Earlier this year Riot Games announced their partnership plan for the 2023 international competitive VALORANT scene. Surprising many, Riot announced that they would institute a partnership plan where organizations would need to apply for a limited number of spots to compete in the 2023 tier one competitive scene.
At the time, details about the number of spots per region were sparse, but hundreds of teams from across the world applied for the opportunity to continue to compete on the big stage in 2023.
Only a few months ago, Riot followed up on their partnership statement with an explanation of how the regions would be divided. The format they chose is a three-league series with ten partnered teams in each league. The three leagues would consist of an all EMEA league, an Americas league (NA, LATAM, SA), and a Pacific league (APAC, Korea, and Japan).
At the time they did not announce the division of teams in each league, meaning the number of spots per region was not clear. However, the 2022 system had well over 30 teams actively competing across the world, making the partnership process particularly worrying for many teams.
Riot Games Partnership Guidelines
Before this week, Riot’s standards for partnership were not made public. However, alongside their partnership announcement, Riot released their three guidelines for partnership consideration. The three parameters Riot was looking for when deciding which teams would receive partnership is as follows:
- Organizations who share our values of always putting fans first, celebrate our diverse community, and are committed to supporting pros.
- Organizations who have created a strong connection with their fans through engaging content, a compelling brand, and an exciting roster.
- Organizations who build for the long-term, with a focus on sustainability.
While all of the partnered teams likely meet these standards, there is another trend among them. Most, but not all, of the partnered teams have worked or currently work with Riot in some capacity. The most common relationship is that most of the partnered organizations have League of Legends teams.
While this is not true for all of the teams, having a LoL team definitely gave a boost to some of the less popular organizations over some more prominent names.
The first, and most exciting league of the three, is the Americas League. The split of regional teams Riot selected for this league is five NA teams, three Brazilian teams, and two LATAM teams. The teams selected are as follows:
- 100 Thieves
- Evil Geniuses
- LOUD Esports
- FURIA Esports
- KRÜ Esports
Notably, North America’s top two teams were left without partnership. Both OpTic Gaming, the best performing team—across all regions—this year, and XSET were not chosen to receive partnership.
Interestingly, Evil Geniuses, a team that has never made an international appearance, did make partnership. Despite their lack of performances, EG does currently have a League of Legends team competing in the LCS, Riot’s North American league.
Recognizing their decorated history in the competitive tactical shooter scene, Riot decided to give EMEA an entire league to themselves. Similar to the Americas League, a few of the quieter teams to qualify do have League of Legends teams in the LEC. In fact, six of the partnered teams have LoL teams in Europe.
Regardless, the ten EMEA teams selected for partnership are as follows:
- Team Liquid
- Team Vitality
- Karmine Corp
- Team Heretics
- FUT Esports
- BBL Esports
The final league in Riot’s three-league system is the Pacific League. Combining the most regions to make up its ten teams, the Pacific League offers the most regional diversity, but likely the least amount of competition.
The highest placing team at an international event in this league is a fourth place contender. The other two leagues have multiple international winners and runners-up.
Levels of competition aside, the ten Pacific teams selected for partnership are as follows:
- ZETA DIVISION
- DetonatioN Gaming
- Team Secret
- Paper Rex
- Rex Regum Qeon
- Talon Esports
- Global Esports
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