The first-ever international Valorant tournament is underway. The tournament will set a precedent for the relative strength of the game’s various regions and expose the world to a number of new team brands from the likes of Brazil, North America, and Korea. Along with the teams gaining greater international visibility are the event’s sponsors, which include gaming chair brand Secretlab, Red Bull, Verizon, gaming peripheral brand HyperX, and Prime Gaming, Amazon’s program that rewards Prime subscribers with cosmetics and items for various video games including Valorant.
As players enter the play area, they take their seat in Secretlab chairs, the company logo often visible behind the player’s head during match prep and timeouts. HyperX has provided its mice and keyboards to the event’s commentators and analysts, and its logo can be seen on various rotating branding carousels throughout the broadcast. Both these brands and their activations are commonplace in esports, but Prime Gaming is something of a new partner on this scale.
The program serves as a presenting partner for a number of broadcast segments including the Agent Select, which showcases the characters each player will use in a match, the post-match highlights, and the name appears any time a team wins a “Flawless Round,” the term for a round in which the winning side does not lose a single player.
Red Bull has perhaps the most iconic branding at the event. A well-stocked Red Bull-branded mini fridge is visible behind the team coaches each time the camera cuts to them. Players on stage also drink from disposable cups with Red Bull branding on them. Like Prime Gaming’s “Flawless Round,” Red Bull presents “Clutch Rounds,” when the winning side has just one player left alive. Where flawless rounds signify a team’s dominant play, clutches are intense, exciting affairs that significantly impact the momentum of a match. Similarly, Red Bull sponsors one of the most important moments in a League of Legends match when a team secures an objective known as the Baron. Finally, during breaks the broadcast will promote each brand through commercials and static ads, one of which is for an upcoming collegiate Valorant tournament Red Bull is hosting called Campus Clutch.
Verizon has carried its own activation over from League of Legends. Fans who also watched last week’s Mid-Season Invitational will recognize All Chat, a campaign wherein fans tweet something related to the tournament using a Verizon-branded hashtag for the opportunity to have their tweet displayed during the broadcast.
While there is nothing particularly revolutionary about any of these activations, it is significant that brands like Red Bull and Verizon are able to carry activations across multiple Riot Games properties. Many LoL-based activations such as the State Farm analyst desk could easily translate to Valorant in the future, and even continue into the company’s smaller esports such as Teamfight Tactics.
In fact, several of the activations currently established in LoL have no direct parallel yet in Valorant, including the analyst desk. MVP and player of the game awards, replays, additional analysis segments – without any additional innovation there is still plenty of sponsor inventory available at Valorant tournaments that Riot has already sold through in LoL.
One final note of comparison to MSI – the change in staging appears to have had an impact on player jersey visibility. Rather than being seated behind a large computer bank covered in screens, the Valorant teams are seated facing each other at long, curved tables. At MSI, players were boxed in and close up shots often only showed their face, or one side of their jersey from a side-angle group shot. The additional space between players at the Valorant event seems to have allowed cameras to vary the angle of closeups on players, providing more visibility to sponsors on the front of the jersey. It also helps that thus far, the event’s many technical pauses have given a great deal of screen time to team partners.