Valorant’s Premier is a replication of the Esports experience geared towards players so they can participate in tournaments intuitively. A Premier banner and title will be given to those that participate in the new game mode and there is a keen sense of hope and intrigue around the development. Being able to have a streamlined game mode for tournaments can increase the casual and competitive experience and provide unique gameplay opportunities that can’t be replicated in other FPS shooters. This game mode could be the pioneer of competitive tournament modes and could be the blueprint for the future. The new mode has a high potential for exciting content and the palpable excitement it brings the community is hopefully justified.
How Premier Works
The prerequisites for playing Premier are as follows:
- Have an SMS-verified account
- Have the account complete a ranked verification during its lifetime
- Have an account in good standing (not restricted for disruptive behaviour)
Just having an account that is verified with a rank is probably going to be all it takes for most players. Don’t be toxic and check your account security before you start. You can also only be on one team at one time in the game mode. The top 5 MMR ratings in your team calculate the opponents you will be grouped with. It seems like playing with teammates of a similar skill level will be beneficial.
The Overtime rules favour the first team to reach 12 rounds on the board with them picking the attacking or defending side to play the start of overtime on. 2 sets of Overtime without a winner gets decided by sudden death.
The process of Premier is divided into multiple sections. The sections are:
- Enrollment Period (Apr 25–28)
- Weekly matches (Apr 29–May 20)
- Playoff Tournament (May 21)
The map pick and map ban system is a revolutionary system that should make strategy and picks an important part of setting up winning. In a unique system in the Valorant game mode, teams will take turns banning maps while the leader locks in the choice after players vote for maps to ban. The process alternates until a map gets chosen and the team that didn’t choose the map gets to choose whether they’re on attack or defence. An emphasis on having an advantage for the first to reach 12 rounds is a new feature in Valorant.
The Tournament bracket has as many as 8 teams or can have as few as 5 teams. Teams fight through the main bracket but losing will put them in the Consolation bracket competing for third. Think of it like the Double Elimination Playoff format used in Champions 2022. The difference is that it will be done in a best-of-one play style. Teams should be able to adjust their strategies to their opponents in a winner takes all environment.
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The map-banning system is a unique feature of Premier and could inform how teams pick agents and playstyles on certain maps. If an opponent bans Breeze and Haven, there’s a good chance they don’t want to face an Operator. They ban Split and Lotus and they’re basically telling you they don’t have an answer to corner camping shotguns. The idea is to understand the philosophy of banning and the reason opponents ban maps and counter-strat effectively to better the odds of you and your teammates. Coming up with strategies and map picks will be a new skill that players will need to learn to have success in Premier.
I think this skill was more lacking in the ranked queues but having a team to discuss and mull over enemy strategies in-game will be a much better learning experience than having toxic randoms screaming into your mic that you suck. Players have often drifted away from ranked because of the problem of toxicity that Valorant has always had. I think Premier will hopefully encourage players to behave better and treat each other like actual human beings. Knowing your teammates will likely lead to less flaming or bad comms during the game and this should hopefully help with player retention and a safer and better learning experience for all players involved.
I personally believe Valorant is an excellent game but I can’t play it every day due to the toxicity of the players in my rank and the implications of extended exposure to this toxicity on my mental health. If Premier will provide a safe learning space and encourage more useful comms without harassment, I think it will bring in and retain more players. I certainly know of players who avoid ranked because of the toxicity and the unfriendly nature of the comms and Premier may actually encourage less of this bad behaviour which may be its biggest achievement.
The map-banning and compositions will add a unique flavour to each team. I feel this will help the ranked experience and also end up making the path to pro more clear, as the players who will grind Premier will be ready to learn compositions, agents and playbooks. Having this experience will help the quality of pro play not necessarily in Tier-1 teams, but more so Tier 2 or 3 players who have high mechanical skills but aren’t used to working in groups or are over-reliant on specific skills such as their raw mechanical skills or IGL-ing.
Overall Premier puts players through a trial of fire and I think it will encourage an increase in the quality of play in Valorant. I think talented players that had the potential to make it pro or even just rise in their ranked games can now realise their potential and round out their overall skills much better on Premier. The game mode offers something that the average ranked match cannot replicate as a learning experience and I think it’s highly beneficial to the whole community as they learn how to improve themselves and each other in a team setting.
This will also introduce a ‘playbook’ to maps and add executes for ideal entry or trap plays. This is a uniquely different situation from ranked where there is generally one or more people that won’t pick agents or playstyles that can allow players to practice and execute which works through multiple abilities and purposeful timing. While it is often seen in the competitive scene, having a team that doesn’t involve randoms or unknowns will expand the scope of team play and strategy. Coming up with executes and defensive traps or setups sounds like a super fun experience that most players probably have not been able to do before.
I think Premier will expand agent pools and Agents that were typically off-meta will have niche strategies that can be built upon. I think opening up Premier allows for more Agent diversity and a less rigid meta as the whole community explores the possibility that off-meta Agents have. This will hopefully lead to more diversity and acceptance of not sticking rigidly to the meta or copying the most used professional compositions in every map.
The Future of Valorant
Premier hosts an intuitive method for players to compete from their rooms towards regional qualifiers and opportunities for professional play. What Premier offers is an opportunity for everyone to experience and replicate the competitive experience at the highest level and make a name for themselves as a player that isn’t just good in the random matchmaking of ranked, but excels in cohesive team vs team competitions. This could provide a more accurate barometer of how players may perform during organised tournaments and provides a game mode where players can get used to a league and playoff format which the VCT adopts.
This mode having leagues and playoffs based on average MMR also incentivises ranked play which means ranked may become a place to brush up on individual skills, while Premier becomes a mode for a more competitive team-based experience. With Premier, Valorant has given users an arena to become better individually and collectively in different environments depending on the need of the player. This should increase the skill level of the community while also providing a fun avenue to play with and make new friends through the game. I think Premier will also have the potential to define and shift metas not just through the Tier 1 professionals but through the possibilities of new ideas that have come through the community. Premier has the potential to bridge the gap between the everyday player and competitive play which is exciting as before they felt like separate worlds with their own isolated rules.
This also provides a way for fans of Esports and content creators to watch tournaments in a more sophisticated way through the game interface. Valorant’s new mode also provides new opportunities for spectating in-game. Perhaps Valorant’s regional qualifiers can be conducted with the ability for players in the game to spectate. Watching VCT games hosted on Premier would also add another dimension to the game. Perhaps streamers can stream tournaments with map bans and other unique content that is based on the systems on Premier.
Premier facilitates bringing an aesthetically pleasing and working league and tournament system to the shooter and will help with the longevity and long-term health of the game. Hopefully, it’s not an over-glorified tournament mode that has no players but turns into an avenue for Valorant to attract and retain players. I think an understanding of the difficulty of elimination tournaments and league play is also going to provide a healthy competitive experience that ranked games cannot replicate.
All in all, other FPS games lack a sophisticated mode dedicated to competitive play and Premier could become that, with a few improvements as the need arises. This is an exciting development that could launch Valorant‘s competitive and content scene to new heights and here’s to hoping the developers make the most of this opportunity.
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