Riot Games officially revealed today that the VALORANT in-game competitive system known as Premier will launch in open beta at the start of Episode Six, Act Three, which should be around the start of May.
Premier has been billed as the starting point for the path-to-pro pipeline within the VALORANT esports ecosystem, and the head of VALORANT esports has revealed that Premier will eventually take over what’s been a foundational part of the game’s professional scene.
“In the future, Premier will be the path to the VCT Challengers leagues,” global head of VALORANT esports Leo Faria said in the open beta announcement video. “No more open qualifier events. Your path-to-pro starts in-game.”
Faria confirmed the change in a reply on Twitter, saying “with time, and if everything works out, Premier will become the only path to the VCT Challenger leagues.”
While little had been previously revealed about how Premier would fit into the esports ecosystem, the decision to have it replace open qualifiers does contrast with what had previously been advertised. On the official VALORANT Champions Tour overview page, it reads that the in-game competitive system would create “make-or-break moments where the lowest ranked Challenger teams have to defend their place against the newest batch of online superstars.” But the statement from Faria confirms that all teams will have to play through Premier if they want to reach Challengers in their respective regions.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, open qualifiers were the entry point into top-tier VALORANT competition across all regions and remained the entry point for tier-two and Challengers league this year while tier-one shifted into the new partnership model.
Given that Premier won’t launch until the middle of the year, and that most Challengers leagues already have their teams for the year locked in, we likely won’t see Premier officially replace VCT open qualifiers until at least 2024. Faria noted that “more details and dates [are] coming soon.”