The last couple of days right before the start of VCT Champions 2023 have been shrouded in controversy, mainly discussions around the Tier 2 competitive scene plus the Ascension/partnership model currently in place. The entire discussion took place via social media between 2 massively influential figures.
In a social media post from July 29th the global head of VALORANT esports, Leo Faria, shared his point of view regarding a plan to improve the Tier 2 scene, which apparently is coming rather soon. Said plan allegedly includes a “fully revised calendar”, “more opportunities to compete”, and a focus on organizational sustainability. However one single quote created immense backlash for Faria, mentioning newly promoted squad The Guard as a “guest team”. The main figure involved in the controversy was Tier 2 VALORANT team owner and massively popular streamer, Ludwig.
Seeing lots of discussion on VAL tier 2 today. Want to let you know that we hear you and that we have a plan! Sustainability is just one challenge. We’re implementing a slew of changes for next year, including a fully revised calendar with more opportunities for teams to compete.
— Leo Faria (@lhfaria) July 29, 2023
Ludwig attempted to push for VCT-partnered teams to be relegated in order to “add true value to Ascension teams”, noting that it would be strange to see The Guard demolish teams in Tier 1 competition for them to come back to Challengers/Tier 2 in two years. Sustainability is an incredibly tough topic to discuss, but a rather long offseason is not helping said topic, nevertheless relegating already partnered VCT teams might not be the correct solution.
When Riot announced a total of 30 VCT partners, they were not picking VALORANT rosters based entirely on competitive success. Two examples are OpTic and XSET, 2 competitively successful rosters at peak form, however none of them were selected to be partnered for VCT Americas.
Even if The Guard truly dominated Ascension, they sadly don’t have enough financial backing or overall attention to be sustainable. The Guard faced massive layoffs to their content, social, and talent teams back in February, with reports stating the organization was looking to sell both their CDL and OWL franchises.
The original reasoning behind Tier 2 organizations was to feed top tier talent directly into partnered organizations. On paper it is an extremely tough situation for Ascension squads, where they not only need to win the tournament but also be both financially and fame sustainable in order to be partnered.
As for the big Tier 2 structure overhaul, it needs to come sooner rather than later, as the Ascension scene is facing several problems. The main current issue is the extremely long offseason period, where there are no tournaments or matches to play. This in turn forces organizations to release their rosters until next year, in order to avoid paying salaries with no possible return.
Partnered teams will most likely not be guaranteed a Tier 1 spot forever, especially if the Ascension system continues to be the main path to the most competitive VALORANT league.
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