ANDThe LCQ, the last tournament in the EMEA region in 2023, has begun. It will be followed by the Champions League, the highest competition, which will take place in Los Angeles this edition. The Giants and KOI will battle it out this afternoon for a place in the tournament, which is a big win for the Spanish community.
From MARCA we wanted to talk to Daniel Ringland, Head of VALORANT EMEA. We have dealt with all sorts of issues, from Spanish teams and their fans to the technical issues the region is facing in 2023.
These are the last weeks of the VCT. What was this season like for you?
Yes, these are the last few weeks. Now it’s a bittersweet feeling. We’ve been working on it for a while and the season has been incredible. It was great to see the fans come to the Colosseum and enjoy the games. We have LCQ which ends on Sunday. We are very proud and look forward to seeing which teams will finally represent the EMEA region in the Champions League. We’re definitely looking forward to the games, but it’s sad that almost the season almost ended in the blink of an eye.
On Wednesday we had our first LCQ matches, how do you see the tournament at the moment? What do you think of the matchup between KOI and Heretics?
That was incredible. Part of the reason we chose the teams we chose was because we wanted to start creating national competitions like derbies. It’s great to see games like this, and with the addition of Benjyfishy to the Heretics roster, he’s become a big name in the community. In general, I am very happy when BO3 goes to three games or BO5 goes to five games, I consider it a victory for the fans.
There were some technical problems in the match, and they were throughout the season. What is Riot planning to do to fix them next year?
Yes, I’ll be completely honest, the technical problems we’ve had this year and the pauses just because we weren’t good enough. Fans get very upset when you watch a game and the break lasts more than five minutes, which is not enough for us. Everyone in the team takes it very seriously, over time we make changes, but we need to get to the off-season and be able to rebuild everything so that next season there will not be so many problems.
Yesterday we had the final on the high side of the infield with the Giants as the favorite. How did you see the Giants in this split, as a club, as a staff, and not just on the server?
I remember getting inquiries from clubs and I remember well when a request came in from the Giants with pictures of a lot of their fans in Malaga and pictures of fans supporting their parties. We knew this was a club that knew how to create a fandom and please the fans. I think they succeeded because at the Colosseum, whenever the Giants play, their fans are always present, coming from all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The passion and dedication of their fans is exactly what we are looking for and what we want our clubs to be able to develop.
The Spanish fandom was one of the reasons why we chose three Spanish teams: there are a lot of them, they are loud and proud of their teams.
There were a lot of questions about this when it was revealed because maybe we were expecting a German team like BIG in the VCT, how was it decided that there would be three Spanish teams?
I can talk a little about how we choose them in general. We wanted clubs to be able to build competitive teams with good staff, trained people who work with passion. We wanted to see the health of the clubs as a company before they joined the league, and just as importantly, we wanted the clubs to be able to build a good supporter community. That’s how we choose teams, and especially when it comes to the fandom, Spanish VALORANT fans are many, loud and proud of their teams. That’s why we have three Spanish teams.
As we have said, VCT ends. Did it live up to your expectations from the first season?
Yes, there are, except for technical breaks, I am satisfied with many things. I’m very proud of the way the Colosseum is set up, it’s incredible, it was important to me that we had multiple broadcasts in different languages there, and we, for example, had Spanish commentators most of the weeks, who were always the loudest commentators (laughs). We’ve had some very interesting games and there are a lot of things that we think can serve as a foundation for the next few years. Next year we will try to do more and better than that.
Let’s talk about the future: can you tell us anything about the VCT EMEA, what Riot is going to do?
Yes, we will reveal our plans for 2024 a little later this year, but I think it is very important that we come to the end of this season and spend a lot of time looking back, analyzing everything we have done and asking ourselves: did it work, did it not work, was it good, but should it have been better? It’s a process that we will start after the games on Sunday and there will be some changes next season.
I think there are good teams, the difference between Fnatic and the second is not that big
Fnatic is the best team in the world right now, they won the Tokyo Masters. Do you think they can beat everyone and become champions of the Champions League?
Yes, they had a very memorable performance at Lock In, I don’t think anyone will forget the last game against LOUD which was amazing and they had a great tournament in Japan. I think they have a good chance of winning the Champions League, but at the same time, let’s remember that they didn’t win the VCT EMEA. There are very good teams and I think the difference between Fnatic and those who are in second place is not that big. They have the potential to win the Champions League, but there are many other teams that can win it too.
Do you trust FUT and Team Liquid?
Yes, I think all clubs will be very competitive. Thinking about the EMEA Grand Finals I think there are surprises ahead of us and you never know where they will come from but I think it’s great to see FUT there, not many expected it and it shows that anything can happen.
How do you see the EMEA regional leagues? Do you think there are teams that could beat VCT?
I think we saw a lot of very strong clubs at Ascension. APEKS, who entered the tournament as favorites, but then Gentle Mates showed up and took him. Next year we will see how big the difference is, but I think the level in the regional leagues is quite high.
One of the reasons for the Ascension is the increase in motivation in regional leagues.
What is the idea behind the promotion of some teams in the VCT? Because in League of Legends there is an LEC that cannot be promoted. Did you want to make regional leagues more competitive?
Yes, there are several reasons for this, I think one of them was to increase the motivation in the regional leagues, but at the same time it will be very interesting to have new teams in the VCT from time to time, because it completely changes the dynamics. Next year we will have three teams from France and no one knows how things will turn out. It’s very interesting to think about how things will go, and the presence of new teams makes everything more dynamic.