Evil Geniuses, the oldest major esports organization in North America, has leaned into the team’s name with the mantra Living Evil. But actions speak louder than words, and EG’s recent actions are much more heroic than villainous.
In late January, EG broke barriers in esports by signing a new VALORANT team made up of two women and three men. The squad is made up of Claudia “Clawdia” Che, Ronan “Osias” Javelona, Aleksandar “aleksandar” Hinojosa, Nolan “Temperature” Pepper and captain Christine “potter” Chi.
“I’ve been enjoying the captain role a lot,” said potter, who won seven Electronic Sports World Cup titles in CS:GO’s female event before focusing on broadcasting in 2018. “Being able to compete again, it’s brought a different kind of fire in me. It’s a really exciting time right now with VALORANT being so fresh.”
In the first year of a new esport like VALORANT, the best teams have been employing a hybrid approach where they pair young standouts with veterans of other esports. Potter, boasting over a decade of high-level play in CS:GO, was tapped to be Evil Geniuses’ veteran leader. At 34, she is nearly double the age of most of her teammates, who range from 18 to 21.
“Veterans are especially important in new esports,” potter said. “We are talking about a team environment, and we have some inexperienced youngsters on the squad, so I think it helps to have a player who brings some more perspective on what it takes to win at a high level.”
In her broadcasting work, potter has been an analyst for top CS:GO events like Flashpoint, Dreamhack, BLAST Premiere and more. As someone who helped take a sledgehammer to glass ceilings in esports in the mid-2000s, Potter and her teammates served as inspiration for the next generation of women gamers, including C9 White captain Melanie “meL” Capone.
“It’s really an honor that people looked up to me,” Potter said. “It’s kinda weird to think about those things, but it’s really cool and it makes me feel old, all at the same time. It’s definitely an honor, and it makes me want to live up to those expectations.”
As captain of C9 White, meL leads an all-women VALORANT team. While all-women teams competing in events with other all-women teams are more common in esports history (especially in CS:GO), in recent years mixed-gender rosters have become more common. Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim competed alongside men in the Overwatch League, Jamie “Karma” Bickford did so in the Rocket League Championship Series and Chiquita “Chiquitae126” Evans was drafted into the NBA 2K League as the only woman.
While one woman on a team is becoming more common, having two is a rarity. Unlike Potter, Clawdia is a young standout proving herself for the first time on a big stage with Evil Geniuses.
“[Compared to an all-women team] there are definitely some differences,” Potter said. “The conversations are a bit different, the way we interact with each other is a bit different. On my previous teams there was a big emphasis on what I would call sisterhood. With this team, we’re still building that synergy together and we don’t necessarily have the same shared experiences.
“The one thing that comes up the most between the players is what shows up in the rotating shop in VALORANT every day,” said Greg Kim, director of esports for EG.
That focus on the game is consistent across the team and the organization at large. According to EG’s CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson, the goal of this roster was not to be a marketing play, it was to put together a team of VALORANT players who can win.
“One of the things I have now with age is perspective and the ability to think back,” Potter said. “In hindsight, if I was competing in a mixed-gender setting instead of an all-women’s setting, it would have created different goals for myself. This type of setting gives you the potential to be the best. My goal would have been to be Tier 1, period, no other qualifiers attached.”
EG’s goal to qualify for the VALORANT Champions Tour’s North American Masters event is ongoing. Evil Geniuses were eliminated by Beastcoast on Thursday while competing in the second Challengers open qualifier, which continues this weekend. Potter & Co. will compete next at the third Challengers open qualifier starting Feb. 24th.
Lead image credit: Evil Geniuses