2021 is a big year for competitive Valorant, with developer Riot kicking off an ambitious, yearlong esports circuit called the Valorant Champions Tour. But the company is also looking to make the scene more diverse with a separate competition called VCT Game Changers, which it says will “create competitive opportunities for women and marginalized genders within Valorant.”
The program will include a series of “top tier” competitions throughout 2021, but perhaps more important is an academy series designed to foster new talent. Here’s how Riot describes it:
The VCT Game Changers Academy program will host monthly tournaments, giving players even more opportunities to compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level. Academy events will be organized in partnership with GALORANTs, one of the largest communities within Valorant. GALORANTs previously helped organize the “For the Women Summer Showdown” tournament in September 2020. Both the VCT Game Changers Series and Academy will help build the next generation of leaders who aspire to succeed with the competitive Valorant community.
Women-centric esports competitions aren’t a new phenomenon, as the scene is still largely male-dominated across the biggest games, whether it’s League of Legends, Overwatch, or Fortnite. But as a relatively new game, having launched last year, Valorant is in a potentially good place to cultivate a more diverse player base. In fact, there are already positive signs; when esports organization Evil Geniuses entered the professional Valorant scene, it did so with a mixed-gender roster.
“Competing in games as a woman can be a daunting task, oftentimes resulting in a very real competitive disadvantage,” Valorant executive producer Anna Donlon said in a statement. “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.”