Franchises

Version1 submits bid to Riot Games' Valorant partnership program

By Jason Wilson
Version1 has officially applied to be a partnered team under Riot Games' new approach to Valorant esports.Version1

Esports organization Version1, whose owners are the Wilf family of the Minnesota Vikings, has applied to Riot Games’ partnership program for Valorant’s esports scene. The move isn’t a surprise, as Version1 has been active in the hero shooter’s competitive scene since it kicked off in 2021, but it does showcase the difference approaches Riot is taking compared to its competitors like Activision Blizzard, one that not only saves prospective teams millions of dollars that they can use to on roster construction or training but also opens competition up to organizations that don't have the resources to match the franchise fees or other esports.

Version1 joins The Guard, T1, Xset, Complexity, Evil Geniuses, TSM, and Shopify Rebellion as among the over 150 applicants to the new Valorant esports program. Riot said when it comes to North America, it received more applications for this partnership than for its 2018 League of Legends partnership process.

“Part of what appealed to us about Riot’s partnership model for Valorant is the timescale that they’re thinking on. We’re an organization that aggressively plans for the future, and when we make decisions about what to invest resources in, we consider the impact of those choices 5, 10, sometimes 20 years down the road," said Jake Trobaugh, Version1's vice president of esports and acquisitions, to Sports Business Journal. "Riot believes Valorant will remain a cultural powerhouse in the decades to come, and we share that confidence. We’re eager to bring our long-term vision to the table.”

In April, Riot announced a different approach to Valorant esports. Instead of charging franchise fees for its leagues, as Activision Blizzard did for Call of Duty and Overwatch esports (with fees reportedly in the $20 million neighborhood), Riot is using a long-term partnership model, akin to what it has for League of Legends.

At the moment, Valorant has an open tournament structure, and Version1 already competes in it. It also has a women’s team, VersionX, for Valorant. In the April announcement, Riot also introduced its Game Changers program for women competing in Valorant.

Version1 has its headquarters in Eagan, Minn., and along with its Valorant squads, it also fields teams in the Call of Duty League (Minnesota Røkkr) and in Rocket League.

Update, 4:38 p.m. on June 23 with answers from Riot Games.

Update, 9:08 p.m. on June 22 with a quote from Version1

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