss is VALORANT's gain. Shroud doesn't just provide a statistical multiplier but a wealth of knowledge when it comes to analysis. His insight covers a wide breadth of topics, like when to push and why certain plays and buys are smart. He even makes the explanation for why teams pick and play on Icebox sound simple.
He's not just using this opportunity to school viewers, either. He's genuinely thrilled when sick plays happen and he's also excited to see former teammates, like Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham and Timothy "autimatic" Ta, competing on the servers. The exodus of former NA CS:GO pros to VALORANT has been a tremendous boon to the game's first year and Shroud becoming a bigger part of it has the most upside of all.
Endless possibilities for Shroud the analyst
The first wave of VALORANT co-streams, or watch parties, from Shroud has given the VALORANT Champions Tour a huge boost going forward. At the very minimum, more of these from Shroud means more views and more eyes on the product.
But it also opens the door, ever so slightly, for more exciting opportunities. Assuming Riot eventually brings VALORANT esports production in-house, the company will want to have an analyst desk. It's hard to imagine a better fit when it comes to viewership drawing power and competitive intelligence than Shroud.
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