We are officially less than 24 hours away from the launch of VALORANT worldwide, and ESPN Esports has you covered with wall-to-wall action all the way up until the midnight release.
With the closed beta of the game ending on May 28, the top players around the world had to find ways to pass the time leading up to the June 2 launch. While some streamed old favorites or took a well-deserved break after playing the game non-stop since the game's beta was released into the wild on April 7, others were in the mood to answer some spicy topics about VALORANT as they gear up for the game's arrival.
ESPN Esports polled more than 50 pros and high-level players for this confidential survey, each given anonymity.
June 2, 2020, is too soon of an official release date for VALORANT.
One of the most burning issues for VALORANT in recent weeks has been its release date, the developers surprising the world by making good on their "summer launch" promise weeks before the summer season even begins in the Northern Hemisphere. While the community at large is split on whether the game is ready to become an official full release, popular streamer Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek even sharing his hesitations on-air, the pros are siding with the developers on this one.
Although this result might have turned out this way because sooner the game launches, the sooner big money tournaments start to pop up, we'll trust them on this one.
ESPN Daily Newsletter: Sign up now!
If you had to delete one VALORANT agent from the game, who would it be?
All other agents under 8%
Well, is this really a surprise? Although the developers didn't believe Raze would be such a hot-button issue when she made her entrance on the day VALORANT's closed beta began, she quickly became the enemy of social media with fans openly begging for the developers to remove her entirely from the game. Her grenades, which she had two at the start of each round, were the nightmares of many, the bouncing messengers of death sending many a team to their boiling point. Although her grenades were nerfed and she now only starts with a single grenade, that still wasn't enough for our pros to not pick her as the agent they'd most like to see gone from the game if they had to choose.
Below her, we had the must-pick Sage with her walls and healing along with Russia's most famous hunter and his annoying recon arrows curbing any sort of planned attack. The only agent to not at least get at least one vote in this category was the American commander Brimstone.
Select every map you enjoy playing on.
Congratulations to Haven and Bind, both overwhelmingly accepted by the pros and finishing in a tie for first place in this category.
... Oh, hey there, Split. In no surprise, the map that was changed during the closed beta was the one that ends up as the one the players enjoyed the least, even the development team's fixes to make the map more attack-sided not helping it in the survey. Don't worry, Split, a new map is coming out on launch day, maybe there is a chance it could be less accepted than you are. Or maybe the new map set on a fictional post-destroyed Venice, the first map ever developed by the VALORANT team, will make Split obsolete in coming esports tournaments with a new third map to play on.
What do you hope for the esports scene of VALORANT?
League of Legends/Overwatch style (franchised regional league): 62%
Valve style (third-party tournaments with Riot hosting one or two major events a year): 38%
Riot Games has already come out and it is expected to follow more of the Valve style of handling esports at least early on in VALORANT's lifespan, relying on third-party tournaments from tournament organizers and teams before deciding how the future of the game's esports scene should function.
For the pros, though, while close, the majority sided with how Blizzard handles Overwatch and how Riot handles its flagship title, League of Legends. In the franchised model, there are far fewer tournaments and less prize money, but players are given a minimum salary and generally more security. It will be interesting to see where Riot Games takes VALORANT's esport future, the development team meeting with various esports organizations before the game went into closed beta.
Which esport will be hurt most by VALORANT's release?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 35%
Other (or none): 8%
All other games under 8%
To the surprise of maybe no one, Overwatch topped the list, almost half of the pros seeing Overwatch as the game most likely to be hurt by VALORANT's release. The flagship Blizzard esport title has already lost its reigning MVP, Jay "Sinatraa" Won, to VALORANT, the 20-year-old signing with Sentinels at the end of April. And though Sinatraa is the biggest name to leave Overwatch League for Riot's newest game, he's not the only one, Corey "Corey" Nigra, Damien "HyP" Souville and more already making the switch before the game's official release.
In second, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has also seen its scene lose a few players, albeit nowhere near the stature of Overwatch's departures. While it's unlikely many, if any, top, superstar Counter-Strike players will switch titles, it could be the up-and-coming and tier-two scene of the game that is damaged the most, a slew of North American players already jumping ship.
Aside from Europe and North America (where a majority of the voters come from), what region do you think will produce the strongest teams?
South Korea: 44%
Commonwealth of Independent States: 10%
Latin America: 8%
All other regions under 8%
South Korea is the most successful region in League of Legends and the VALORANT pros believe they'll continue to make a name for themselves in Riot's first-person shooter. Although there have been no major organizations to pick up an all-Korean team just yet, it's only a matter of time for the announcements to begin popping up. Over in Brazil, the region was applauded by the developers, the country embracing VALORANT maybe like no other in the closed beta. And for China, in third, they might not have the game officially released on June 2, the government needing to approve the game before its release, but that isn't stopping major organizations like LGD Gaming, Royal Never Give Up and Tyloo from already signing teams.
Would you play VALORANT for fun even if you couldn't make a career from it?
When questioned if they would still play the game even if they couldn't make money from it, almost 80% answered that they would still play the game. One pro reached out to clarify his thoughts on why he selected "no," saying that he does find VALORANT an enjoyable and well-made game but that his ultimate goal and dream is to become an esports pro, so if it doesn't work out in VALORANT, he will put his full focus into a game where he can achieve that goal.
How would you rate the current ranked system in VALORANT?
Makes me want to not play ranked: 17%
As you can tell, the pros are not happy with the ranked system.
If it were up to you, would you add a solo/duo queue and leaderboard system to ranked?
Yes solo/duo queue, yes leaderboard system: 78%
Yes solo/duo queue, no leaderboard system: 10%
No solo/duo queue, yes leaderboard system: 12%
No solo/duo queue, no leaderboard system: 0%
Not a single pro voted that the ranked system should stay the same without at least adding a leaderboard system or a solo/duo ranked queue to separate the population from facing five teammates linking up together. It wasn't even close, with a vast majority of the pros believing that there should be both a leaderboard system and solo/duo queue added to the game. The development team has already said they're looking at ranked, already announcing they'll be changing the top rank from the confusing "Valorant," but it feels as if the top players feel as an in-game leaderboard (not a third-party system like Counter-Strike) is needed along with differing queues to make ranked a more enjoyable experience.
We won't know on launch day what changes the team will be making to ranked, Riot saying they would be waiting a few weeks for the game to be out officially before turning on (hopefully) the new look ranked system.
Have you experienced FPS drops or Vanguard disconnects since the most recent patch (May 12)?
The main reason why there has been hesitation over the June 2 release date has been the technical errors of the VALORANT in-game. Along with frame drops that have made the game unplayable for some, there has also been what became known as being "Vanguarded," where the game abruptly kicks you out of the game and forces you to reboot the game (sometimes even reboot your computer) to get back into the ongoing match. Though the developers zeroed in on these issues in their May 12 patch, almost four out of five pros still found themselves dealing with technical issues after the final patch in the closed beta.
How would you grade the game at the close of beta?
Overall, even with faults in the ranked system and some technical issues, the pros see the immense potential VALORANT has at being a great game. While one out of four already believe the game is good enough to be graded the highest mark, most of the voters, seeing the issues they cited in the survey, took the game down to a B.
VALORANT has laid the foundation for a game that could be one of the best FPS games of all time. Now, as we head into launch and the game's future, it's the development team's time to prove it and build on that foundation.