In 2023, the first year of the Franchised/Partnership era of Valorant began. There were multiple changes made to the previous International circuit that was present. From each region, ten teams made it to the International League to face the other teams within their respective region and worldwide. In a previous article, we discussed the changes made to the VCT circuit for 2024 within the International League. In this article, we will be discussing the upcoming changes in the VCT Challengers League for 2024.
Challengers League Changes
Before continuing forward, we must point out one significant detail: the Challengers League is considered Tier 2 of Valorant. Valorant has made it clear that it doesn't aim to provide sustainability for organizations that are a part of Tier 2. Instead, they look at the Challengers League as a platform for teams in the International Leagues to scout players to add to their roster. This point is being brought forward to remind readers about the current state of Tier 2 Valorant worldwide.
Returning to the changes in the VCT Challengers league in 2024, we first examine how many splits are present within each region. Each Challenger league will have two splits during the 2024 season. This is similar to last year's format, with the significant difference being that the first split is said to take place in February. Split 1 is said to start in February, with the group stages ending in the middle of April. Comparing this to Split 1 of VCL South Asia, as an example, last year, the group stages took place between the 18th of March and the 9th of April. The second split is said to start in the middle of May, with the group stages concluding in the middle of July.
Following the completion of the group stages of Split 1, the playoff matches will take place in April. Following the completion of playoffs 1, we will have the newly introduced Relegation and Promotion Event between the teams of Challengers Split 1 and the teams within Premier. This special event is said to take place in May, before the start of the group stages of Split 2. Following the completion of the group stages of Split 2, there will be the playoffs, which are said to take place in the middle of July. Following the completion of the playoffs, the winner qualifies for VCT Ascension 2024 for their respective region. There will be another Promotion and Relegation Event, which will take place in mid-August.
Another detail to be noted is that for specific regions, open qualifiers will be present for a spot in the VCL. There will also be invited teams within various regions for VCL 2024 who had previously played in VCL 2023. The following significant change in the schedule of VCL is the placement of the VCT Ascension League for 2024. This year, the tournament took place before VCT Champions 2023 LA. For 2024, VCT Ascension will be taking place after VCT Champions 2024.
Riot stated this change to make sure the Tier 2 competition receives more exposure and doesn't get overshadowed entirely by VCT Champions. One might wonder why there is another Promotion and Relegation event in 2024 following the completion of Split 2. There comes the final change concerning the scheduling of VCL 2024. Unlike this year, there isn't be any OFF/Season in 2024. Instead, the first split of VCL 2025 will start within 2024 itself. The first Split of VCL 2025 is said to take place in October this year.
We have looked at the changes for the scheduling for the upcoming season of the Valorant Champions League in 2024. Those changes are done to ensure players do not have a major gap between high-pressure tournaments, which could provide some form of ring rust. Talking about players having ring rust, last season, we could see various teams have substitute players within their rosters. Most of these substitute players couldn't play a few changes and could only practice in scrims.
To prevent a situation like this from occurring again, Valorant has introduced Affiliate Partnerships. This will enable International League teams to establish affiliate partnerships with Challenger and Game Changers teams. Teams that establish an affiliate will be unlocked to work more closely together on content and commercial deals with one another. An affiliate partnership with Challenger teams must occur in the same region, but an affiliate partnership with Game changer teams has no regional limitations. These partnerships will unlock the possibility of introducing another feature for the upcoming season. This is called Two-Way Players. A Two-Way player will be under contract with a team within the International League. This player will be able to play in the Challengers or Game Changers league for the region of the International Team. The feature has been added in the upcoming season to allow players to play more games and gain more exposure.
The last feature that has been added is called Player Loans. This is very similar to the loaning system that is seen in Football leagues around the world. Two-Way Player and Player Loans might sound similar, but the two have major differences. Player Loans are a way for teams to send their players to play in regions other than their own. Players loaned to another team in the Challengers League cannot come back and play for their initial team until the loan period has been completed. Secondly, the loaned player isn't tied to an affiliated team, and they could be loaned to any team from any region in the Challenges or Game Changers Leagues.
Let us take a small example to provide the difference between the two. Let us take the DRX team for the upcoming season. If DRX signs an Affiliate deal with Scarz, a team from their region, they could send Rb to play for Scarz. Therefore, Rb would come under the Two-Way player who could play for Scarz and DRX in 2024. What if Rb wants to play in another region to gain some more exposure and understanding of another region? DRX now has the option to loan him out to a team either in Europe or even in the Americas. As such, Rb could now be a loan player and play for M80 for the entire loan length. The major catch here is that Rb cannot go back and play for DRX this whole season.
Recap of Changes
- 2 splits
- Relegation between splits, which will give top Premier teams the chance to make Challengers
- Ascension is played in September
- Challengers 2025, starting in October 2024
- SOME regions will have an Open Qualifier (Most EMEA leagues will not have Open Qualifiers)
- Details about Premier's integration into Challengers will be revealed in early November
- Affiliate Partnerships, Two-Way Players, and Player Loans will be added
- Affiliate Partnerships will allow VCT teams to partner with Challengers and GC teams.
- Two-way players are players who can be promoted to VCT if necessary. A VCT team will need to partner with a Challengers / GC team to unlock this
- Player Loans are players who can be loaned out in Challengers and GC, although they are not eligible to play in VCT