With the qualifying portion of the 2023 VCT North America Game Changers Series 1 competition wrapped up, it’s time to highlight the best players within the game and what each individual did with their respective teams.
With an eye towards the start of Series 1, here are the three best players in each role during qualifying. Rankings and statistics described below are all cited from VLR.gg.
With a few days left before the start of the qualifers, Evil Geniuses brought in keenc as their newest duelist; following the player’s previous stint with Complexity GX3. keenc was seen as a player who can stand toe-to-toe with the region’s best duelists in Game Changers, and by the end of the first qualifier, they seem to fit that billing. After helping EG finish with an 8-1 record, they placed first overall in rating (1.76), ACS (375.8), K:D ratio (2.30), and KPR (1.30).
Ava "florescent" Eugene
Another day, another tournament, another textbook showing by Version1’s duelist Ava "florescent" Eugene. After standing out as a promising talent in 2022, her great form in 2023 has helped her to emerge as a bonafide star. In each of Version1’s four series during the qualifiers, florescent did not fall below a 1.30 rating. This was accompanied by a second best overall ranking in rating, ACS, K:D ratio, and KPR. After helping Misfits Black reach third place in 2022 Series 3, florescent looks poised to surpass her previous mark with a new cast of players.
Karnthida "dodonut" Chaisrakeo
Despite the adversity surrounding the CLG Red roster on account of their organization folding, they still performed at their best to reach the main event of Series 1. Chief among those responsible is their duelist Karnthida "dodonut" Chaisrakeo, who finished third overall in the aforementioned statistical categories involving her role. The faith is still alive and well for this particular player and her team, even after their source of support has withered away.
Lorrian "Lorri" Elad
What’s a piece about NA GC that doesn’t mention its best team at the moment? Shopify Rebellion GC’s initiator Lorrian "Lorri" Elad helped her team breeze past qualifying without a semblance of worry in their veins. As a result of her bolstering play, Lorri was among the best performing initiators, ranking fourth overall in rating (1.41). Moreover, she was top two in terms of being the highest-rated KAY/O and Skye players in the region.
Katherine "Karra'' Lee
Another player that enjoyed a fantastic qualifying window is Katherine "Karra'' Lee of Complexity GX3. The 17-year-old flex/initiator showcased her versatility in the server by finishing as the highest-rated player in three agents (Astra, Breach, and Skye) while also placing sixth in the overall rating department (1.40) with a minimum of 50 rounds considered. Her highlights include a 1.54 rating, 22/12/7 KDA, and 285 ACS showing against Team Karma in Haven that sealed GX3’s place in the main event.
The first person who helped reload EG’s new roster for 2023 was PowerPixele, another ex-Complexity player who has since found their groove with their new team. With a performance that amounted to a seventh-best overall rating (1.38), they helped EG qualify with a nearly spotless 8-1 record, prompting people to start looking at the lineup as a viable contender for the domestic title.
Jennifer "refinnej" Le
FaZe Clan GC’s sentinel Jennifer "refinnej" Le certainly held her own to help the team qualify to its first ever GC main event. Even after undergoing an appendectomy and experiencing its after-effects throughout the remainder of qualifying, refinnej persevered by playing at her best with Killjoy. Such brilliant diligence culminated into a 21/6/1 KDA and 1.61 rating against Akumu in Ascent to send FaZe to the main event, bringing an end to what might be the greatest display of endurance in NA GC history.
Marceline "Karie" Carson
The qualifying phase of Series 1, besides marking the debut of orgs entering the scene, also serves as the stage for independent lineups to make a name for themselves against the region’s best. One such teams that stood out was noot noot, which featured sentinel Marceline “karie” Carson. While the team ultimately fell short of reaching the main event, karie shone as one of the best players in her role in qualifying. With her Killjoy on hand, karie put up a 245.1 ACS, 1.46 K:D ratio, and 166.7 ADR, all of which rank among the highest among Sentinels.
Nicole "Noia" Tierce
Nicole "Noia" Tierce transitioned to the Sentinel role after primarily playing as Chamber for XSET Purple near the end of the 2022 season, and although she underwent the typical struggles of being in a new role, she was fully settled in by the time qualifying rolled around. Nothing best exemplifies her comfort in the new role than her individual rating on Killjoy, which is the best among all players who used the agent in the event (1.36). Furthermore, among Sentinels, she was first in rating (1.34) and K:D ratio (1.73).
Melanie "meL" Capone
The troubles of transitioning to a new role didn’t faze V1’s IGL, it seems, what with how she played in qualifying. Truly, Melanie "meL" Capone played a major role in directing her team to qualification in her util-heavy position, which starkly contrasted her previous Chamber-centric days with Cloud9 White. Regardless, in enhancing the play of her teammates like florescent and sarah, meL, through her controller capabilities, is showing once again that she’s one of the best players in NA today.
Emily "mle" Peters
The team formerly known as CLG Red’s Emily "mle" Peters played well beyond her role in qualifying as her fragging rivaled the numbers of other squads’ offensive players. At the end of qualifying, her individual play on Omen and Astria amounted to a 1.29 rating, 239.1 ACS, 1.52 K:D ratio, 0.87 KPR, and 85% KAST, all of which tops the rankings for all controllers. This proves, once and for all, that if you’re a controller who only has the letters “m”, “l”, and “e” in their tag, good things are bound to happen.
Vannesa "panini" Emory
With all the attention surrounding SR and their current top form in GC, it’s easy to forget they once had Vannesa "panini" Emory as their controller, who was with the team up until early 2022. From there, she hopped around two teams before signing with FaZe Clan GC. And with FaZe, she continues to play well by finishing qualifying with a 1.31 rating, 239.9 ACS, and 1.39 K:D ratio on Omen, Viper, Brimstone and Viper, being one of highest fraggers in the position.
Despite not being expected to go far in qualifying prior to the tournament, Velaris turned out to be one of the best free agent teams in NA. They would eventually go down to FaZe GC in the lower bracket, but even so, one of their players emerged as one of the best in their roles against the rest of the greater competition: StarBound. The 21-year-old finished with a 1.31 rating, 284.5 ACS, and 182.3 ADR, all of which ranked Top 10 overall among duelists. Among orgless duelists specifically, they rank at the top without question.
Hannah "hannah" Reyes
Although Team Karma failed to qualify for Series 1, consideration must be given to one of its players — Hannah "hannah" Reyes, for doing well consistently through her individual play. The former Gen.G Black player recorded a 1.15 rating off a 232.5 ACS with TK on Cypher, Killjoy, Chamber, and Viper. Additionally, with Cypher, she finished as the highest-ranked player on the agent.