Although the third year of VCT Game Changers is barely reaching the halfway point, it has already created numerous key moments all across the world. Teams emerging to become their respective region’s champions, individuals distinguishing themselves as the next big thing, and storylines beginning to unravel within the general competitive field of teams are all things fans have seen so far.
As the eyes of the GC scene begin to gravitate towards Sao Paulo, Brazil, where this year’s GC Championship will be held, speculation has begun over which teams fans will see in the famous city. Taking that into consideration, BLIX.GG will look at the teams you must keep an eye out for as the road to the 2023 GC Championship begins to materialize. All stats that are cited are from VLR.gg.
Carrying the same torch that Cloud9 White initially lit during their era of dominance, Version1 is on track to becoming North America’s next dynasty in GC. For Series 1, they went a perfect 9-0 against the rest of the field. They held nearly every opponent to single-digit round wins in each of their maps (except for Map 1 in the grand finals against Shopify Rebellion GC).
With the veteran core duo of Melanie “meL’ Capone and Alexis Guarasi leading a bombastic trio in Nicole “Noia” Tierce, Ava” florescent” Eugene, and Sarah Simpson, not to mention the imperative coaching of Loic “effys” Sauvageau, V1 looks like one of the biggest teams to watch out for in GC this year.
Although XSET stumbled at times during their Series 1 run, such as losing to free-agent teams during qualifying, they ultimately continued their rise within NA as another high-quality team. The team’s IGL Bob Tran showed brilliant flashes of versatility by playing seven agents throughout the competition (including open qualifying), which is the most out of anyone in the region.
She’s complimented by Katja “katsumi” Pfahnl, who transitioned to the duelist role after being the main smokes player for C9W. Add that with panday, Melanie “rise” Tetreault, and bunnybee, all of whom continue to improve with each tournament played, you have a squad with the potential to evolve into a formidable squad.
Of course, G2 has to be in a post like this. The reigning world champions return with almost the same lineup that obtained the title in Berlin back in November. The only change is the arrival of Vivian “roxi” Schilling from Guild X following the exit of IGL Julia “Juliano” Kiran, who retired from Valorant to return to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Even with the loss of their IGL, G2 remains set to be a major player in both EMEA GC and the rest of the world. Throughout G2’s history in GC, they have never finished below third in any GC event dating back to late 2021. Therein lies a sense of expectation and inevitability behind G2’s maintained excellence in GC, and they’re likely aware of it also. Besides roxi, G2 boasts an excellent quartet of players in Michaela “mimi” Lintrup, Anastasiya “Glance” Anisimova, Petra Stoker, and Maryam “mary” Maher, the 17-year-old Bahraini player who broke into the scene after playing well in the GC Championship.
EMEA has seen an abundance of teams attempt to usurp the old guard that is G2 and Guild X, the two best in the region, but none has come close to generating as many expectations this year as CBA, which came to be following the disbandment of TENSTAR Nova.
The all-French team consists of past domestic champions and finalists like Lucy “Sliicyy” Tran, Sophia “Kim” Benfakir, and Clara “Cla” Rossi. Rounding out the roster is Laure "Xaline" Mateos, a sentinel player that regularly appeared in EMEA GC tournaments for ChatBanned and Alliance.Coven, and Rryka, a player that will make her debut on the EMEA stage this year.
It can be argued there are more intriguing teams to look at within EMEA, but with a team that boasts past champions and a proven competitive track record, it’s hard to disregard CBA’s potential for the top spot in the region.
Team SMG GC
Southeast Asia saw a massive shift in its hierarchy this year. With the dissolving of Alter Ego Celeste and the release of Sapphire from X10, it allowed other teams to take the top spot in the region, and so far, that leading team is Team SMG. The team reloaded their GC roster for 2023 with the addition of Kelly “shirazi” Jaudian and Alexandria “Alexy” Francisco from Bren Esports Female and Camille “Kamiyu” Enriquez from ZOL Meraki.
Both shirazi and Alexy led their former teams to consecutive Top 4 placements in every Open tournament in 2022. In contrast, Kamiyu helped ZOL finish in third in APAC Elite, beating Bren in the process.
Team SMG is one that feasts on versatility. In one map, you’ll see them field a conventional lineup with Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong working as a duelist, Kamiyu and Alexy switching between initiators and flex, Ryona “Tara” Tan being the controller, and shirazi playing as frag-happy Sentinel. But in another map, they’ll flip everything over its head and put their players in different roles. Unpredictability is the name of the game for SMG, and it would be wise if their opponents learn how to work around it.
Contrary to most of the teams mentioned in this list, who became great right from the outset, Orangutan’s story is one beset with an endless struggle to reach the top but never seemingly able to do so. Formed in May 2022, OGX regularly finished in at least 5-6th for Open 2, 3, and 4. The team would qualify for APAC Elite via winning the Open Overtime event, but they subsequently finished 5-6th again following a lower bracket loss to Bren.
