From CS:GO to VALORANT, how the female Esports scene has changed 

From CS:GO to VALORANT, how the female Esports scene has changed 

Julia ‘juliano’ Kiran talks about the reality behind the VALORANT women’s circuits through her decades of experience on CS:GO.

In an esports landscape as young as that of VALORANT, G2 have triumphed over the competition by assembling a team of veteran gamers starting with Julia “juliano” Kiran, a former Counter Strike: Global Offensive player. Juliano has more than ten years of career and has the same number of titles won on CS:GO, and starting from 2021 she has shifted her ambitions of victory to VALORANT by joining the G2 Gozen roster. 

The VALORANT team was in Milan for the presentation of Lenovo’s new line of PCs, the Legion 7i series, which will provide the three-time European champions with cutting-edge technology to enhance their performance. During the Empower Your Valour event, we had the opportunity to speak with Juliano about the changes in the esports scene towards all-female teams.  

In the course of your career, have you noticed a change in the way organizations and the Esports public approach women-only teams? 

Yes the situation has improved, in my opinion. In the beginning there was a lot of hatred, I wouldn’t say there’s no hatred now, because there is, but it seems to me that tournament organizers are very strict when it comes to deleting unpleasant comments, they make sure that certain words are not visible or that the comments are taken into consideration and then deleted. And I think that’s really good, and I’ve also noticed that the spectator rate for all the women’s tournaments has really increased.

Do you see a change between CS:GO’s competitive scene and VALORANT’s? 

Yes, it seems to me that VALORANT is a more supportive community.

And do you think this is also due to the fact that Riot created the VALORANT Game Changers from the very beginning of the game’s competitive scene?

Yes, definitely. I think the reason the women’s circuit was accepted is because it was there from the beginning. It was part of the game right from the start, and it wasn’t added later as if you needed to push for it. 

If you had to find the root of the reason for the hatred and misunderstandings that exist towards women’s tournaments in the esports community, what would it be?

I think it stems a lot from jealousy, because I would say that most of the people who comment on certain things are mostly men, boys, or whatever you want to call them. And I think it’s mainly due to the fact that they think everything it’s handed to us for free, which we don’t. I mean, I’ve worked my ass off every single year since I was a kid to get good at it. So yes, I think the misunderstanding is in why we have events like Game Changers to promote women in the industry. These events are not created to separate us from everyone and give us a free ride to the top! 

Milano, Lenovo Legion Event Milan. Photo credit Cristian Castelnuovo

How much time must pass before this type of tournament becomes obsolete and unnecessary?

I always wanted it to be earlier than it has. Back in the days of Counter Strike we tried to form mixed teams, but it was never successful and was never supported by the organizations properly. So I hope that within 10 years, or even sooner, the mentality towards women will change, because that’s where we will start to see changes. 

One comment Carlos made about the G2 Gozen was that for him you are not the ‘female VALORANT team, only our VALORANT team’. Team, did you see this change between G2 and your previous organization in how you as a player and as a person were approached, because of your gender?

I would say that the treatment we receive from the team structure is very different. We’ve always felt welcome wherever we’ve been, but in the G2s I’ve noticed a big difference from what we had before in structure, management and all the benefits we get from bootcamping, right down to the professional help with our health. We are treated like we are the strongest team and that is really great. We never had the resources that G2 gave us to train and do things like a real professional team. We were always good on our own, we had to take care of everything.

Following this statement, the G2 Head of Office, Jacobo Ramos González, commented: “They are a VALORANT team. The goal for us is that in a few years the distinction between male and female will not exist. There is a VALORANT team and there are male and female players. There is equality, and esports is the best tool to achieve it, in my opinion. There are no physical, hormonal differences that can play a role in esports. We as a team are just giving them the necessary tools.” 

CS:GO came out about 10 years ago and is still one of the most followed Esports. Do you think VALORANT can reach that kind of following, playerbase, team and competitive level in 10 years?

Yes, it depends on how the game progresses, basically, and how events grow and change and how Riot plans everything. At the moment, it’s not been in a crowded events environment. So we don’t know how far it will go in terms of spectators and stuff, but we saw that, especially at the beginning in the first days when the game came out, the numbers were huge. And I think they will grow more and more.

And from a gaming perspective, what do you think Riot should implement to create a more stable Esports scene? 

I think they are doing a good job. I just think that just bringing the crowd to the events will make a difference. The changes I would like to see in the game are more based on my professionalism than the audience itself.

And one last question: what are the differences you found in the two titles in the competitive scene? 

I mean, I think it’s first of all the fact that in VALORANT the circuit is well structured. We have Game Changers and everything is planned in advance. We know what’s going to happen during the year and we plan accordingly. We won in CS, but we never knew what the next tournament would be like and what the prize money would be. The organization was very inconsistent, whereas now we have consistency in communication and that makes a big difference in our preparation.