The 2023 VCT North American Game Changers season kicked off with the main event of Series 1 and— after four days of competition— it was Version1 who came out on top, defeating Shopify Rebellion GC 3-0 in the grand finals. Even after the legendary Cloud9 White dissolved following the 2022 season, some of its remnants continue to uphold their place at the top of NA in GC with Melanie "meL" Capone and Alexis "alexis" Guarasi capturing their seventh consecutive title.
Meanwhile, the rest of V1, Nicole “Noia” Tierce, Ava “florescent” Eugene, and Sarah “sarahcat” Simpson obtain their first GC title in each of their respective careers.
On top of focusing on the champions, Series 1 featured a range of notable performances by the eight competing teams. From the emergence of young talent, to the execution of memorable plays, here are the five biggest takeaways from the 2023 VCT NA Game Changers Series 1 main event.
All stats cited are from VLR.gg.
V1 is Truly Tier One
Just looking at Version1’s record throughout the Series 1 Main Event provides a clear indication as to how dominant they played against the rest of the competition. In all of their matches, V1 went 9-0, absolutely blanking their opponents which included SR (twice), FaZe Clan GC, and Complexity GX3. Each of their opponents had a lineup that was seen as a viable contender for the top spot, but that ultimately did not matter when they faced V1.
And how could they defeat V1 when the team is loaded with a cast of incredible players and an experienced coach in Loic "effys" Sauvageau? Well, as Series 1 showed, they could not.
The team didn’t allow any of their opponents reach double digits on any map, save for the 13-10 win over SR in Map 1 of the grand finals. That preceded V1’s domination in Icebox where they seemingly had SR in the palm of their hands. It was a fitting microcosm of V1’s performance in Series 1.
The new breed takes center stage
While Series 1 saw a good chunk of familiar names return to the highest level of NA GC, this event also marked the emergence of new players looking to make a name for themselves in 2023.
This includes names like keenc of Evil Geniuses GC, who also distinguished themselves in open qualifying, Katherine "Karra" Lee of Complexity GX3, the 17-year-old who appeared in Series 3 of 2022 with the same org, and florescent of V1, who took the next step by becoming a champion after debuting last year and shining as one of the best players in Series 1.
Florescent and keenc finished as one of the ten highest ranking players in the main event of Series 1. For karra, she helped CoL GX3 finish in 5-6th once again as the second initiator/flex player.
With these players gaining further experience in these events, not to mention the rest that are lurking behind with equal hunger, the future is certainly bright for the region in GC.
Remember to never lose faith (Moist Moguls RED)
It would be remiss of me to talk about Series 1 without including Moist Moguls RED and the journey they took throughout the tournament — not just in the main event. This team was formerly known as CLG Red in the leadup to Series 1 qualifying, but with CLG dissolving its esports division in early April, that left the GC squad without a sponsor with less than five days before the start of the main event.
Refusing to be dissuaded by the end of the CLG Red brand, Emily "mle" Peters approached Ludwig Ahgren, the co-owner of Moist Esports and the man responsible for the creation of Moist Moguls roster in the 2023 Valorant Challengers: North America season, to sponsor the team for the upcoming GC tournament to which he accepted.
Not only that, the team was left without a coach. With the exit of shinobi, they transitioned niko, their assistant coach, to the main job immediately. It was so quick, niko realized his new role during his flight to the team’s bootcamp in Los Angeles for the main event.
As if these challenges weren’t enough, as the squad continued their Series 1 run, they had to search for a new place to play. Due to the internet within the CLG headquarters, where they were permitted to compete at that point, was suddenly cut off a few hours before their series against XSET was scheduled to commence. This incident led to Team Liquid lending their facility to the team for the remainder of their run in Series 1.
Despite all of these events, which would have sent any team into a downward spiral and an early exit from the tournament, Most Moguls RED finished in fourth place, defeating the likes of FaZe Clan and Evil Geniuses to make it possible.
In the real world, this should not have happened. But when one adds a team that, quite possibly, showed the greatest form of endurance in pro Valorant history into the equation, some recognition must be given to Moist Moguls RED. They did something that few could ever replicate in similar circumstances and it is such that will not be forgotten any time soon.
mle's ace clutch
It would also be remiss not to include the undisputed highlight of Series 1— mle’s ace clutch against EG in Map 3 of the lower bracket quarterfinals.
It was a play that sent shockwaves throughout the Valorant community (not just GC) because of its improbability and world-class use of awareness.
In a do or die round, where a loss for MxM RED meant elimination from the tournament outright, mle was thrust into a 1v4 situation following a failed split push into B site. With the clock winding down to 10 seconds, she snatched a kill on Melisa "Theia" Mundorff to teleport to A without hesitation, whose ultimate graphic popped up as soon as she trimmed the deficit to 1v3.
She managed to plant the spike with a second to spare and as soon as she did, she picked off Juliana "showliana" Maransaldi to retreat to A back and wait for the remainder of EG to attempt to retake the site. With a quick peek towards the higher ground, mle headshotted keenc to force the 1v1 between herself and PowerPixele.
This is when the greatest play in GC history was finalized as mle, the same person who approached Ludwig to sponsor the team prior to Series 1, headshotted PowerPixele to extend Map 3 to overtime and keep MxM RED’s Series 1 run alive. As a result of mle’s monumental clutch, MxM RED would go on to defeat EG 14-12 to advance to the lower bracket semis against XSET.
It’s a play that epitomizes the very name of the circuit it’s housed under. It is ridiculous, fantastic, improbable, legendary, and everything else that relates to those words. (I previously referred to this play as potentially being one of the greatest in NA GC history so I would like to provide a correction: this is one of the greatest plays in Valorant history.)
The stars aligned in this particular fashion to create this particular play which was made at the hands of that particular person and send it to immortalization. It was that good.
The MVP: Ava "florescent" Eugene
Version1’s domination in Series 1 wouldn’t have been possible if not for the contribution of florescent. The 16-year-old duelist was always regarded as an incredible talent within NA who could take a team to another level with her skill alone. But with the players of V1 supporting her, who possess an endless amount experience in GC, she essentially went into overdrive.
florescent’s relentless aggression and adept accuracy turned her from an already imposing duelist, into a demi-god in the server. Even when it looked as though she would crash and burn off a risky entry, with a few clicks of the mouse and multiple foes subsequently lying dead on the ground, she reminds us time and time again how trivial such concerns are.
For the main event of Series 1, florescent finished first overall in:
- Rating (1.57)
- ACS (334.7)
- K:D Ratio (1.93)
- ADR (216.2)
- KPR (1.21)
- FKPR (0.29)
- Total Kills (195)
The time for anticipation is over. Florescent is finally here.