Polaris, the English VCL league, in trouble
Although Valorant seems to be gaining in popularity day by day, the results are not necessarily there in all the sectors where the game operates. This is illustrated by the situation of Polaris, the English and Nordic VCL, which is prone to serious financial difficulties since the beginning of the season. As a result, it is seeing its matches coverage extremely reduced for Split 2.
It was in a tweet published by Tanizhq, MoistEsports' coach, that the news was made public. The latter shares a disturbing email from Promod, the organiser of the Polaris League. In the report, the producers mention the loss of their partnerships with various brands, which implies a significant drop in income and therefore in production resources. Promod does not give reasons for the withdrawals and only mentions a complicated sponsoring situation.
During Split 1, although the broadcasting of the matches was not directly affected, all ancillary content, such as exclusive content on social networks or video interviews, was removed. But the trend is not going to get any better, quite the contrary.
During the Split 2, all matches will be played, but not all of them will be covered and broadcast on the official channel valorantleague_ne. Specifically, only the Monday matches will be broadcast, while the broadcasting rights for the Tuesday matches will be transferred to streamers and influencers who wish to follow the matches.
This is an unfortunate situation for our neighbours as the esport economy is largely based on the brand support and by extension the exposure that regular broadcasting can offer. By decreasing the coverage of matches, this can have a damaging snowball effect for teams who may themselves lose their sponsors. And in a kind of vicious circle, a team that loses its sponsors could lose its players and a league without players has no games to broadcast.
The very low number of spectators must be largely responsible for the departure of the partners. According to Esports Charts, the maximum number of simultaneous spectators in the Polaris League in 2022 was 1507. In comparison, the Revolution League (the VCL France) had 146,578 spectators.
In France, even though the VCL Revolution seems to be doing quite well in terms of viewership, thanks in part to the costreams of ZeratoR and JL Tomy for the Mandatory and Joblife teams respectively, it has also suffered a few hard knocks. In the space of a few weeks, we have seen the departure of Sector One, BeGenius and HEET.
It remains to be seen how the situation will develop. Should the situation continue to deteriorate, one can imagine Riot Games revising their system entirely, just as they could put their hands in the wallet. At the launch of Valorant in Korea, Riot Games was paying and directly sponsored the teams in order to stabilise the environment and get the various players to take an interest in Valorant.