Mar 18, 2021

Esports betting and the Valorant Champions Tour — what you need to know

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Riot Games’ first-person shooter Valorant launched it’s pro circuit, the 2021 Valorant Champions Tour this February.

Competition has already fired up across the globe, with the first edition of the Challengers Series kicking off at the beginning of February. PandaScore has been hard at work to provide a quality Valorant product with plenty of markets for bookmakers.

We’ve been offering fixed, prematch odds from day 1 of competition, and recently rolled out live odds to bookmakers including and CSGOEmpire. If Riot’s latest competitive venture has sticking power — and early signs point to yes — we’ll be looking to expand the number and complexity markets we offer.

If you’re already familiar with Valorant and how the game works, you can skip ahead to the markets we’re offering. Otherwise, here’s everything you need to know about Valorant.

Image credit: Riot Games

Valorant 101

In a game of Valorant, 2 teams of 5 players compete against one another with the goal of winning 13 rounds to claim victory. The attacking team can win a round by killing all 5 defenders, or planting and detonating the ‘spike’ (or bomb) in a designated zone on the map. The defending team can win a round by killing all 5 attackers, preventing the spike from being planted or defusing the spike after it has been planted.

Each round lasts a maximum of 100 seconds, and can end earlier should either team reach one of their win conditions. After 12 rounds, the attacking and defending teams swap sides. If a team wins 13 rounds but is only ahead by 1 round (say, 13–12), the match continues until a team wins by 2 rounds to win the map.

In the professional scene, teams compete against each other across multiple maps in a best of 3 or 5 map series.

Image credit: Riot Games

Similar, but different

There similarities to popular first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), with players earning cash for winning rounds, killing opponents and planting the spike. At the start of each round players can spend any cash earned on weapons and abilities.

A striking difference between this game and CS:GO is that rather than being a stock standard person with a gun, in Valorant you can select from a number of unique characters called ‘agents.’ Each agent has 3 standard abilities and one ‘Ultimate’ ability, much like champions in League of Legends. Abilities can range from grenades, smokes or flashbangs to ice walls, robots and more.

How the Champions Tour works

Rather than starting with a fully franchised league system like in League of Legends, Riot Games has decided on a region-based tournament structure.

Image credit: Riot Games

Each region will ramp up with knockout tournaments over the year, culminating in 16 of the best teams in the world competing in December at the Valorant Championship event.

Teams will compete in their domestic Challengers events, with the top sides from each region progressing to a Masters event. Teams from across the globe are expected to play against one another to earn Circuit points at these Masters events to gain qualification to the final Champions event.

Image credit: Riot Games

There are also opportunities for teams to still make it through knockout tournaments, including winning the third Masters event or finishing in the top 4 at the Last Chance Qualifier, a tournament for the best of the rest to still make it to the main event.

Markets offered by PandaScore

We’ve been refining our deep learning models since day 1 of Challengers, and have developed from offering fixed, prematch odds to now live odds on several main markets. Punters will of course be able to bet on the series winner and for each match, bets can be placed on the following markets:

  • Winner 2-way
  • Winner 3-way
  • Total Maps Over/Under
  • Correct Score
  • First Map Result
  • [Team] To Win A Map
  • [Team] Maps Won
  • Maps Handicaps

A sample of our Valorant trading Dashboard.

Why are these the only markets on offer?

Put simply, we’re starting out with these limited markets because a truly comprehensive amount of data doesn’t exist and the scene isn’t established yet. League of Legends and CS:GO had years of competition to pull historical data from to help shape our models and inform our traders.

Teams are still in the process of solidifying their rosters, with players moving between teams, upstarts climbing through the solo queue ranks and pros from other games like CS:GO and Overwatch making the switch. This presents unique challenges for our traders and models, which we are still working through to ensure we’re being as accurate as possible.

We also don’t have a super established meta game in the competitive scene either. In games like League of Legends or Dota 2 what works well in solo queue doesn’t always translate in professional matches and vice versa.

There’s also the question of how Riot Games chooses to schedule and stream matches. Will there be multiple games running at once? Will they all be streamed? If so, where? There’s also the question of whether streams run on a delay as well, and how long is this delay?

Just like everyone else, we’re learning with every match and every series. We’ve been creating data and refining our models as the VCT continues — the more data we have the better our models and the more accurate our odds.

With a global tournament structure that’s already developing regional followings from Latin America to Japan, gameplay that blends the gunplay of CS:GO with the ability mechanics of LoL and the organisational expertise from over a decade of competitive esports, Valorant has huge potential for growth as an esport and betting product.