The game developer revealed First Strike in a blog post on the official Valorant website. Whalen “Magus” Rozelle, Senior Director of Global Esports at Riot, explained that First Strike will officially establish regional champions for the game and described how the tournament will be conducted.
“First Strike will be the first tournament produced by Riot Games and an important foundational step to establishing regional legacy,” Magus said in the blog post. “As we continue to plan ahead for the future, our approach will continue to be heavily driven by the core principles shared earlier this year.”
First Strike will launch in the second half of October with regional qualifiers. Generally, players who are 16-years-old and older with the rank of Immortal 1 (which is the bottom tier of the second-highest rank in the game) are eligible to compete, but Magus advised prospects to closely follow Riot in the coming days for details on the tournament’s rules. The matches will take place in North America, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Turkey, Asia, Oceania, Brazil and the Middle East.
Prior to release, Valorant was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2019. When Riot began developing the game in 2014, it was only known through rumors and whispers as Project A, one of the several secret projects in production at Riot.
The game’s official reveal at the League of Legends’ 10th-anniversary event sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Not only was it Riot’s first big game announcement since League of Legends (which continues to be the gold standard of esports games since its release in 2009), it also turned out to be a tactical first-person shooter, pitting it directly against Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
CS:GO and its predecessor Counter-Strike, both developed by Valve Corporation (sort of — it’s a long story), have been the dominant FPS esports games for the past 20 years. With Valorant, many viewed Riot as Valve’s first serious challenger for influence in the space.
Some prominent players from other scenes have already begun swapping over. Jay “sinatraa” Won announced his switch to Valorant a year after winning the Overwatch League Grand Finals in 2019 with the San Francisco Shock and being declared MVP.
Riot began establishing Valorant’s esports with the launch of the Ignition Series in July. With the announcement of First Strike, Riot seems determined to keep the spark going.
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