Skip to main content

TFT Vegas Open Championship Belt Showcases New Era for Esports

The Tacticians Belt will be given to the winner of the first TFT Open and the TFT Esports directors don't think it will be the last.

It’s fitting that the National Basketball Association is crowning their first-ever In-Season Tournament champion in Las Vegas the day before Riot Games hosts their first-ever open-bracket LAN tournament for Teamfight Tactics in the same city. After all, both events have the similar goal of creating a fun but important event to give players and fans something to be proud of on the road to the main championship.

The in-season NBA event will be awarding the winning team the brand-new NBA Cup. This is not a replacement for the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy given to the winner of the NBA Finals and it's not supposed to be. Just like the trophy awarded to the winner of the TFT Vegas Open is not supposed to be a replacement for the Golden Spatula.

Building a Better Belt

Not a Spatula, but something just as symbolic, when the Tacticians Belt is given to the winner of the TVO it will not only signify the end of what is sure to be a spectacular event but the beginning of the new era of esports at Riot Games.

TFT could have taken a similar approach to other forms of competition when it comes to giving its winner a tangible title. It could have given the winner of the TVO a Ring or even a Bracelet similar to what the World Series of Poker gives its champion after all, the event is taking place in Vegas. But the Belt also takes inspiration from Vegas according to TFT Brand Director, AJ Blumenthal.

“I’d be remiss if I said we weren't initially inspired by the venue of Las Vegas and the energy of fight nights,” Blumenthal said.

Looking at the Belt itself, the color scheme resonates with Vegas, the Purple and Blue on the base of the belt showcase the nightlife that can only be found in Vegas while the bright colors in the middle of the belt show off the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, but what's interesting about the belt is the middle part. The title simply says Teamfight Tactics champion but for a belt awarded to the champion of the Vegas Open specifically, not having that front and center is a bit odd. But Blumenthal says that it's intentional.

“The belt is beyond just the TFT Vegas Open, we think we can create another one-of-one belt for any potential events,” Blumenthal said.

Meaning that the belt is future-proof. If this belt was designed as a one-off with no intention of using the framework again, one might assume that the Remix Rumble and Vegas Open logos would be front and center, Instead, we see the Vegas Open logo on the left and the Remix Rumble logo on the right. What is in the middle is a new logo that is exclusive to the TFT Open with the idea if more events like this do happen in the future, they already have the belt skeleton ready to go. But of course, the TVO has to happen first.

“I don't think this is direct confirmation or anything but I think it indicates that this kind of thing can be a big piece of the future of TFT esports,” Sherman said.

The New Era of TFT Esports

Jazz Bard skin

The TVO didn't happen overnight, it's been a long time coming. It's been a little more than a year since TFT Global Esports head, Michael Sherman took the role. From Day 1, he knew he wanted to take TFT esports in this direction.

“I don't think I came into (this role) with a view of how to just make incremental changes of what TFT looked like,” Sherman said. “I was trying to go into an open point of view what should the future of TFT look like, not what it looks like today and improve based on that, I think a year and a half later this is our first really big swing in that direction.”

With that said Sherman mentioned that there are some things that he likes about the current state of TFT esports. For starters, Sherman mentioned that Set Championships will remain the primary global competition at the end of each expansion even as the cadence of Sets climbs to three per year.

“Set 10 is an awesome set in and of itself and it stands on the same level as all the other sets I think having set championships is a feature, not a bug,” Sherman said. “I think players like to talk about the sets they were best at and is a really important piece of the (TFT esports) strategy”.

With that in mind, Sherman did say that getting to those Set Championships needed to be revamped specifically when it comes to getting each region on the same page. Sherman said that players should expect a more streamlined approach to Set Championship qualification across the world.

“The general aspiration for next year is that events a pretty standard around the world,” Sherman said. “What the events are, how many players there are in them, how they feed into your regional circuit.”

Speaking of streamlining regions, some regions have open qualifiers as a part of their set championship qualifying process, which both Blumenthal and Sherman feel strongly about. Both of them share a similar philosophy in which the TVO is a realization of that ideal, getting as many players who want to play competitively and outlet to do so. Whether that be in open qualifiers for regional finals or something else.

“My vision is that high-stakes play is accessible to players as a part of the core set experience,” Sherman said. “We're looking to fulfill players where they’re playing in games that they internalize as having more meaning than what they normally have”

The just-announced spectator mode finally coming to the live servers will definitely go a long way at fostering grassroots tournaments where players can experience those adrenaline-pumping moments and hopefully foster aspirations to compete in even more tournaments, perhaps even the next TFT Open if there is one.

“TFT is a competitive strategy game where you feel really good when you get first and you are really bummed when you get eight and there's no hiding from that competitive motivation that players have,” Sherman said.

While nothing is set in stone, as long as the TVO is a success Sherman and Blumenthal don't see a reason why there won't be more TFT Open events in the future even as early as next year but there are a lot of things that need to go right starting with this first one. But with the reception already high before the event has officially kicked off things already look good, however, there is one metric that won't be measured by things like views or entries that Blumenthal and Sherman have at the top of their list.

“I want TFT players to be really proud to be a TFT player,” Sherman said. “At the end of the day, the core goal here is for players to see this and think ‘this is so cool, I want to be part of this, I love this game’”.

Blumenthal added that pride plays the most important part in the end goal, getting players to play the game.

“We want to inspire players to compete,” Blumenthal said. “The positioning of TFT esports is very unique and we think we want to be the most accessible esports within Riot and then position TFT esports as the most accessible esport in the world, to do that you need to inspire players to want to compete,

I think The Vegas Open is our first go at someone at home watching or competing and saying ‘I’m going to do at the next one, I can’t miss it’”