On Wednesday, Riot Games hosted a press conference in Shanghai, with President of Esports John Needham, COO Whalen Rozelle, and President of Mobile Growth Leo Lin in attendance to jointly announce that the official launch date of Valorant in China is July 12. The announcement is a milestone moment for Valorant and Riot Games’ esports operations in China following the game receiving approval from China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) in December.
It should be noted that Riot Games parent company Tencent Holdings will host the Tencent Esports Annual Esports Global Summit in Shenzhen, China on July 14. It is likely that Valorant will become a high-profile discussion point during the summit.
Riot COO Rozelle also shared more details about Valorant during his presentation: “First, this is not official, but 2024 is when we ‘hope’ to welcome China to the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) in 2024,” he said, “We’re currently figuring out how to scale up China sports, and we are tremendously optimistic about Valorant Esports’ future in China.”
Currently, Chinese Valorant esports teams can play the Valorant Champions Qualifiers from July 3 – 14. Twelve Chinese teams, including TE, 4AM, Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), Tyloo, NTER, Weibo Gaming (WBG), DRG, Bilibili Gaming (BLG), ME, ASE, Edward Gaming (EDG), and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) will compete for three spots at Valorant Champions 2023 in Los Angeles from August 6 – 26. Laptop brand HP OMEN, Intel, hardware brand ZOWE, and gaming chair gaming will become the official partners of the event. In addition, the event will be open to an on-site, live audiences.
The VCT is Valorant’s top global esports series. The VCT Masters Tokyo concluded on June 25, and Chinese esports organization EDG won the top six of the event, becoming the first Chinese esports team to defeat the 2022 Valorant World Champion LOUD. “We saw a surge in viewership that set new records for our sport with fans here in China,” Rozelle said.
Bobby Jin, Valorant China publishing producer, also stated during the conference that Valorant would put ￥2 million ($275K USD) into developing the Valorant grassroots competitions, including collegiate, live streaming platforms, and internet cafe channels across China.