Valorant may be taking women’s esports to the next level.
Riot Games has announced that an all-women spin-off of the Valorant Champions Tour, VCT Game Changers, is in the works. This circuit will likely produce some of the largest women’s esports competitions seen to date.
“Today we are excited to introduce the VCT Game Changers program. This is an initiative designed to provide experience and a spotlight to elevate the women in the Valorant competitive community. Competing in games as a woman can be a daunting task, oftentimes resulting in a very real competitive disadvantage, and while we’re taking steps to address this in-game, we think there’s some other really cool stuff we can take from esports,” Valorant executive producer Anna Donlon said in the reveal.
Donlon discussed that the inspiration for VCT Game Changers came from the FTW Summer Showdown, an all-women’s tournament that was a part of the Ignition Series. The positive response to the event inspired Riot to take broader action in regards to building up women’s esports within Valorant.
VCT Game Changers will include two circuits in the Game Changers Series and Game Changers Academy. The Game Changer Series will be a circuit of larger events, while Game Changers Academy will be built around weekly and monthly tournaments in collaboration with Galorants.
VCT Game Changers will kick off in March.
Depending on the game, women ultimately have had little to no representation in most major esports titles. There have been a few women who have played on top teams in a mixed-gender team setting including Rainbow 6’s Lauren “Goddess” Williams and Overwatch’s Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim. There are also a handful of credentialed women and girls in solo esports such as Hearthstone and fighting games. But many top esports are yet to see a woman compete on a larger stage.
The game with the most robust women’s scene is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which has a number of notable teams in North America and Europe. There are a variety of dedicated women-only tournaments, but all-female teams haven’t found much success against men’s teams in regional leagues and qualifiers. A big part of that is instability stemming from limited competitive opportunities and lacking organizational support.
An official Valorant circuit for women will likely help remedy those issues to some degree. Valorant has already seen a number of top organizations sign women to play on their teams, including the mixed-gender Evil Geniuses roster and the all-women Cloud9 White. A number of notable women’s CSGO teams have also transitioned to Valorant.
Expect more women to start climbing the ladder and new talent to emerge over the coming months.