The PAX AUS ESL Arena was home to the VALORANT Champions Tour Game Changers showmatch for Oceania in 2023, with the best of three series played on the morning of October 8th.
Participants in Game Changers are exclusively women and those of marginalised genders, with the project granting the opportunity for all to compete at a higher level. Internationally, this is also inclusive of the broadcast talent, with Gem and Profound Rice making their live casting debuts assisted by the more experienced talent in Zenox and ElfishGuy.
VCT GC teams are usually competing for a spot in the Brazil finals later this year, but unfortunately, in the case of Oceania, it was just a show match this time around.
Riot Games assembled teams with prominent content creators and pro players for the epic series. Phos, gtrboy34, Shady, daddies girl, and Emi (piplupduck in game) made up the Blossom Bullets. Lanie, Skiato, TaylorMorgan, rainbowbunny, and TRASH (taylor swift in game) were Lethal Lotus.
Map one saw the teams battle it out on Breeze, with LL taking the offense for the first half. The score was somewhat even until LL tipped the game in their favour thanks to TRASH’s Sage and Skiato’s Reyna picking up the pieces in rounds when it mattered the most.
The half wrapped up with BB’s Shady on Raze managing to secure a double kill between a rocket and a clean shot, bringing the scoreline to 4-8.
As the match continued, it was a bit of a snowball in favour of LL as they won every match including their bonus round for a straight shot to 4-12. While Emi’s Yoru dropped a three-man killstreak in the following round, it wasn’t enough to salvage the map as LL took the win and the map.
Next up was Haven, and BB was back with a vengeance as they started on the offense of Haven. With Emi locking down the map with Killjoy, they were able to take the site over and over again, wrapping up the half 10-2 in their favour with high hopes for a third map.
Now on the offense of their own, LL was keen on the comeback—and they showed up when it counted, taking the match into overtime.
With an attack-favoured map, there was a bit of back and forth before Lethal Lotus snagged a round on defense and sprung forward to take the map, and with it, the series.
ANZ Twitch ambassador TRASH told Snowball Esports how “pumped” they were about the experience: “This is my first time playing VALORANT on a stage competitively and it’s very different, but there’s such good vibes and I really want to do it again.
“I watch a lot of VALORANT on stream so it was awesome being on that side—being like TenZ or like Sentinels, 100 Thieves, stuff like that,” they said. “It was really cool.”
“The [first half of the second map] was a rough one,” they reflected on the series. “We were 2-10…but if it wasn’t a won round, we still got good clutches, good kills and stuff like that. Just keeping that momentum up—no negativity—really helped us in the end.”
“On the attacking side, we were just killing it. Good communication, good plays as well so it was pretty sick.”
Regarding Game Changers as a whole, TRASH admitted they “didn’t know was Game Changers was” before they were invited to the event.
“They were like, Google it, see what it’s about,” they explained, “Because Riot said it was an all-female tournament at first. But because I’m non-binary I was like, ‘Should I? Can I still participate?’ And they said ‘Yeah, of course’, so they got me in. It was cool that they got to do this and I really want to watch more.”
“I feel very proud. There’s not a lot of us. Asian, non-binary, Vietnamese—being able to represent that to the crowd means a lot to me.”TRASH on their experience with VCT Game Changers
“Growing up, you don’t see a lot of Asian representation so I’m very proud of myself that I got to go on stage, meet everybody and have fun.”
Game Changers across all titles is something valuable to women and those of marginalised genders as an opportunity to feel seen and represented in a scene where it’s otherwise uncommon.
Hopefully, as the scene continues to mature, we’ll see some Oceanic representation in the APAC VCT GC next year.
Want another awesome story about representation in gaming? Check out our piece on Team Bliss’ Girls in Gaming initiative.