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Valorant Champions Tour 2024: Masters Madrid and Beyond

 

A lot of factors come into play in the eSports world. Aside from competitive gaming between the best players and teams across various regions, there are a lot of storylines, rivalries, and arcs for fans to engage with. Riot Games’ first-person tactical shooter, Valorant, is no stranger to the eSports scene by now — albeit fairly new compared to its competitors. A few months after the game’s release in 2020, Riot Games announced the First Strike tournament, the first tournament series aiming to crown the best Valorant teams in various regions worldwide.

In a previous post on the Americas league, we discussed the Americas region of the official Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) held and organized by Riot Games. The Americas is one of four officially recognized regions, followed by EMEA, the Pacific, and the newly added China. Aptly named, the region combines the game’s North and South American teams, ranging from Argentine and Brazilian organizations to North American giants with established divisions in other eSports titles.

Today, years after the first iteration of the First Strike tournament, the VCT has evolved into a structured regional tournament system that builds up to a grand finale at the VCT Champions stage, where teams from various regions battle it out to find the best in the world. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Valorant Champions Tour structure and what fans can expect from this year’s VCT run:

What is the Valorant Champions Tour?

As mentioned above, Riot Games was quick to get Valorant’s eSports scene started. Many eSports organizations, especially in the Americas and EMEA regions, took no time forming their official Valorant rosters as most of the earlier Valorant professionals had prior competitive experience in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) — deemed a competitor or rival to Valorant due to the games’ similar tactical gunplay. The premier First Strike tournament, marking the beginning of Valorant’s eSports legacy, occurred across various regions, including North America, Europe, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, and Turkey.

Today, the Valorant Champions Tour is a structured system that starts off with regional kickoffs before moving onto international stages — the Masters and Champions. The structured tournament system allows many fans to participate actively in the game’s eSports scene. eSports bettors have also taken interest, placing bets on favored teams through various stages of the VCT. 

As detailed by this Valorant betting guide, Riot Games announced a partner system in 2023. This meant that 40 franchised teams — from the four officially recognized regions — compete in a closed circuit system throughout the year, building up to the world championship. At regional stages, each region’s ten teams fight it out to make it to the first international stage of the VCT season Masters. Later in the year, the teams meet again at the Champions stage, where the winning team gains the honor and prestige of being World Champions — the best in the world.

VCT Masters Madrid

Currently, the VCT is at the Masters stage, set in Madrid, Spain. Eight teams — two from each of the four regions — compete against each other in a Swiss stage, four of which will make it to the Playoffs, where the winning team will lift the Masters trophy. Most recently, the tournament officialized the four teams that made it to the playoffs, highlighting a huge upset for the EMEA region as the four playoff teams consisted of only the Americas and the Pacific. North America’s Sentinels and Brazil’s ex-champions LOUD are to represent the Americas, while the Pacific brings Singaporean masters of chaos Paper Rex and South Korean underdogs Gen.G.

The tournament also recently celebrated a milestone as the VCT Masters Madrid viewership peaked at 878.5 viewers. This viewership was attributed to arguably the most popular and clout-fueled match of the tournament, a clash between North America’s favorite Sentinels and France’s Karmine Corp. Both teams are known for their passionate fanbases, which makes the viewership achievement no surprise to analysts and fans alike. These improved numbers are 114.8% better than the figures from 2023’s Masters Tokyo, with average viewership also rising by 86.1%.

Regular season

Credit @Emriquet Wikipedia. No changes made to the image CC BY-SA 4.0

While Masters Madrid is yet to come to an end, fans are already gearing up for the upcoming regular season, set to take place two weeks after we crown the Masters champion. As explained above, 40 franchised teams — ten from each region — will compete in their own regions to set up for the next Masters stage later in the year, set to take place in Shanghai to commemorate the newly introduced China league.

It’s important to note that while the regular season takes place regionally, this stage carries just as much excitement, drama, and adrenaline as the international stages. In 2023, Argentine team KRÜ made their mark in the Americas regular season — for all the wrong reasons. KRÜ Esports’ winless run was a hot topic among fans of the Americas teams as the team struggled to win a single series in the regular season. The team lost all nine matches in the season and failed to qualify for that year’s Masters Tokyo.

As a silver lining, however, KRÜ took their time off during Masters Tokyo to polish their game, ending up with a dominating 5-0 run at the Last Chance Qualifier to make it to the VCT Champions stage set in Los Angeles.

VCT Masters Shanghai and Champions Seoul

Finally, the upcoming regular season would be the final build-up and sprint towards the 2024 Champions stage. Riot Games announced the first-ever Masters tournament in Shanghai almost a year ago. As mentioned above, this was a move that many fans preempted, as the VCT had only recently welcomed China as a fourth region. China was relatively late to Valorant, getting the game’s official release in July 2023, more than three years after its launch for the rest of the world. Masters Shanghai is also going to be the first time the VCT season gets two Masters stages prior to Champions.

All roads lead to the ceremonious Champions stage to be held in Seoul, South Korea. The best 16 teams of the four regions will come together for the final event of the VCT season to determine the 2024 VCT World Champion.

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