The Masters Copenhagen, the latest major event on Valorant’s esports calendar, concluded over the weekend. And as has happened many times in the game’s short history so far, it produced some downright wild results. FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), a Chinese-owned but European team took the crown after a five-map thriller with Singapore-based Paper Rex (PRX).
In many ways, the story behind FPX’s big win is completely unbelievable. Despite being one of Valorant Esports’ oldest core rosters, having been together since 2020, this was the team’s LAN debut. They missed Reykjavik earlier this year due to visa issues complicated by the ongoing war in Ukraine, a tournament many experts chose to win. This time, in Copenhagen, they arrived as the determined underdog behind Fnatic, a team they have consistently lost at home in recent months.
And yet, FPX overcame the odds and their rivals, though not before being defeated by Fnatic and Korea’s DRX in the group stages. In the end, it was a run through the bottom bracket of the tournament that paved his way to the Grand Finals and a win over the people’s favorite in PRX, who are much loved for their aggressive, flashy playing style. FPX went on to lead the year-end main event, the Champions, with the trophy, $200,000, and valuable circuit points.
Victorious Moment, Masters Copenhagen
Oh, and it was all in front of a live crowd for the first time ever at the Valorant Champions Tour event, with 3,000 people in attendance! The moment FPX finally lifted the trophy to thunderous applause and thunderous applause was a moment to remember; It almost felt like poetic justice to a team that had experienced so much misfortune before.
And yet, the unfortunate reality is that the Masters Copenhagen was Valorant’s least-watched esports event to date, recording a peak concurrent viewership of 783,985. Hardly poor, but certainly a downward trend from Reykjavik which exceeded 1 million.
The root cause of this decline is multifaceted, but at its core, in my opinion, is largely due to one major factor: Valorant esports is unpredictable, something that’s always been built to look great from a neutral’s point of view, but Eventually no one is stopped. By keeping the team in consistent form and building a substantial fan base in the process.
We know from many other sports, both traditional and esports, that winning teams create legions of loyal supporters. Fans want results that they can understand – who is the best team, who are the best players, and which areas are major and minor. These kinds of comparisons create storylines, fuel intrigue, and create those god-awful GOAT conversations and social media tier lists that people love to contemplate.
Like all sports, Valorant has seen these kinds of discussions and debates. The difference, however, is that it’s hard to pin down clear winners for fans to go after. The Sentinels, for example, looked a lot like Astralis or Valorant’s Navi in 2021… until they suddenly arrived. Envy changed its name to OpTic to build brand recognition, then won the Masters Reykjavik and seemed almost destined to replace the Sentinels as the next hottest team in North America… until they joined Guild, PRX and Did not exit Copenhagen with FPX’s poor performance.
Europe, Valorant’s largest region by size, has experienced the same issues. Teams representing some of the most popular organizations in the world have been up and down over the years. The G2, for example, almost strangely peaked and sank; Team Liquid is either the best Tier 1 team in Europe or the worst on a day to day basis; Fnatic are the “almost” team in the region, the no-name champions who always look great but can’t win anything. Major winners Acend and M3C (formerly, Gambit) have both been out in dramatic fashion after being regarded as the best team in the world at different times.
Had any of these teams been able to maintain their form and make it to Copenhagen, I am sure the viewership would have been much higher. Of course, the brand power of these organizations alone garners more interest than it does in any esports, but the larger issue that concerns Valorant is that the lack of consistency means that organizations cannot build fanship based on Valorant teams. are doing. , It’s largely just interest driving brand identity. The continued health of Valorant esports certainly depends on a team or two proving themselves above the rest with a consistent string of results. If we’re being honest, in a perfect world (for those who want to see Valorant Esports prosper), this would be one of the so-called “pressure” teams with an established fanbase.
FPX is not that. For all their incredible strategic plays and personal excellence, FPX are a well-regarded team among Valorant’s spirited scene, but they are little known to casual fans. And so, even though I personally would have loved to see them succeed, it seems like we’re almost back to square one, with a Valorant team going after the fans as the new GOAT squad of their own. Making up names.
Image Source: Riot Games
It’s absurd, in fact, that fanship often boils down to such idiosyncrasies as to which teams and players are better than others. The fact that it often looks like any one team can win in any Valorant tournament if they get in form should be something to celebrate. But again, this is human nature as it pertains to fanship.
I could spend hours explaining why this happens, from the initial obsession to the age-old argument over whether Valorant’s skill threshold is high enough to help legitimize the result of persistent esports. The bottom line is that the randomness of Valorant Esports, which creates an unusual story and unpredictable results, is appealing only to hardcore enthusiasts. Casual fans, who will eventually balk at Riot Games’ ambitions, need familiar names to go back and forth to make sure Valorant is a major esports future. So, let’s hope FPX moves on from here… or win the Sentinel LCQ!