Discussing the effects of franchising in Valorant’s India tier 2 scene
India’s market for Valorant and other esports has been on the rise since the first APAC qualifications. But in recent times the term of franchising was mentioned by many and it has led many to worry about the future. In a recent update to their fans, Global Esports announced on Twitter they are considering it, and had quite the polarizing reaction.
Global Esports stated that they have made it to the 3rd stage of their Valorant International League Application. And while this doesn’t confirm they sort in the franchising league format, it is one step closer. So what is franchising and why could be more harmful to the Indian Valorant growth.
Franchising model within Valorant and other esports?
While there isn’t much documentation or understanding about the proposed Valorant franchising system. There was a document which had leaked which gave us a little bit more information about the system. To explain in simple terms: the same teams get to play without the fear of relegation to the lower leagues and have to pay a certain amount to book their slot in the league.
This can best be seen in League of Legends, Overwatch and Call of Duty. Their franchising systems have been working for the longest time. What this changes in Valorant is that teams who aren’t a part of the system cannot be a part of the official high-level tournaments by Riot.
With these changes what one can expect is that players and teams will be bringing in a lot of revenue as a whole for the sport. Due to this simple factor and that player will be able to earn better salaries. There is quite a lot of appreciation for this system. Currently, the proposed system is to have 3 different leagues around the world. One of them is from America consisting of teams both from NA & SA. While the other consisted of teams from Europe and finally one for the Asian teams. Currently, there isn’t much information on how teams will be selected for this league system but teams can start applying for a spot. One major thing to note is that Riot has stated that there aren’t any franchising fees teams will need to pay.
The instant problem is here is that Asia is packed into a single pool covering more than 10 different regions.
How does the current Valorant scene work in India?
Currently, the system works in what is the simplest form there is. There are multiple tournaments which are announced after taking permission from Riot. Following this, the organizations hosting these tournaments have to find sponsors for the events for having those lucrative prize pools. Most tournaments currently don’t have an entry fee and are available for anyone to be a part of it.
Taking the example one of the major grassroots tournaments are the Global Esports Tournaments.
For those, each team needs to apply for it at a given time and had to provide certain details. Following that there would be a BO3 match between the two teams. As such this would result in many teams getting the exposure to be a part of such a tournament.
While I was personally allowed to be the caster for many of the matches in the tournament. I learned that the backend of these tournament productions was either a 1 man’s show or a group of fewer than 5 people who will manage the production of each match. Then to get some more revenue each of the matches will be live-streamed on YouTube or Twitch for the fans to watch.
India is simply not ready to embrace high level franchising for it’s scene and the region.
How can the new changes affect the Indian Valorant Scene?
Well, currently there is a massive and growing tier 2 scene of Valorant within India. The majority of them are self-funded as they don’t have the reach to get sponsors. Each of these takes part in the multiple tournaments hosted by companies like The Esports Club and Esportz. in. These tournaments in turn help to have more organizations be formed and get new talents to get recruited.
Many tournaments similar to these have to take permission from Riot to host such tournaments. The fixtures of these tournaments have to be officiated by Riot themselves else they can’t take place. As such if there is franchising then most of these tournaments won’t be allowed to take place. Due to this, there is a very high chance that the scene could immediately be killed. If the franchising model doesn’t allow there new teams can be added to the tournament. As such the ability to see a team who is an underdog or rising talent won’t be there.
In league this manifests in ugly ways:
-Teams only signing players on perpetual max length deals
-Teams refusing to consider redlines to their base contract
-Teams signing players to 3y big $ deals with only the next 2 weeks guaranteed
-Min salary players with million $ buyouts
— Phillip Aram (@Phillip_Aram) April 28, 2022
If so does happen then there is a very high chance that teams who are self-funded in the official tournaments which are hosted by Riot. While it could be a very profitable system for the teams who are a part of the league. There is a high chance it would majorly affect the people outside this bubble. While also not allowing teams who have bare minimum funds and amazing talents to be a part of the world circuits.
Plenty of India’s teams play to reach the highest level of play, and 3-rd party events wont be an incentive for them to keep competing. It is simply a mentality for players to strive for the highest levels of competition, not just to make do.