One of the San Francisco Shock’s most prominent members is leaving to play Valorant professionally signifying serious concerns for Overwatch.
He came, he saw and he conquered.
— San Francisco Shock (@SFShock) April 28, 2020
Jay “Sinatraa” Won isn’t the first Overwatch player to announce their retirement to play Valorant, but he is one of the more significant departures. Concerning times for Overwatch have made Valorant’s recent market success that much easier. Newer titles like Fortnite and Overwatch are struggling to solidify themselves in the current esports structure. Sinatraa departing from the Shock is massive considering his prevalence as a face for the Overwatch League. Even if Sinatraa wanted to compete in Valorant for NRG, Blizzard’s rules prohibit players from retiring to play for another esport in the same organization. This rule harms organizations and players, forcing them to make massive changes if they choose to transition in their careers.
out with the old
Valorant has been the topic of discussion for the past month in the esports community. The game is addicting and satisfying while offering something to players of all various titles. Unlike Overwatch’s confused framework, Valorant focuses on the tactical FPS playstyle with tight gunplay. Overwatch and Fortnite can be sorted into the same subsection of esports, the only difference is that Fortnite understands their market. Bombastic ultimate and an often busy screen overshadow the nuances of the strategic side of Overwatch.
The first year of the Overwatch League didn’t go off perfectly, but it was thrilling and new. As Blizzard sought to stabilize the game, the Tier 2 and Tier 3 scene fell to the sidelines. Organizations have released countless Contenders teams due to high costs and dwindling viewership and support. The attraction of longevity is not there for Overwatch. The barrier of entry going from Open Division to Contenders to the Overwatch League is extremely tough. The Open Division has all but dissolved, and Contenders has seen a steady decline over the past year.
Valorant is still in closed beta as Riot works to refine the game too competitive perfection. The new title has its fair share of issues, but Riot’s track record with competitive scenes puts Blizzard to shame. Valorant tournaments are held every weekend at every skill level, dominating Twitch and Mixer viewership. Upon the closed beta’s release, TwitchRivals hosted a small competition with a variety of streamers. The tournament kicked off the month-long domination of Twitch that is continuing to this day. Riot and Twitch’s partnership to offer exclusive access to the closed beta only incentivized fans to watch Valorant streams. Professionals from across every esport have become addicted to this new tactical shooter.
100 Thieves was the first to host a major Valorant tournament featuring top tier esports players and streamers. The top three teams headed by Timothy “TimtheTatman” Betar, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, and Matthew “nadeshot” Haag put on a show. When this tournament took place, most players had put a sizable number of hours into learning the mechanics of Valorant. Each team showcased incredible skill and adaptability in the series. The final round came down to Team Shroud vs. Team TimTheTatman and ended with Team Shroud claiming a decisive two map win. For many fans, this was exposure to the skills that professionals are developing around the game's mechanics.
— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) April 14, 2020
The following week, ESPN hosted its own tournament offering another step forward in Valorant’s competitive community.
ESPN Esports’ Valorant Invitational was a beautiful three-day competition showcasing the best of the best in Valorant currently. Teams consisted of a group of developers and professional players from numerous titles such as Apex Legends, Counter-Strike, Fortnite, PUBG, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege. This tournament was more impactful than many realize, as it showcased how different minds approach Valorant. The teams for ESPN's Invitational were built around rosters of professionals from various other game titles. At the end of the event, the Apex Legends team, Team Canyon took out Team Mirage which was primarily composed of CS: GO professionals.
Competitive is open to the masses and live on Valorant for anyone who has completed 20 matches. The barrier ensures that players are properly associated with the mechanics before assessing their skills. The time being put into developing the competitive scene of Valorant resonates with players and encourages them to improve. Daily updates from the developers, weekly hotfixes, and a growing competitive desire from players make a great start for Valorant.