In context: In what can only be described as an unorthodox marketing maneuver, Riot Games' new competitive shooter Valorant is seeing its first esports tournament this week. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, ESPN Esports will be live streaming an eight-team event consisting of 40 pro gamers and Twitch personalities.
ESPN revealed a partial roster of names for its Valorant Invitational, including Rainbow Six Siege reigning world champion Troy "Canadian" Jaroslawski, Counter-Strike world champion Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham and Fortnite World Cup runner-up Harrison "psalm" Chang.
Since Valorant is still in closed beta, ESPN and tournament organizer Greenlit Content are working closely with Riot Games to ensure those on the roster have access to the unfinished game. This televised event is the first time a sanctioned tournament has been held for a game that has not yet released to the public.
The first round of the ESPN Valorant Invitational starts today at 3:30pm EDT on ESPN Esports' Twitch channel. The network will broadcast subsequent rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, also at 3:30pm.
Other than the fact that it is a tournament for an unfinished game, the event is not all that surprising. Riot planned for Valorant to be an esports contender from the beginning. The overwhelming popularity of the beta version of the game on Twitch has all be cemented the title's place in professional competitive play.
On the day the beta launched, Valorant had over 1.7 million concurrent viewers on Twitch. ESPN is undoubtedly hoping the Invitational can draw similar numbers. However, it is worth mentioning that Riot was giving away beta invites to viewers of select streams when it achieved that recond. The studio since has enabled invite drops on all Valorant Twitch feeds. It wasn't specifically mentioned whether this promotion includes the tournament, but it likely does.