Equality, First Strike and the Future

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Very few games are announced with a similar degree of hype as what Valorant received. Riot’s premier 5v5 tactical shooter was first unveiled in March 2020, being teased previously beforehand as Project A, and now today it stands as not only one of the largest shooters out there, but also as a first-class esports title. Ever since Valorant released we’ve seen a whole bunch of tournaments organised, from third-party events all the way to the First Strike series hosted by Riot themselves.

Unlike a lot of esports titles out there, Valorant from the get-go has strived to bridge the gap of equality, currently plaguing many other esports scenes. Whilst progress is slowly happening, and we are seeing more and more women enter the Valorant competitive world, Riot has its sights set on the future, with the hopes of building a much more equal esports scene. To discuss the matter, we recently had the opportunity to speak with Zanne Wong, the Brand and Marketing Manager for Valorant EU, where we talked about the gender disparity, the current First Strike event, the upcoming Champions Tour, and what the future holds.


Gamereactor: So, Zanne, as a woman, how are you working to ensure competitive Valorant breaks the mold that most esports scenes fall under regarding poorly weighted gender representation?

Wong: Ultimately, the goal, and it is quite a personal matter to me as well as I’m part of that community, is to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. And, by everyone I mean regardless of gender, and by everyone, I also mean, not just players and teams, but also the casters, the people behind the scenes, everyone who makes this community what it is. And, it’s important for us that there is representation, and I’m really excited to see there already is some, myself included I guess. It’s really exciting and I hope that it becomes part of the norm in the future, but really the goal is just to make sure it’s a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

Gamereactor: We’re seeing a growing number of female rosters joining competitive Valorant circuits, for example, Cloud9 White. How do you and the team at Riot plan on ensuring more women join professional Valorant down the line?

Wong: We have to listen to what the community wants. If the natural progression is somehow that we think of a more co-ed version of the league, or a women’s only league, that’s something that we will do based on what we understand from the community. This year really is about learning and understanding. I’m really excited to see the representation, I’m excited to see how First Strike is, I’m also excited to see how the 2021 circuit looks. I think it’s really just about learning and listening right now, and reacting and doing what we feel is best for the community.

Gamereactor: The First Strike Finals are just around the…

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