Welcome to the new age: Why esports teams and pro players are so willing to hop on the VALORANT hype train

Grab a seat while you still can.

Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

It’s been only a month since VALORANT debuted its closed beta, but the tactical shooter has already become one of the biggest PC titles on the market. Not only has it quickly become one of the most popular names in its genre, but it’s picking up a ton of steam on the esports front as well.

Multiple established teams have already shown their dedication to the budding VALORANT esports scene, and professional players from various games have already jumped ship to take a seat on the game’s ever-growing bandwagon.

From CS:GO to the Overwatch League, we’ve seen many familiar faces switch over in the span of weeks—even though the game isn’t widely available for everyone, and Riot Games’ plans for VALORANT esports haven’t been clearly outlined just yet.

The big question that many people have asked themselves is: Why are both esports teams and players so quick to hail VALORANT as the next big thing in their esports careers?

Built on reputation

Photo via Riot Games

This isn’t Riot Games’ first rodeo when it comes to nurturing a new esports scene. Over the past 10 years, Riot created what is now arguably the most popular esport in the world with League of Legends.

League events blossomed immensely over this period of time, from the game’s first World Championship at DreamHack Summer to now selling out Madison Square Garden and similar arenas around the globe at the snap of a finger.

Players and teams can’t help but trust in Riot’s ability to cultivate an esports scene that is here to stay for years to come. Esports organizations and players have seen first-hand how much work and patience Riot is willing to put into making League esports one of the biggest names in the industry—VALORANT is in good hands to make its competitive scene flourish just as much as League‘s.

Photo via Riot Games

“An esport is something that grows from a game and I think that we’re going into this hoping and wanting this to be an esport—a really big esport if that’s what the community is looking for,” Riot executive producer Anna “SuperCakes” Donlon said in a interview with ESPN.

Donlon also said that Riot wants the VALORANT esports scene to grow and take shape with the player base, instead of being forced into fruition. An example of this is the Overwatch League, which had plenty of potential in the beginning but tried to run before it could walk.

Photo via Riot Games

There have been a plethora of issues plaguing Overwatch‘s pro scene, but one big problem that cropped up recently is Blizzard’s constant struggle with balancing the game for both pro and casual play. In response, the Overwatch developers added role lock and hero pools—which are both widely hated by the professional Overwatch community.

As a result, multiple players decided to step away from the game to find a new path with VALORANT.

Find your form and find your passion

Photo via Overwatch League

In the world of esports, burnout has become a bigger and bigger problem over the past few years, with players falling in and out of relevancy at a shift of the meta. Sometimes, sweeping changes can cause burnout towards a player’s enjoyment of the game, making competitive play seem more like work and less for fun.

For players who feel like the sun has set on their career, or their respective game doesn’t give them the same happiness, VALORANT represents a new world in which they can find passion for competitive esports once again.

Whether you’re a young star looking to make your mark on a new, untouched landscape or a veteran trying to reignite your competitive spirit, there’s so much room to grow with an esports scene that hasn’t even fully formed yet.

Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

Riot needs to be wary of how many known commodities join the league, though. Again, the growth of the league has to stay relatively organic. Everyone loves stories of new, unknown names that slowly become superstars through seasons of hard work and experience. Remember, at one point, nobody knew who Faker and s1mple were.

The starting points might all be different, but the end goal is the same: to become the best players in the world.

Ready, set, battle

Lastly, it makes sense for players and teams to get a head start with VALORANT, since the early adopters can develop rosters, strategies, and grow their understanding of the competitive scene.

We’ve seen organizations jump into esports that haven’t panned out well, which is tragic for the investments that they must make along the way. But when a team jumps into an esports early and it grows, they have the potential to become a pioneer and a leader.

Photo via Riot Games

TSM and Cloud9 were two of the first teams to join the LCS back in 2013. Both teams jumped into an budding esport that had the potential to become something great, even though it wasn’t guaranteed. It was a risk that needed to be taken.

Because they were one of the first organizations to join the North American LCS, they were able to build and grow their knowledge of the game and its fundamentals, allowing them to create a dedicated fanbase and a legacy that will always be connected to League.

Every team and player is looking over the edge of the cliff at the unknown waters below. There are so many variables, and so many things that could go wrong. If VALORANT does become something big in the future, then people will look back at this year to see which teams and pros had the courage and foresight to take the plunge.