Stream delays, Meet and Greets only for VIPs, power failures and fake post-event video production, there was a lot wrong with the event. Hopefully, things will be better at the next Indian Valorant LAN event.

The Valorant India Invitational was the first VCT off-season event in South Asia. As one of the biggest esports event in India, there were high hopes for the tournament. It delivered on some fronts but failed on a few others. The GXR Valorant India LAN was lacking on multiple fronts but there is an opportunity for Indian esports to redeem itself in December.

With star-studded teams including Paper Rex and the newly assembled Team Heretics in attendance, the $100,000 Hyderabad LAN event was a display of Indian LAN events to the world. Unfortunately, the problems took center stage more than one would hope.

A four-hour delay to kick off the event

The first day of the event saw thousands of SEA fans tune in to Galaxy Racer’s Twitch to catch Team Secret and RRQ face off against each other. More than three hours after the scheduled start time, the stream was still offline with fans wondering about the status of the event. The tournament organizer’s official Twitter timeline was silent on the delays.

But the games did start – nearly four hours later – and the first game started off with a dominant RRQ. It looked to be rather one-sided until Team Secret started a late comeback in the second half. Eventually, Team RRQ still won the game, but there was enough suspense around a possible comeback to make it interesting.

A rough start to a $100,000 tournament with teams from SEA and one from Europe in attendance.

Tweets from org owners and team managers about the delays started making the rounds.

Slow Turnaround times lead to 2 am start for matches

The event also had inordinate delays between two matches – often running close to an hour before the start of the second match. The domino effect from the late start and the delays between matches resulted in Paper Rex starting their final match of the day well beyond midnight.

It was nearly 2 am on November 19, Indian Standard Time and Paper Rex started their Bind against Bleed esports.

And the catch? The first match on Day 2 also involved Paper Rex – initially scheduled to start at 9.30 am IST. 

With a 1-1 standing at the end of Day 1 and working on a few hours of sleep, Paper Rex losing to BOOM would not have been a massive surprise to anyone. But they won the match essentially confirming their presence in the playoffs.

The Riki crowd

Here are some pictures from Day 1 of the event

There were several rows of empty chairs at the  GXR Valorant India LAN.
The quality of chairs for fans at GXR Valorant India could have done with some improvement.
Empty Mono Blocc chairs on Day 1 at the GXR Valorant India LAN
Empty Chairs on Day 1 at the GXR Valorant India

The general section of the venue wore a desolate look on Day 1. The image of the cheap seats for fans staying empty was not a proud moment for Indian Valorant fans. 

And the reactions from Twitch chat also echoed the surprise at the empty venue when the camera panned through.

But why was the venue empty?

Even though the location is in Hyderabad, a bustling city in the heart of India, the venue is nearly 35 km away from the city. This amounts to nearly an hour’s worth of travel just to reach the venue. For fans who would be attending the venue on Day 1, they would’ve reached back to the city around 3.30-4am due to the delays. The lack of marketing surrounding the event did not help matters as many fans were simply unaware of such an event taking place in the city.

The GMR Arena is the closest available venue to the airport. From a TO perspective, the venue might have made more sense especially with the DJ Snake collaboration on Day 3. But for esports fans, it was a difficult decision to go all the way to the airport for this event.

The impact

The near-empty seats at the venue resulted in some rather questionable decisions by the organizers. 

For starters, there’s this video of a person who’s trying to get fake reactions from the crowd for, what he said, is an official after-movie. The video is verified as original as this article’s writer was sitting just a few rows behind.

For many tournament organizers and fans, this usually comprises a red flag.

On Day 2, during the final match, organizers also moved the handful of general attendees to the VIP section, presumably to make for better fan reaction visuals on stream.

Meet and Greets only for VIP pass holders

The Meet and Greet stage at Valorant India Invitational
The Meet and Greet section was cordoned off and available only to VIP pass holders at GXR Valorant India

Possibly one of the most glaring examples of poor planning was the location of the Meet and Greet stage. Nested in the VIP section, the Meet and Greets were quite often just limited just to the VIP members. 

For many General ticket admissions, who had hoped to get a close-up selfie or just to meet their favorite players, this was the biggest disappointment. 

Power cut or players’ Lunch time? Which one is it?

Organizer’s claims were in direct contrast to player’s claims on Twitter.

On Day 3 of the event after the first map of the Grand Finals, there was a long delay on stream. There was no power on the stage and the display as well as the PCs were all switched off. This was confirmed on Twitter by Team Heretics’ Mixwell.

However, GalaxyRacer tweeted that the break was due to the players’ lunch break.

This writer can confirm the power on the stage was off during this extended break period. Whether it was due to a technical snag or if the TO had cut off power, which seems unlikely, is still not confirmed.

Not everything was bad

Despite the various problems at the tournament, fans were still audience to some top tier Valorant gameplay. With the new Indian Agent Harbor being used at this event, many fans got to see some innovative use of his abilities. With Forsaken and Jinggg popping off on multiple occasions, the excitement that usually accompanies a Paper Rex match was visible all around.

The broadcast talent team at Valorant India Invitational
The broadcast talent team at Valorant India Invitational were exceptional despite the challenges.

Most of the problems with the event could possibly have been solved with an extra dry run day. More thought into the layout and planning would have dramatically improved the quality of the event. Regardless, it was a learning experience and for many players there were some positives as well.

This event was good. It’s the first Indian Valorant event where we got access to practice PCs.

Akram “Rawfiul” Virani 

A missed opportunity for Indian esports …

The GXR Valorant India LAN was the best opportunity for the resurgence of Indian esports. After the OpTic India forsaken debacle, Valorant is the FPS game that has picked up in the region. An Indian org is also part of the VCT franchised teams for 2023 and will compete next at the VCT Kickoff event in Brazil.

With another VCT off-season event coming up in December, Indian esports has another opportunity to showcase the popularity of the game in the country. The next VCT off-season event will take place in mid-December and will be organized by Penta Pro Series. More details on the next off-season event should be announced soon.

Stay tuned to esports for the latest Valorant news and updates.

Rohan - Content Editor

Rohan

Content Editor | Twitter: @rohan_esports | Twitch: rohan_3105

Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2 and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, have spent hours in Cities:Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Love travelling, an admirer of fine movies, writing a sci-fi novel in spare time and coding (Javascript)