Written By Germanicus - 2020-08-24
The viewership and popularity of competitive VALORANT has come a long way since the very beginning.
From closed beta tournaments pulling a maximum of 10,000 concurrent viewers, more regularly around 2-3,000, to the latest North American Ignition Series event, the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational, pulling, at times, 150,000.
It’s undoubtedly going very well for the game. But there’s a few things to put in perspective. And the European scene clearly lags behind. But still, you can’t look at a number like 150,000 and think the game doesn’t have a promising future. Where does it go from here?
North America’s first Ignition Series event was the T1 x NSG Showdown, who’s finals, TSM vs. T1, had about 50,000 maximum concurrent viewers. The next event, the PAX Arena VALORANT Invitational, received approximately 75,000. And the latest, the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational, was, as mentioned, at times 150,000. Time will only tell what the Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational will deliver us.
The European scene, on the other hand, has not been doing so well. The finals of all its’ Ignition Series events - the G2 Esports Invitational, The Vitality European Open , the WePlay! VALORANT Invitational, the Mandatory.GG Cup, and Allied Esports Odyssey - all struggled to break 25,000 concurrent viewers. Only the most recent, Allied Esports Odyssey, was really successful, having by far the highest viewers of all the European tournaments, helped by its spread-out format and low number of participants.
In other regions, Japan was quite successful with around 20,000 for its RAGE VALORANT JAPAN INVITATIONAL and RAGE VALORANT JAPAN TOURNAMENT, while other regions could not really break upwards of 5,000.
There are a few things that must be considered before proclaiming VALORANT viewership as an outstanding success. First of all, top teams from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were on their breaks during much of the Ignition Series so far, meaning fans of that game had little to watch. Some certainly gravitated to VALORANT as a way to watch old favourite players and see a game quite similar to CS:GO. The latest North American tournaments were definitely helped by TSM streamer Ali “Myth” Kabbani watching the games live on his own stream and cheering on his team, to 25-30,000 viewers regularly.
And while Europe skill-wise is being compared to North America, its’ viewership really can’t. The top-tier tournaments in the European scene sometimes pull less viewership than low-tier CS:GO events in the region. This certainly isn’t helped by the unorthodox tournament formats. Allied Esports Odyssey was probably the best in this regard, hence its larger viewership.
Now that top-tier CS:GO is back on, the upcoming Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational will be really telling for VALORANT. If it pulls less than the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational, or the same, that would be expected and the game can take the next few top-tier tournaments to grow. The structure of the game’s events post-Ignition Series will determine a lot of this as well. If viewership for the event keeps increasing by roughly the same amount as previous events have over their predecessors, it will be a fantastic sign that VALORANT may be doing better than we think.
For Europe, the first thing is that tournament formats need to be cleaned up and made more appealing for viewers. European tournaments have not had near the advertising or investment that North American ones have, that will also have to change. The presence of a large tournament organizer stepping in to VALORANT with the European scene would help immensely. Ultimately, we will see what sort of viewership the LVL VALORANT Clash 2 will get but I’m fearful it will be more of the same, and some of the above scenarios will have to happen to kick the game into high gear.
In a year, or at the first LAN, where will VALORANT viewership be? I think a good estimate is slightly below top-tier Counter-Strike competition. I predict the game will be close to that in a year, or at the first big LAN tournament. So we’re talking a few hundred thousand viewers. I think it’s definitely possible, but depends on a lot of factors as outlined above.
VALORANT viewership has been fantastic so far, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. The next two events for the major regions will be massive tellers. If the Pop Flash VALORANT Invitational and LVL VALORANT Clash 2 can continue growing viewership, that is a fantastic sign; if they stagnate, it isn’t great but to be expected and nothing to worry about just yet. Time will ultimately tell.
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