Such showings necessitated a change for the team, and during the offseason, they brought in zini from Bren. She joins the team consisting of Jefferlynne “Japips” Hernandez, Neha “CaspeR” Sottany, and Chloe Wong “Chloettw” Ting Ting. With the quartet together, including capricious, OGX surpassed their previous benchmark by finishing second in the 2023 Open 1 tournament, losing to SMG 3-0 in the finals.
Despite OGX changing the duelist role with the addition of Anrionel “Twirly” Cajanding for Mary Grace “capriciouS” Sabado, they remain on top of their game in APAC and are amidst a state they had not seen before. Hopefully, such a form can remain for the rest of the year.
Team Liquid Brazil
Just like V1 and G2, Team Liquid Brazil leads the way when it comes to GC in Brazil. Despite losing three of their original members during the offseason, TL did not encounter any issue reloading for 2023 as they added Vitoria “bizerra” Vieira, Letícia “Joojina” Paiva, and Isabeli “isaa” Esser from TBK Esports and Gamelanders Purple; the team stayed in pole position with the year approaching the halfway point.
In 2023, for GC, TL are 36-5 overall against the rest of the region. Taking series into account, they are a perfect 16-0 for Series 1 and its qualifying tournaments. Four of the five map losses came at the hands of LOUD GC, whereas the other happened in the first map of the season to “ferinhas do teclados,” which would ultimately become w7m esports Female.
Team Liquid Brazil remains led by their initiator Natália “daiki” Vilela and Paula “bstrdd” Naguil, who led Series 1 in rating, ACS, K:D ratio, ADR, and KPR as the duelist, and should they, in addition to the rest of the squad, maintain their level throughout the year, expect them to engineer a deep run in home soil for this year’s GC Championship.
In watching LOUD formally enter the GC with their signing of free agent team “jelly e amigas,” it’s easy to forget that this squad was once known as Before, where it mostly roamed near the top of Brazilian women’s Valorant. That squad placed Top 3 in both Series 1 and 2 in Brazil for the 2022 season. Four members from that lineup, Julia “jelly” Iris, Taynah “tayhuhu” Yukimi, Julia “Krysme” Maria, and Leticia “let” Dias, parted ways from the org and stuck together as a free agent roster, whose status stayed that way until Series 1, where LOUD came calling.
Although the nexus of the team had to undergo numerous changes throughout the past half year, in addition to bringing in Giulia "lissa" Lissa as their new smokes player, they remained one of Brazil’s finest GC teams around, finishing runners-up in two of the three qualifiers before Series 1. With the top fragging ability of jelly and the help of let, krysme, and tayhuhu, LOUD continues residing at the apex of Brazil GC.
The LOUD men’s Valorant roster started as a free-agent stack named “Pancada e amigos.” That team ended up winning the world championship. Who’s to say history is not able to repeat itself?
Staying true to the name, KRÜ Blaze is blazing their competition as far as LATAM is concerned in 2023. Continuing their domestic form from last year, the Argentina-based team is yet to drop a map in GC. With a round margin of +82 (130 won, 48 lost) and a 10-0 record to their name, they look primed to repeat as LATAM champions at the end of this year.
And how could they not when retaining their key players from last year in Keila “kalita” Nava, Romina “romi” Álvarez, and Constanza “conir” Reyes? The same question can be asked about KRU when they picked up Lorena Micaela “micaela” Ferreyra, who is regarded as one of the best duelists in the region, from 9z Team G, and Luisa “shyz” Minarelli from TBK Esports GC.
KRU remains the class of GC in LATAM, and unless someone else grows to overtake them later on in the season, they look to win the region and return to the GC Championship in Sao Paulo.
While East Asia has not yet seen GC commence, it does serve as the home of one of the world’s most intriguing GC teams: DRX Changers. Capitalizing on the popularity of Valorant in Japan, DRX announced the start of their GC roster in the country late last year during a fan event.
Starting with Yume “Dori” Suzuki as the founding member, DRX C eventually added Jeong “SeoeuN” Seo-eun and Won “Healing” Yoo-jin to the roster from Spear Gaming Female, with the former serving as controller and the latter the IGL. The team then signed Ayami “Aika” Matsui from FENNEL Female as the sentinel and Ye “Yue” Ling-Juan from Chinese team Oxyg3niOus as the duelist. Rounding out the roster is Kang “YuRiHaNa” Jin-joo, who last played for Sengoku Gaming GC in the summer of 2022, and juri, the former Initiator for Northeption Female last year.
Although DRX C played four series so far this year (all came during Japan Challengers qualifying), each of their matches was close from wire to wire, with six of the ten maps played finishing with a score of at least 13-10. Despite winning just one series (albeit via forfeit), by playing against various men’s rosters, DRX C is accruing crucial experience ahead of the start of GC in Japan.