Riot Games, the developer of popular first-person shooter VALORANT, has revealed more information on the upcoming season of VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Challengers, which is set to begin in January 2024.
When initial plans for the entire VCT season next year were unveiled, Leo Faria, Global Head of VALORANT Esports, mentioned in a blog post that there were multiple challenges for Tier 2 but that they were planning to introduce systems that will allow more opportunities for competition and development for pros, and fresh talent.
In a more recent development, the 2024 roadmap of VCT Challengers was unveiled, elaborating on this vision, and emphasising improved cooperation between International Leagues and Challengers.
It also addresses the issue of extended breaks following the season by introducing a revised schedule.
Let’s take a look at some of the changes everyone can expect for VCT Challengers 2024:
Promotion and Relegation
The first promotion and relegation event between challengers and Premier teams will happen next season at the end of Stage 1.
During the event, Premier teams will contend in a bracket, vying for the opportunity to face CL teams and secure a place in Stage 2 of the CL Season. More details will be shared in early November.
VCT Challengers Calendar
One of the most significant changes players and fans can expect next year will be a full year of competition.
As a result, Challengers 2024 is set to kick off in the upcoming year and will be divided into two distinct stages. The first stage is scheduled to run from January to April, while the second will span from May to August.
From January, Leagues will either hold Open Qualifiers or welcome back teams from Season 2023. Both stages will build up to a playoff where the strongest teams will compete.
This will ultimately lead to the crowning event, VCT Ascension, scheduled for September.
Challengers will roll right into its 2025 season come October, with details on the schedules per league to be announced separately in the future.
According to their statement released by Riot, the earlier start date aims to “minimise gaps in the calendar while giving Ascension winners enough time to prepare for the start of International Leagues.”
This makes the upcoming seasons longer than the previous year, where VCT Ascension concluded in July, which left many tier-two teams with only the OFF//SEASON to compete in.
Integration of International Leagues with Challengers through Affiliate Partnerships
VCT Challengers 2024 will also allow teams from International Leagues to partner with Challengers and Game Changers teams.
Affiliate partnerships with Challenger teams must occur within the same region. However, affiliate partnerships with Game Changers teams have no regional restrictions.
These partnerships enable these teams to work together more closely on various aspects, such as creating content and engaging in commercial ventures.
A key benefit of these partnerships is the introduction of Two-Way players, allowing them to transition between affiliated teams and promoting flexibility and integration in player development and team collaboration.
Multiple opportunities for pros: Two-way players and player loans
Some substitute players from the International League didn’t get to play much last season, and these players lost a lot of opportunities to build "relevant experience within the competition".
To solve this, Riot came up with the Two-Way Player and Player Loans system, which will enable multiple opportunities for benched players.
What’s the difference between these two?
Two-Way Players enables those who may not have a regular spot in the starting lineup of an International League team to compete on the Affiliate Partner Team's roster in Challengers and Game Changers, giving them the experience that they’d need to keep up with the International League and opportunities to showcase their game prowess.
Two-way players can still play for their parent organisation even if they sometimes get fielded to affiliate Challenger or Game Changer teams.
Player Loans, on the other hand, allows International League teams to loan players on their roster to Challenger or Game Changer teams that aren’t necessarily affiliated with them.
Until the loan period ends, these players cannot play for their parent team, unlike Two-Way Players. However, since player loans are not restricted to affiliate teams, benched players have more opportunities to play for other organisations.
For more information on VCT Challengers 2024, you may click here. More information on the upcoming VCT Season will also be unveiled in early November.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.