Four players dropped, but Team SMG's female VALORANT squad not giving up just yet

(Photo: FSL/SMG)
(Photo: FSL/SMG) ((Photo: FSL/SMG))

With a 5-6th place finish for Game Changers APAC Elite, the all-female VALORANT squad of Team SMG will not be competing at the upcoming VCT 2022 Game Changers Championship on Nov 15 in Berlin, and will instead switch up their roster ahead of next season.

The team had high hopes in trying for the top spot, but fell to the all Filipino squad of ZOL Meraki in the lower bracket quarterfinals.

Team SMG, which stands for Still Moving under Gunfire, was founded back in 2017 by local singer JJ Lin.

In 2022, the esports org debuted an all-female lineup consisting of Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong, Ewa “Envious” Yu Ting, Kellyn “Kaephrodite” Sim, Jularat “YOKY” Buaphan, and Elyse “ratatoulyse” Lim. Ryona “Tara” Shannen Tan joined the squad for APAC Elite.

After they failed to qualify for Berlin, ratatoulyse, Envious, YOKY, and Kaephrodite were let go on Nov 7.

(Photo: Team SMG)
(Photo: Team SMG) ((Photo: Team SMG))

SMG's IGL (in game leader) Kohaibi told Yahoo Southeast Asia in an email interview that the team had wanted to win and qualify for a spot in the Championships, but said that her performance had suffered due to personal matters.

“I was having a hard time during a few of my matches due to some issues faced in my personal life for the first time in my entire esports career. However, this made me stronger and want to do better,” she said.

Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong
Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong (Screenshot: Team SMG YouTube) ((Screenshot: Aloysius Low))

The female esports scene has been gaining traction in recent years, with VALORANT especially having 30-40 per cent of their player base being female.

That said, Kohaibi and Tara both shared that one of the misconceptions that they’ve heard about the female scene was that the players were not as good as the male scene.

“Honestly, they just haven't seen the bigger picture,” said Kohaibi.

Despite the esports scene being heavily male dominated, Kohaibi shared that she found out that she had talent for First Person Shooter (FPS) games, and discovered herself being on par or even better than most guys.

On the other hand, Tara was exposed to games at a young age, and loved playing competitive games. She found competitive games to be very fun, and it eventually led her to become a professional player.

But joining Team SMG as a professional wasn't an easy decision for Tara. She had previously retired from professional VALORANT after being a part of Alter Ego Celeste, which had dominated the SEA scene in 2021.

Tara shared that she had retired from the VALORANT esports scene as she had lost her motivation to play the game.

"However, I have found a new drive to play for SMG and to work hard with my teammates for the upcoming Game Changers in 2023,” said Tara.

Despite not making it to Berlin this time round, Kohaibi and Tara are not giving up.

Together with their team, they plan to continue their training, and prepare for the 2023 APAC Elite Game Changers.

Both Kohaibi and Tara have maintained that they are going to get stronger from here, and lead their team to victory. The recent roster change may also help switch things up for them.

Team SMG’s roster:

Abigail “Kohaibi” Kong

Ryona “Tara” Shannen Tan

This story is the work of student contributors working with Yahoo Southeast Asia.

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