Shopify Rebellion emerged triumphant as the crowned champions of the VCT Game Changers 2023, stunning the local crowd in São Paulo, Brazil, with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Team Liquid Brazil yesterday. The team’s recent formation led to a remarkable journey through the upper bracket, with rising star Ava “florescent” Eugene playing a pivotal role in their success. However, their ultimate triumph ignited a significant debate on the meaning of gender equality, a prevailing theme in Riot’s esteemed tournament.
In a dominating display, Shopify Rebellion took down formidable opponents like Chao Hui EDG, BBL Queen, and G2 Gozen en route to the grand finals against the Brazilian powerhouse. The championship was sealed with florescent achieving a new high score, boasting the highest ACS and total kills in a single map. Her outstanding performance also shattered records, surpassing Evil Geniuses’ Max “Demon1” Mazanov’s previous mark with a remarkable 112 total kills in an international match.
However, the celebratory atmosphere surrounding Shopify Rebellion’s victory was marred by a heated debate within the Valorant community. Social media platforms became a battleground for differing opinions on whether florescent, the sole transgender player on the team, and the entire Rebellion squad deserved the trophy. The contentious issue arose due to their victory against the all-female Team Liquid, with some arguing that allowing florescent to compete against women provided an unfair advantage.
These derogatory comments extended to other teams with transgender players, including Evil Geniuses GC. Despite this, Rebellion’s tournament-winning status drew more negative attention than its counterparts.
Nevertheless, many fans defended Rebellion’s victory and florescent’s MVP title in the tournament. They argued that the rights of women and marginalized groups were protected by Riot’s regulations within the Game Changers competition, and therefore, there was nothing wrong with transgender individuals participating in the tournament.
In one of Riot’s statements regarding VCT Game Changers, the game publisher mentioned, “VCT Game Changers supplement the competitive season by creating new opportunities and exposure for women and other marginalized genders within VALORANT esports. The competitive VALORANT community is both diverse and incredibly global, and our esport should reflect that. Through Game Changers, we hope to build towards a VALORANT Champions Tour that is more inclusive and representative of our community.”
Despite predictions of negative attention in the upcoming VCT Game Changers season, especially from fans opposing the inclusion of specific gender groups, Riot’s commitment to fostering inclusivity in esports remains steadfast.