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One year ago today, April 7, VALORANT beta keys became available for people to earn through streamer drops. The VALORANT anniversary comes in the wake of the game’s tournament circuit, as it has evolved in terms of its esports community. Released with only 10 agents and three maps, players took to the dystopian mercenary crew and grew the community to the size it is today. Since VALORANT’s closed beta launch, the game has gone through multiple patches, agent introductions and esports events.

Beta tournaments

VALORANT hit the ground running in terms of esports with beta tournaments popping up not even a week after keys were available. Most events were small tournaments with little prize pools. Also, most organizations lacked professional players and a meta hadn’t been implemented into the game. But, there were some big events worth remembering for VALORANT’s anniversary.

The T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational was one of the bigger competitive events from the beta era. The tournament had a $25,000 prize pool and featured one of the first professional players. T1 signed Braxton “brax” Pierce before the beta released and his team ended up second in this event. The winner turned out to be Gen.G Esports, starting the squad’s early success in the community.

Another big event was the 100 Thieves Invitational. Many early events featured content creators and streamers to help boost viewership and hype audiences up for the competitive future. Big names like Michael “shroud” Grzesiek, Tim “Timthetatman” Betar and Jaryd “summit1g” Lazar were all in attendance with their own teams.

Ignition Series

VALORANT anniversary
Image via Riot Games

As the game released on June 2, Riot Games revealed its early plan for its esports ventures. The Ignition Series was announced as tournament organizers came into the scene to host the events. One of the biggest at the time was the FaZe Invitational. The $50,000 prize pool tournament featured many of the current top North American teams at the time. It was also a continuation of the early Sentinels and TSM rivalry that has since fizzled out.

This era also introduced G2 Esports’ early dominance in Europe as it swept through VALORANT’s first tournament circuit. To spark early interest in the game, the tournament series was held in different regions around the world. These events were the primer for the next big VALORANT esports event that capped off 2020.

First Strike

VALORANT anniversary
Image via Nerd Street Gamers

In a culmination of the 2020 esports circuit, VALORANT would receive its first Riot Games sponsored major event. The First Strike tournament had two different qualifiers and would feature the best teams in each respective region as they fought for the top spot in their regional event. Team Heretics claimed the top spot in Europe while a new-look 100 Thieves took the crown in North America. The event concluded 2020 with a definitive end to the competitive circuit and gave away the biggest prize pool to date: $100,000 for each region.

But, the event was just a taste of what Riot Games had in store, as they announced the VALORANT Champions Tour just before First Strike kicked off.

VALORANT Champions Tour

Valorant anniversary
Image via Riot Games

The official VALORANT competitive circuit was announced in November of 2020. The tournament series is just hitting its second leg; it is about to hold its first international LAN tournament for Masters 2 in Iceland as well.

In more current news for VALORANT, the tournament series has been a decent success as viewership numbers and competitive storylines thrive for the esport. So far, one champion has been crowned for Stage 1 in each region.

The tournament circuit will culminate in the third stage of play as teams continue to earn circuit points in hopes of attending Champions.

VALORANT is extremely different than it was a year ago. The agent and map pool have expanded, while patches have curbed and improved weapons. Also, launch maps like Split have changed significantly and the meta has evolved drastically. For example, around this time last year, Sage was a must-pick agent. Now, however, she isn’t played on some professional maps and or teams’ compositions.

VALORANT’s anniversary marks the massive changes that have come to the title in terms of esports and gameplay.


Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter


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