Riot Reveals Plans for Female Valorant “Game Changers” Tournament Series
Riot Games has announced plans to run their own series of Valorant events specifically aimed at aspiring female esports competitors called Game Changers. This series of events will function similarly to the Ignition Series from last year, with third parties being awarded events to run as part of the series.
These events are meant to not only foster talent in young women, but also give them a safe space to compete, as that’s been one of the biggest complaints among women trying to enter esports: facing harassment and discrimination from their male counterparts. This inclusion is something that Riot has been professing they’ve been about since Valorant’s inception, and this is the first concrete thing they’ve done in their esports plans to encourage this.
While Riot has been on the ball as far as trying to combat toxic folks in their chat systems, having a concrete way for female competitors to get involved is a step in the right direction.
The first tournament will be awarded to Nerd Street Gamers, who have already made waves in the female-only Valorant scene through running the FTW Summer Showdown. With these tournaments, it’s possible that scouts for main lineups will be watching and hoping to follow the example that Evil Geniuses set with their co-ed roster.
Valorant Making Serious Strides Towards Leveling Playing Field for Girls
The Game Changers series will run throughout the course of 2021 and will be similar in scale to Riot’s Ignition Series. The first event will kick off in late March in North America, with more Valorant events to be announced throughout the year.
“Game Changers will provide tournaments and development programs for women who want to take their game beyond competitive ladder play,” said Whalen Rozelle, the Sr. Director of Esports at Riot Games. “With VALORANT esports, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment for competition and creating safe opportunities for women to compete without fear of identity or gender-based harassment.”
There’s also going to be opportunities for Valorant players looking to level up to the pro level through the VCT Game Changers Academy system. This will host monthly tournaments, giving players more opportunities to compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level in partnership with GALORANT. GALORANT previously helped orgainzer the For the Women Summer Showdown tournament back in September of last year.
“Competing in games as a woman can be a daunting task,often times resulting in a very real competitive disadvantage,” added VALORANT ExecutiveProducer, Anna Donlon. “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.”
Community Reaction Is Inexplicably Split and Fraught With Sexism
While many in the Valorant community have lauded Riot’s efforts, some have asked what the point of Game Changers is in the first place, with their logic being that they should compete with men regardless of opportunity.
Of course, that fails to take into account the sheer amount of sexism and machismo that women have to deal with in the course of just playing the game, let alone attempting to go pro. Many female competitors took to Twitter to voice their concerns, alongside some notable people in the industry calling out their more toxic male counterparts.
“Diversity and inclusion create more opportunities for everyone, better development pipelines and brings more business into esports!” tweeted Erin Ashely Simon of XSET. “When done correctly there are no negatives. Also you can be competitive in esports and strive for better diversity and inclusion at the same time.”
This was echoed by Rod “Slasher” Breslau, noted esports journalist and one of the industry’s leading voices on issues such as these.
“As is worth repeating: women’s and mixed-gender teams already play in the main esports circuit like in Valorant,” he said on Twitter. “Creating new opportunities grows the esports community and does not diminish the top competition. Those who have issues with this are just showing their own insecurity.”
Of course, there were many pointing out that female teams have not been able to compete with their male counterparts and are destroyed typically by them when they face off in official matches. The proving ground for the two groups are simply not the same however, and more organized play can only be a good thing for trying to level the playing field.