Cloud9 White are champions once again. The finals of the VALORANT Champions Tour Game Changers Series II in North America came down to an anticipated rematch between Cloud9 White and Shopify Rebellion on Saturday. Earlier this week, Shopify became the first team to beat C9 in a Game Changers tournament. Cloud9 White have always been on the throne for the women’s VALORANT scene in North America, and though Shopify Rebellion lost tonight, they came closer than any team has before of stealing C9’s crown.
In the end, C9 finished the match with a score of 3-1 against Shopify Rebellion, winning in four thrilling maps that kept viewers on their toes.
Shopify got the first map pick and chose to go to Icebox. C9, who hadn’t played Icebox in the tournament, opted to go for a double controller composition, with meL flexing onto Omen while usual controller player katsumi locked in Viper. So far this tournament, C9 have been playing around with no-duelist compositions, instead choosing to put Jazzyk1ns on Chamber and allowing her play aggressively.
C9 took the first pistol round despite a slight miss from meL, and easily snowballed into the second round. Once both teams were able to buy full loadouts, rounds started to go back and forth in typical C9/Shopify fashion, but C9 were up at the half with a score of 7-5.
KP was a standout for Shopify, not only getting high-value frags, but also utilizing her Snakebites perfectly, demonstrating her expertise on Viper. It was also evident that KP and her team were confident with their strategies on Icebox. Shopify powered through their defensive side after being down on the half to end Icebox with a winning score of 13-7.
C9’s took the series to Ascent, where they brought out meL’s Cypher once again after showing the composition earlier this Game Changers. Shopify went for a composition with three initiators, and neither team chose to incorporate a duelist into their lineup.
C9 once again won the first two rounds of the map, and they built on the momentum for six rounds before Shopify managed to get one on the board. Jazzy starred for C9, adopting an aggressive style of playing Sage and top-fragging throughout first half. C9 went into the half up 7-5 once again.
Shopify came back on their attack side, and flowerful made the difference with her Tour de Force having major impact. Sonder and Lorri stepped up big in the later rounds, but some incredible shots from katsumi inside an Astra smoke turned the tides completely. C9 eventually took Ascent with a close score of 13-11.
Next, Shopify took C9 to Fracture, a map C9 has been struggling with during this tournament. For the first time in the match, Shopify took the first pistol round. They easily continued this momentum riding off the success of sonder, who went 10-2 on Neon in the first five rounds. C9 took their timeout after the fifth round to try and swing momentum back into their favor, but still ended the half down 9-3.
C9’s defense, however, was the polar opposite of their attacking side. After taking the pistol round, they stormed back to close the gap between themselves and Shopify to just two rounds, forcing a Shopify timeout with the score at 11-9. The timeout did little for Shopify, however, and C9 were finally able to overcome their weakness on Fracture, completing their comeback by a score of 13-11 to get themselves to match point in the series.
The two teams then moved on to Breeze, a map C9 had dominated on against TSM X earlier in the day. In the first half, Shopify proved that they wouldn’t gift C9 a similar victory.
Despite several close rounds, Shopify stormed to the lead in the first half and opted to play an aggressive defense, using fast rotations to match C9’s tempo. Even though Shopify did decide to use a duelist in their composition this time with Lorri on Jett, it was still sonder and flowerful on top of the scoreboard with their kills, and Shopify ended the first half up 8-4.
Once again, C9 stared a significant deficit in the face, and once again they showed their champions’ mentality. They brought the game to the verge of overtime before Shopify took their timeout at a 12-11 scoreline. On map point, Shopify began with a push into B site, but C9 rotated quickly and once again executed a great retake to send Breeze to extend the map.
The overtime was full of big swings, with kills being traded left and right. Bob saved C9 on attack with a double kill to turn the round in their favor after meL was picked off early. They secured the victory on attack, then turned around and defended with aplomb, winning another Game Changers title.
C9 put a strong mentality on display throughout the match, being forced to come back multiple times. Coach x0tek said he credits katsumi with being able to turn the team around and keep the players mentally in the moment, even when the team is down by several rounds.
“Even being down 3-9 or 4-10, it didn’t really feel like it mattered that much,” katsumi said to Dot Esports after the win. “All that mattered was winning the next round. Like, all that matters is right now.”
Though C9 did what was expected of them the whole tournament and regained their title as Game Changers champions, Shopify Rebellion played at an entirely new level. They were always the team closest to unseating the queens of C9 from their throne, and though they fell short once again it is clear that they are a force to be reckoned with.
“Our plan is to qualify for Champions and win that shit,” Shopify coach robwiz said in a press conference Saturday night. “I have full faith that we will overcome Cloud9. We have so much to be proud of, we’re going to get there.”
The Game Changers teams will now look forward to the first VCT Game Changers LAN event later this year in Berlin, where the best female and non-binary VALORANT teams from across the world will battle on the international stage for the first time.