Riot Games Reveals VALORANT Game Changers Program
A fully flushed out competitive ecosystem just for women’s VALORANT will be deployed in 2021. Per a Feb. 22 announcement from Riot Games, the VALORANT Champions Tour Game Changers program will debut with the first North American series at the beginning of March. Game Changers will “supplement the competitive season by creating new opportunities and exposure for marginalized genders within VALORANT.”
This new program follows the success of the “For the Women Summer Showdown” that took place back in September as part of the Ignition Series. In that event, the MAJKL women’s roster took first place before getting signed as Cloud9 White. This was the same event where former CS:GO pro Christine “potter” Chi caught “the competitive bug,” leading to her signing with Evil Geniuses. The VALORANT community GALORANTs was pivotal in helping set up that event, and will do so again as part of Game Changers.
Game Changers will be split into two “core competitive initiatives,” the Game Changers Series and the Game Changers Academy. The Series events will be top-tier events that will follow a similar tournament and prize pool structure to events from 2020’s Ignition Series. The first of those events, as mentioned earlier, will consist of North American squads and will be run by Nerd Street Gamers. More Series events will be scheduled for the remainder of the year.
Game Changers Academy will consist of monthly tournaments aimed at giving more opportunities to players to “compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level.” These events will be organized in partnership with GALORANTs. VALORANT Executive Producer Anna Donlon referred to women competing in games as “a daunting task,” leading Riot to push for an inclusive esports environment.
“While we’re addressing this challenge in-game, with improvements to chat, voice communications, and mitigation of griefing, we also see an opportunity to take another step with esports.”
Dealing with harassment in-game and from a competitive community is certainly not a problem endemic to just VALORANT. Jessica “JessGOAT” Bolden wrote recently for Hotspawn about her battles with sexism and harassment in the Rainbow Six Siege community. Petra “Petra” Stoker and Michaela “mimimimichaela” Lintrup of XSET CS:GO spoke to us about how they handle the harassment. The VALORANT team at Riot appears to want to elevate both women and the women’s competitive communities with this new initiative. Ideally this leads to more signed female rosters and a more robust competitive field in the near future.