Whalen Rozelle, Head of Global Esports Operations at Riot, has revealed more details regarding the 2023 VCT and its stages.
Riot has reinforced its plans to host three international leagues, each comprising 10 teams. From 2024 on, each of these leagues will have two splits that will lead into the bigger Masters and Champions tournaments. But, for 2023, Riot is opening up an exception.
While teams are moving their operations to accomodate for the leagues' LAN-only setting, Riot will host a special tournament to kickoff the 2023 season. Instead of hosting a first split, Riot will fly all of the 30 partnered teams to São Paulo, Brazil, for three weeks of high-stakes competition. The Kickoff Tournament's winner will earn their region an extra slot at Masters 2023. This tournament will take place between Feb. 14 and March 3.
About 20 days later, on March 26, this year's only international league split will begin. That split will last eight weeks, crowning three regional champions on May 28. The VCT then proceeds to Masters 2023 in June, which will host an unknown number of the top teams from each region. At Masters, the best team from each region will receive direct qualification to Champions.
Maintaining the standard set in 2021, Last Chance Qualifiers will return. In June, the top teams from each region who haven't yet qualified to Champions will be bundled up to try and reach Valorant's capstone event. As they've done so far, each one of the three LCQs will award only its winner with a slot at Champions, hosted between August and September.
The three regional leagues will each be hosted in one city, akin to Riot's League of Legends competitions. The Americas League (NA, LATAM, and Brazil) will be hosted in Los Angeles, the EMEA league will be hosted in Berlin, and the Pacific league (APAC, China, Korea, Japan and OCE) will be hosted in Seoul. Riot will host several onsite casters in order to broadcast the leagues in multiple languages.
The 2023 VCT timeline. (Screengrab via Riot Games)
While all this is ongoing, the smaller Challenger Leagues will be played out. In a style similar to this year's VRLs, Riot is expanding the league format to include smaller competition in every region. Unlike the VCT, the Challengers leagues will host two splits — the first one ranging from January to March, the second from March to May — and a Challengers Ascension tournament.
Similar to this year's VCT EMEA Promotion, each region will have its own promotional tournament. Each champion of the 21 leagues will be funneled into a Challengers Ascension tournament, where teams will fight for a two-year promotion to their continent's international league, also receiving similar benefits to partnered teams and an equal chance to reach Masters and Champions.
Riot has also revealed the Game Changers Championship, the international capstone event of the Game Changers circuit, will return in 2023. The GC Championship is making its debut this year, hosting eight of the best GC teams in Berlin in November.
For VCT teams, the offseason begins right after Champions ends. For Challengers teams, it'll begin some weeks after the Ascension tournmament concludes, according to Riot's tentative timeline.
This new information is married to Riot's previous announcement, which came in mid-August. That announcement gave details on the Challengers leagues and the promotion path, expansion plans for the international leagues, as well as the in-game competitive mode that will bridge the cap between casual and aspiring competitive players.