The first major female Valorant tournament in Oceania, the Empress League, has seen a potential new contender emerge in Carnegie. Headed up by CS:GO veteran Jessica “ARTeMis” Majrouh, the team is looking to push forward in the scene — no matter the title.
There’s been a distinct rise in female-only competition with the release of Valorant. While it has always existed before now — between GirlGamer, DreamHack Invitationals, and more — Riot’s title has seen more teams come to the forefront.
Whether it’s just a coincidence of investment, or a legitimate rise, remains to be seen. But with the likes of Cloud9 White and XSET jumping on board in Valorant and CS:GO respectively, as well as successful events like the FTW Summer Showdown, it feels like more eyes have been put on female esports than ever before.
This makes the Empress League an extra special event for Oceania. It featured many of the top female players across the region, including CS:GO veterans and rising stars with no background whatsoever.
It wasn’t some low-staked, appearances-only event too. Otherwise, competitors like Jessica “ARTeMis” Majrouh likely wouldn’t have jumped onboard. The Carnage CS:GO star headed up the “Carnegie” squad that ended up taking the lion’s share of the prize pool, beating Clarity 2-0 in the final.
“Coming into Valorant, we only started to take it seriously when the Empress tournament was announced. I knew Nicole was trying to get more people on board to make it a consistent thing,” she told Snowball.
“Our biggest goal was to win it. We did play other tournaments, but we didn’t take it as seriously as the Empress tournament. Winning it was satisfactory, given we were getting absolutely smashed early in the game.”
Ultimately, the final did come down to experience. Majrouh has travelled the world for CS:GO, including attending GirlGamer and WESG and playing against the likes of INTZ and Dignitas. Those high-stakes matches really came to the forefront when Carnegie looked down and out.
While they got off to a slow 2-8 start on Haven, Carnegie clawed back a huge comeback on defense — Artemis herself put together a huge clutch in the 22nd round to keep the map alive — to take the map in overtime. On Bind, there was nothing left in the tank for Clarity, as Carnegie won 13-6 to secure the title.
“It’s all about experience and staying focused. Most of us come from a competitive background, so we knew how to adapt and figure things out, but also a lot of the nerves had started to settle in. Initially we were very tense at the start, so once we started to calm down that’s when we started to bring things back.”
Artemis wasn’t the only star on that Carnegie squad. Between the five of them, there’s plenty of international experience and talent. Such a tournament helped highlight those stars, who don’t get the limelight as often as their male counterparts.
“The obvious answer would be Emi. She’s already Radiant and has put the time into the game. She has really good mechanics, and she showed that on duelists. The most impactful player though, helping Emi get those kills, is Mish — she’s a very underrated player.”
While the Empress League Valorant tournament was a nice taster of what’s potentially on the way for female esports in Oceania, Artemis is torn. She’s been playing CS:GO for over a decade, competing at the top level since 2014. It’s her one true gaming love. However, she also wants to see where the opportunities lay.
“I would like to have a flex roster [between CS:GO and Valorant], but I’m not too sure yet. CS:GO is still big internationally, but domestically, it doesn’t have the support. It’s really hard to tell which game is going to be good for us. I’ll always love CS:GO — it’ll forever be my number one pick — but if Valorant is going to be more consistent locally, we might fully transition.”
“Valorant has aspects of CS:GO, but it has a lower skill ceiling. There’s a lot of aggravating factors where you can’t just do anything about it. Valorant requires a bit more teamwork, but in terms of mechanics, CS:GO takes the cake.”
It then begs the question, will investment come to Oceania? It’s been a long time coming for the female esports pros, who have been left in the lurch the hardest. However, the resources might still be a while away, even if the talent is abundantly here.
“It’s hard to say because America gets a lot of funding and they have a lot of resources. The Cloud9 White team already had a coach and salaries, and the game is a lot bigger over there. We have the skillset to have that in Australia, but we need the resources.”
The next chapter— ARTeMis (@ARTeMis_CSGO) December 2, 2020
Artemis will be riding out the wave with Empress, joining the organisation to help find new female esports talent across the region and compete. After being involved in the scene for a decade, Artemis wants to help bring new blood up to the top, and hopefully crack that barrier.
“I know Nicole, and she’s really good at what she does. With her resources, we can actually get the necessary things to achieve what we want. Nicole wants to give back to the community, so she’s doing it not just because she wants the best team, but she wants to pay back the people who have done good in this scene.”