Games publisher Riot Games has created a number of new paths for people across Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) to become VALORANT professional players after introducing a number of changes to its VALORANT Game Changers EMEA circuit for 2023.

Game Changers is an initiative by Riot Games, designed to strengthen the wider esports ecosystem for women and other gender minorities. The new structure for the circuit will be divided into four tiers. Tier one will consist of VCT Game Changers EMEA: Academy and the newly-created VCT Game Changers EMEA: Emergents.

The Emergents programme aims to create a competitive hub via a Discord channel, whilst the Academy places more of a focus on education, giving the Game Changers community ‘a chance to learn more about careers within the VALORANT ecosystem’.

This first tier was a main topic of conversation during Esports Insider’s recent podcast, ESI For All, where EDI and Community Executive Riley Soley chatted with Ashley Washington, Product Lead for Game Changers EMEA at Riot Games about the Game Changers Championship.

In the discussion, Washington began by discussing the structure of VALORANT Game Changers in the EMEA Region. She said: “So it’s a basic tournament circuit that goes in three series and lasts around a week at a time, with a qualifier and a top 32 that go to the main event. 

“It takes place three times a year. But now, for the first time ever, it has a global championship that will allow the winners of each region of Game Changers to come together and compete against one another for the World Championship title – this is actually a new structure.

“It is super exciting because we sent two amazing teams [from EMEA], and I’m really looking forward to seeing how we stack up against other regions.”

The conversation soon turned towards the ways in which Game Changers is helping to develop the VALORANT scene by fostering female and gender minority talent. 

Washington shared her view that the initiative is presenting a new opportunity for those who are interested and able to engage within the space – something that has subsequently led to an increase in participation.

She continued: “I feel like the interest was always there. I think that what we’re now seeing is more of the trust to commit to a space that offers the opportunity for people who are interested to be able to engage the women of the space.

“So I would say that in the two years that Game Changers has existed, we’ve definitely seen an increase in participation. This year, for example, in our most recent series we actually maxed out our sign ups. 

“The format accommodates 128 teams. At the time of closure for sign ups, we had 130 teams. This is up from 91 teams in the series before it, which is incredible. 

“Ultimately, we lost a few teams by the time the series started, but we were still at 126 teams. This puts us up to more than 600 women playing in one series and, for me, that has been incredible. It’s been a wonderful confirmation of what we’ve already known – that there are plenty of women out here ready to do this thing. 

“It also shows that Game Changers is heading in the right direction. It’s getting closer to being a space where all women who are interested know that they can go to Game Changers and get their foot in the door. They have the opportunity to compete and experience the ecosystem, hopefully to a point where they feel comfortable being in the rest of the ecosystem as well.”

Ashley Washington: VALORANT Game Changers is truly heading ‘in the right direction’