Riot Creating ‘Sport From Scratch’ With New Title, Valorant

Riot Games’ Kasra Jafroodi sees an opportunity in Valorant to “create a sport from scratch” with a “blank page,” and today, he sat with Sports Business Daily’s Andrew Levin to begin filling in that canvas.

He said Valorant was born out of developers at Riot recognizing “a lot of innovation missing in the shooter space.” Jafroodi explained, “It differentiates itself already from a lot of shooters out there by having agents with abilities, where as a player, it’s not just about being really mechanically good and being able to essentially shoot people.”

 Jafroodi — Valorant esports strategy lead — called it the “million-dollar question” when asked whether the game eventually will transition to a franchise-based model. He said, “We’re exploring different formats that could formalize the sport a little bit more. I think, ultimately, we have to ensure that, if we want to take a step toward a formal structure that involves some sort of partnership with teams, that the sport is ready for it.”

 On what determinants Riot will be eyeing: “We’re looking at maturity in the market. Who are the teams in that market? What does the sustainability look like? How many brands are getting involved? Do we feel like we can create a sport that can be profitable for everyone involved? And then, what are fans looking for?”

 Still, Jafroodi stressed, “I don’t know if we’ll be going to franchises,” adding, “We’re essentially considering every model that other sports have done in the past.” Valorant will utilize a tournament-based format for competition in 2021.

 For more insights from Jafroodi on Valorant, check out the latest “SBJ Unpacks: The Road Ahead.”


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