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'Valorant' beta scrapes Twitch TV ceiling

The next release from "League of Legends" studio Riot Games soared to 1.73m simultaneous viewers on streaming platform Twitch, close behind record holder "League of Legends" itself.

After pre-recorded highlights went live the week before, a North American and European closed beta testing phase for team action game "Valorant" began on April 7.

The subsequent audience peak of 1.73m concurrent viewers took the pre-release title close to Twitch TV's all-time high.

Game studio Riot, best known for free-to-play multiplayer battle arena and eSports staple "League of Legends" had primed fans and onlookers to create a Twitch surge by tying wider beta access to livestream viewership.

Those wanting to get into the invite-only beta could connect their Riot Games and Twitch accounts, then watch a "Valorant" stream to enter the mix for a chance at receiving access for themselves.

All but one of Twitch's top ten most-followed channels logged time in "Valorant" on Tuesday -- Tfue, shroud, Myth, Summit1g, Timthetatman, Riot Games, Dakotaz, Pokimane and Dr Disrespect.

Only Ninja, Twitch's number one, didn't get involved -- he was busy playing on Microsoft's rival service, Mixer, which he joined in August 2019.

The game is positioning itself as an eSports essential, attracting many top Twitch channel hosts and a growing number of professional players.

Like "LEague of Legends," it'll be available for free; like "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" (free), "Overwatch" (paid), and "Rainbow Six: Siege" (paid), it's a tactical team game that rewards quick reactions and strategic play.

Two five-person teams go up against each other, attempting to reach 13 wins first, in a map of tight corners, corridors, obstacles and open spaces.

As well as combining the military aesthetic of "CS:GO" and "R6" with the cartoon style of "Overwatch," it also combines an emphasis on round-to-round weapon and equipment selection with a roster of hero characters that have distinct yet overlapping  abilities.

Riot Games is shooting for a mid-2020 release on PC. Console releases have not been ruled out, though PC remains the focus for the time being.