'Valorant' Fans in Brazil Empty Arena As Soon As Their Team Loses

Some 'Valorant' fans believe that hosting future majors in Brazil is a bad idea, following tense VCT LOCK//IN finals.
A photo of two players from pro-Valorant team, LOUD, stand with their hands making an "L" shape.
Image by Riot Games

Brazil is one of the world’s largest esports markets, and has become a mainstay in virtually every international esports league. The country consistently produces top players in addition to extremely dedicated fans, as long as the team is also Brazilian and winning. This notable national dedication, and lack of interest in international teams, came to a head in a recent Valorant major, held in Brazil, at which the majority of the audience disappeared, in frustration, before the series’ intense final set between FNATIC and LOUD, a Brazilian team, ended in defeat for LOUD.


VCT LOCK//IN, a part of the Valorant Champions Tour organized by Valorant developer, Riot Games, was a month-long tournament held in Sao Paulo. The tournament’s attendance was, like many esports events, spotty throughout. It is, after all, an international tournament in a sport that is most frequently streamed online, so inconsistent attendance is to be expected. However, some members of the Valorant community have taken umbrage with the fan’s conduct in the tournament’s Grand Finals between FNATIC and LOUD.

Valorant is, unlike many traditional sports, a game of deeply imperfect information—gathering intel on your opponent’s positions is a key part of playing the game at a competitive level. This led to some arguing that the crowd’s intense reactions to certain moments of play provided LOUD with an unfair advantage. Following LOUD’s brutal, reverse-sweep defeat, fans emptied the arena before FNATIC was actually crowned the victor, much to the offense of some fans. It is, however, worth noting that FNATIC’s players took the whole situation in stride, some going as far as complimenting LOUD’s fans.

Sports fans leaving because their team is losing is nothing new, but this situation is notable because the global esports community operates a bit differently than many other popular sports. Esports fans are, generally, enthusiasts of the actual sport or game itself, which distinguishes them from more casual fans who tie their prospects to a single team, whether it be national or civic. Sports can help shape the fundamental identity of a place, in a way that esports simply have not on account of their niche popularity. This means that the average esports crowd is often invested in seeing a genericized Good Match, even if their team isn’t competing.

Normally, this would be fine, but the esports community has a pretty serious chip on its shoulder, and a real hunger for public legitimacy. Esports are not only a new and niche mode of competition, but the very idea has, historically, been a punchline for people outside of the community. This chip leads to a dogmatic approach to event attendance, as a way of proving that people do, in fact, care about esports. A mostly empty audience for a major tournament isn’t just considered rude to the players, but actively harmful to the broader popularity and legitimacy of esports.

It is, however, worth noting that Brazil, like many countries, has a deep relationship between sport and national identity. The country has, since the early 20th century, used football as a nation-building tool and symbol. Unlike baseball or American football, both of which are certainly important to the U.S. national identity, Brazil’s historical relationship to soccer and other sports is rooted in international leagues and federations. Excellence in international sport has become a part of some Brazilians’ national identity, and that extends to esports, especially given the country’s history of excellence in the field—particularly in tac-shooters like Valorant and Counter-Strike.

Some Reddit users warn that, if Brazilian fans don’t show up for international teams at majors, or continue being sore losers, that esports leagues will stop hosting events there as punishment (in spite of the extremely high ticket sales). However, this punitive approach to event scheduling forgets the significant cultural differences across international sporting communities, differences that other, more popular sports and federations have long ago accepted. If the esports community hopes to gain real legitimacy, it has to learn to stop snapping at fans who enjoy sport the “wrong” way.