Japan’s Valorant esports scene
Valorant has taken the world by storm and has provided a lot of first-person shooter enthusiasts a game that they can look forward to playing for years. The mechanics in Valorant is hugely similar to Counter Strike: Global Offensive but it has way more complex skill systems that set it apart from other games of its own genre.
Japan is a nation that has always been known for its love for esports and video games. Valorant is a game that surged in popularity the moment it was released to the world in 2020.
But how is Valorant doing lately and is it still as popular in Japan as it was during its initial release? Here is everything you need to know about the Japanese Valorant esports scene and why you should be on it:
How Valorant is booming in Japan
As mentioned, Japan is all about their video game culture and the competitive nature around it. There are many factors as to why the Valorant esports scene is so popular right now. Most of them are attributed to players, teams, and expanded brackets that make the game more accessible in Japan.
DRX making a name in the Japanese Valorant esports scene
Popular South Korean Valorant esports team, DRX, is one of the teams that had the most success with Valorant. In the 2022 season, they placed third on the overall rankings which is two places short of being crowned the champions once again.
Since Valorant is immensely popular in Japan, DRX is planning to build a Game Changers team in the country itself instead of its home nation South Korea. The biggest reason for this is the many factors that made Japan a great battleground for the Valorant esports scene.
When esports was in its infantile stages, Japan’s most prominent esports scene was its fighting game series like Tekken and Smash Brothers. Now, the video game market expanded in such a way that gave players a lot of options when it came to gaming.
First-person shooter games have become immensely popular and when Valorant came to the scene, Japanese players quickly gave it a chance and the rest is history. The growing interest for games like Valorant sparked a ton of opportunities for incredible players to join DRX’s Game Changers.
DRX recruited its first member, DRX Dori, who is an incredible player who can represent the all female Valorant esports team someday. This is only the beginning of the potential of the Valorant esports scene in Japan, and it starts with a prominent South Korean squad that can turn things around in the foreseeable future.
Viewership increasing compared to other countries
When it comes to viewership of the Valorant esports scene, Japan has surged over other countries that stay tuned to its most prominent competitions and tournaments. During Valorant’s most recent Champions Tour (VCT), the following are the number of peak viewers during the 2022 season:
North America: 216,858
Asia Pacific: 106,512
Latin America: 89,633
With how small Japan is compared to these countries and continents, it’s telling how massively popular Valorant is in Japan as it only turns 3 years old in 2023. Also, Japan has 34.5% more viewership than the second largest region in the Valorant esports scene, North America.
More particularly, Valorant became popular in Japan after the Masters Reykjavik event earlier this year. The impressive performance by ZETA Division during the event drew a lot of attention from the Japanese esports community.
There are also other big reasons as to why Valorant is increasingly becoming more popular in Japan. For instance, Riot Games has been supporting the growth of Valorant esports in Japan through local events.
This has led to a surge in popularity, and the scene is thriving more than ever. Recently, Japanese esports organisation, RAGE, hosted an All-Stars event where fans had the opportunity to meet and interact with Valorant esports personalities. The event was a huge success, with a massive turnout from fans.
Women’s circuit expanding in Japan
Valorant’s all-women circuit Game Changers will also expand in Japan in 2023 to form more Japanese female teams. Before, video games were primarily targeted to the male audience, especially when it comes to genres like shooters.
Now that the industry has become more fluid when it comes to its target demographic, the potential for an all-women’s Valorant league is high and Japan is looking to spearhead this project. As mentioned earlier as well, DRX has invited DRX Dori who will become the first member of the Game Changers team in Japan.
Also, it will divide the league into two main subcategories which means more esports games for the fans as well. This will only lead to more promotion for the game that will hopefully prolong its popularity as years wane just like its counterparts like CS:GO has done in the past.
Top Japanese Valorant teams to bet on
Aside from a plethora of events that are making Valorant more popular in Japan, its top esports teams are also contributing to its fame and promotion. To check out which top-tier Japanese Valorant teams to set eyes on, below are the following prominent squads that helped Valorant become as big as it is in Japan today:
The ZETA DIVISION, formerly called JUPITER, joined the Valorant esports scene in April 2020. This was similar to how another popular esports team, Natus Vincere, started in Dota 2 as one of the pioneering all-star squads to compete in its own tournaments.
Since then, they have established themselves as one of Japan’s top teams, winning both the Japanese Ignition Series and First Strike Japan competitions early in the game’s history. Some of its best active players playing today are Koji ‘Laz’ Ushida and Tomoaki ‘crow’ Maruoka are only two of the five amazing members of the squad. They have sharp shooters that can call fights and carry the game to win championships.
Northeption is another impressive Valorant team based in Japan. Some of its active players for the 2023 season are Kohei ‘BlackWiz’ Mikami and Daichi ‘Derialy’ Doi. These players are great offensive duelists and are also incredible in other positions due to their versatility.
They have great synergy and can dominate any team that comes in their way. However, Northeption needs to gain a lot of experience which other teams simply have. But once the 2023 season concludes, they will definitely gain some experience where they can improve on their matchups with more veteran teams in the league.
FENNEL Female is an all-women’s team that is composed of players like Haruka ‘Curumi’ Tajima and Kasumi ‘Len’ Owatari. FENNEL Female is arguably the best female Valorant squad and has sharp shooters that can gun down any opposing squads that come their way.
Their tactical way of attacking the enemy team whether attackers or defenders is better than any female-dominated squads in Valorant. With this much talent in the roster, they are clear favourites to win the all-female competition like the Game Changer.
The Valorant betting scene: Best tournaments to bet on
If you are into esports betting, Valorant is an excellent venue for placing wagers. To get you started, here are some aspects about Valorant betting that you need to know:
Betting markets are prominent in the esports scene. You can bet on the outcome of rounds, matches, or entire tournaments in various esports games. Additionally, some esports titles also offer the option to bet on in-game elements that don’t necessarily determine the outcome of the match.
In Valorant, you have the usual markets like match winner which lets you predict which team you think will win or team score. This will give you the opportunity to guess how many rounds a team will win during a match.
Valorant betting odds explained
In esports betting, ‘odds’ indicate the expected likelihood of a team’s win. The bigger the odds of a team winning, the lower the payout for a correct guess. In Valorant, learning about the odds is crucial in making better decisions when it comes to your wagers. The most common odds in sports betting Japan sites like Sportsbet are American, decimal, and fractional odds.
Top Valorant esports events to bet on
If you’re going to bet on any Valorant esports competition, the Champions Tour or VCT should be the first on your list of tournaments to place real money wagers on. The VCT is considered the most important and prominent competition in Valorant and one of the most anticipated esports events in 2023. Other noteworthy tournaments that come to mind are Valorant Masters and Challengers.
Valorant is indeed a game that will last years if updated correctly. With top-tier tournaments and profitable betting markets continuing to dominate the industry, there’s no question that it will linger on as one of Japan’s most prominent first-person shooter games for the foreseeable future.