BLAST Valorant Invitational, a (too) closed tournament
While the the Ignition Series appear to be over in the United-States, a new tournament has just been announced in Europe. The Blast Valorant Invitational is another opportunity to watch European teams compete against each other.
The tournament is jointly organised by Blast and Twitch. It starts this Friday, 11th September and runs over three days. The different teams will fight for a cash prize of €50,000.
Unfortunately, we can't say that the format is very interesting. Only 4 teams are invited to participate in the competition. They will compete in a double elimination tree at the rate of one match per day for each team.
The invited teams are G2 Esports, FunPlus Phoenix, Team Liquid and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
These names make sense because they are the most recognisable, but limiting the competitions to these teams only locks the European scene. We've talked about it before, but Valorant esports is still young. Everyone should have a change to participate and prove what they're capable of. However, we see a lot of events limited to a ridiculous number of teams.
Even if the four invited teams are among the strongest, we regret not to see challengers participate. The absence of Bonk, for example, is really damaging. It's the only team that has been able to qualify twice in Ignitions Series final, against G2 Esports. The LVL Valorant Clash 2 also made it possible to highlight many European teams that have not been unworthy. We can quote for example Skade who won twice against Team Liquid.
It's even more damaging to limit the competition to such an extent as the cash prize is the highest of the Ignition Series in Europe (tied with that of the WePlay! Invitationnal). All this gives the impression of witnessing a kind of exclusiveness on the European scene, where visibility and money are not earned, but offered by right.
Today, many org-less teams struggle to maintain themselves, despite their results. They're forced to invest their time and money to continue playing on the Valorant scene (and therefore keep it alive). We're not saying that a teal like Bonk or Skade would have won the competition, but at least giving them a chance to participate in such an event could only be beneficial for everyone. More potential gains for players and more interesting matches for the viewers.
This being said, the Ignition are events organised by third parties. These third parties set the rules and the format. With the matches interspersed with show matches (we don't know the participants yet), it's a safe bet that Blast didn't intend to represent the current level of the European scene. It would rather be to provide a show around Valorant.
Blast created a professional Counter-Strike league, the Blast Premier. The organisation of this BLAST Valorant Invitational seems above all to be a demonstration of their interest in Valorant. Too bad they didn't show their interest in the European scene.