Spearheaded by ORDER, competitive Valorant has arrived in Oceania with the inaugural VIS x ORDER Oceanic Valorant Open beginning tomorrow. Here’s The Thing was joined by Dion ‘Komodo’ Pirotta to talk about the impact Valorant is having on OCE esports and how the game has progressed thus far.
One month into its highly-anticipated launch, Riot Games’ Valorant is wasting no time in establishing a presence in esports through the Ignition Series.
Announced on June 16, the Valorant Ignition Series will see Riot Games link with over 20 independent esports organisations across the globe to help promote Valorant via regional tournaments. Riot’s ultimate goal is to test a range of formats and develop ‘a robust competitive ecosystem’ for Valorant.
“In my opinion, and I’ve heard this from the community too, there was a need for a fresh and different game, but one that felt familiar at the same time. Valorant is hitting the mark.” - Dion ‘Komodo’ Pirotta
Event partners include prestigious esports organisations like G2 and T1, and tournaments are already confirmed for a number of regions including Europe, North America, South-East Asia, Latin America, Japan & North Africa.
Now, Melbourne-based ORDER joins the list with the Oceanic Valorant Open – starting Friday July 3 – complete with an expanded format to include over 1000 teams, a double-elimination best-of-three group stage, and an AUD $10,000 prize pool.
“An esport isn't built just by the game publisher, it relies heavily on community involvement,” explains Dion ‘Komodo’ Pirotta, community esports caster and the Head Administrator for the Oceanic Valorant Open. “It’s a smart move by Riot to allow Valorant to grow naturally with the player base, assisting where necessary to offer the services of higher tier events,” says Pirotta.
“For the Ignition Series, I was aware early on that Riot was allowing region-specific esports organisations to be involved – helping to nudge grassroots Valorant in the right direction. Allowing organisations to create their own structure leads to different viewer experiences, and can indicate which direction competitive Valorant may go.”
The event is free to enter, with competing squads going head-to-head until the final 16 teams are redrawn into 8-team groups in phase two of the tournament on July 17. A double-elimination best-of-three bracket will whittle each of the two groups down to three teams before the final six take to the server on July 22, with the best-of-three grand final penned for July 26.
It’s a landmark move in a region that hungered for Valorant throughout the beta in mid-2020. Without Oceanic servers, many Aussies and Kiwis took to ones in NA before the official launch of the game in OCE on June 2. The new first-person shooter has already seen numerous competitors begin to make the switch from other esports, like former CS:GO prodigy Matthew ‘Texta’ O’Rourke and Kiwi Overwatch gun Dale ‘Signed’ Tang.
A major contributor to Valorant’s potential in the region is its familiarity to top OCE esports like CS:GO and Overwatch, which have both seen massive success over the past 12 months. Valorant also has close connections to another Oceanic esport force, League of Legends, through its developer Riot Games.
“I think [Valorant] primarily is a mix of CS:GO and Overwatch, but there are also elements that remind me of titles like Rainbow 6:Siege,” Komodo explains.
“Riot is a well-known publisher and developer, which helps push the case for Valorant becoming a strong title in the region both as a game and an esport – a commitment they’ve been sticking by since the game’s announcement under the development title Project A.”
“In my opinion, and I’ve heard this from the community too, there was a need for a fresh and different game, but one that felt familiar at the same time. Valorant is hitting the mark.”
By adopting a free-to-play model with limited cosmetic in-game purchases, plus a reduced size and non-dependence on top equipment and peripherals, the game is highly accessible for players new and old to the genre.
“Valorant is quite easy to get a hold of, as it’s free to download and players are able to jump into a match straight away,” says Komodo. “You can jam casually with friends, or take it a step further and play competitively to climb the ranks to be a top player.”
“Allowing organisations to create their own structure leads to different viewer experiences, and can indicate which direction competitive Valorant may go.” – Dion ‘Komodo’ Pirotta
The game is not in a perfect spot just yet, however. Still in its infancy, Valorant is missing a variety of features that have helped other long-existing esports succeed.
One such feature is a publicly-accessible API to allow for third-party programmes and systems to expand upon the esport. “As someone who graduated university with a games and graphics programming degree, as well as working with the CS:GO API to create custom programmes, Valorant could definitely benefit from a currently-absent API,” states Komodo.
“Without an API we wouldn’t have easy access to crucial game data like live statistics, information for custom HUDs, easy custom match creation or possibilities for a third-party ranked service like FACEIT in CS:GO.”
Depth is also an issue Valorant faces in the short-term. Four maps lead to a stale and abnormal veto process, a small agent pool offers limited flexibility, and deficiencies in the spectator and observation system have yet to be addressed.
However, Valorant’s future, for now, appears radiant.
The Oceanic Valorant Open begins Friday July 3—for all the event information including match times, tournament rulebook and more, visit the VIS x ORDER Oceanic Valorant Open site. Keep up to date with more on esports in Oceania with Here’s The Thing.