Valorant Esports scene has witnessed incredible growth since its inception in its close beta stage in April 2020. The FPS Esports scene has grown enormously in less than a year as well. Valorant Champions Tour 2021: Stage 1 Masters inviting teams competing in 10 different world regions only attests to the game's global success.
This title has witnessed many pro players from other Esports like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch etc., migrating to Valorant during its closed beta stage.
Ex-CSGO pros like Spencer "Hiko" Martin, Braxton "Brax" Pierce, Oscar "Mixwell" Cañellas Colocho, Tyson "TenZ" Ngo, and Ex-Overwatch pros like Jay "Sinatraa" Won and Corey "Corey" Nigra are prime examples of players who jumped ship to Valorant in its early days.
With a background in similar games, the phenomenon of extremely talented players joining the rosters of big Esports organizations has been an interesting spectacle.
But one might argue that this phenomenon has resulted in a problem of imbalance that affects team owners and jeopardizes newer organizations' chances of staying alive.
Trouble in Valorant’s paradise
There are very few players in the Valorant pro scene who have no background in Esports. Most are industry veterans. This fact is the reason for the power imbalance.
On one side, the game has grown to draw 40,000 viewership. On the other hand, players allegedly make more than $25,000 every month. To sum it up, the team owners are facing a scenario where they are running losses.
Do Not Peek Entertainment’s Scott Smith shed light on this issue and mentioned that this might have a huge impact on Valorant Esports in the future.
One might write this off as irrational fear because these organizations are taking a risk on a booming Esports scene. That is a plausible take on the issue. But that doesn't negate the fact that newer Esports organizations are strained by the salary standards set for pro players.
This is bound to lead to a future where only big organizations that entered the scene early remain. Such a scenario would be stagnating for Valorant Esports.
When Rod “Slasher” Breslau was asked about this issue in an interview with ggrecon.com, he instantly recognized that most team owners are not making any money. The current Valorant Esports ecosystem is unsustainable in the long-term. Breslau said,
“There’s a lot of team owners in the red, and they have to cut costs, but I’m never gonna shed a tear for a player getting a big contract. I’m all in support of the players.
He further added that,
If Skadoodle or Brax or whatever can get 40k out of T1, good for them, get their money, get whatever contract you can, I don’t think it’s sustainable, and I don’t think it’s going to be sustainable going forward, and it probably is more money than is deserving for the current scene of the esport which doesn’t even really exist yet, but I’m not gonna be clamoring against it or something.”
On this note, it’s important to point out that most, if not all, Esports team owners in Valorant are well-established organizations whose venture into Valorant has taken place only after being successful in other games.
Simply speaking, they had the capital from elsewhere that they invested in Valorant. These organizations can afford to bet on the scene becoming big in the future to see large returns on their investment.
While on the topic of large organizations taking risks in the Valorant Esports scene's volatility, it is pertinent to look at Tenz’s buyout as Sentinels won the VCT NA Stage 1 Masters with him in the squad as a stand-in.
Tenz: Valorant’s biggest buyout yet?
As Sentinels became champions of VCT NA Stage 1 Masters, Tenz’s buyout has been the town's talk.
Tenz joined Sentinels as a stand-in just before the tournament as Jay "Sinatraa" Won was removed from the roster following a sexual abuse controversy. Tenz is still under a contract with Cloud 9. He was streaming for them after stepping down as a pro player from C9’s Valorant roster.
Now that Tenz is arguably considered the most valuable player in Valorant Esports, the whole community is interested to see the whole buyout procedure unfold, as noted by The Esports Writer Fionn in his tweet
Amid this grand spectacle, there is a dark undertone. Sentinels can most likely afford a multi-million dollar buyout now. But it may dent their chances in the long run if the squad does not perform well.
Although there is no question regarding Tenz’s potential as a player, it still raises many questions about Valorant’s nascent Esports ecosystem.