They were five strangers put together and tasked to represent their country in one of the most demanding team games in esports history.
Their captain had to drop out just before the competition started. And it didn’t help that they had to play thousands of miles away from home, in an island nation in the middle of a pandemic.
But with their back against the walls, the women from Team Great Britain pulled off an amazing journey at the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games. They beat a path through the competition and nearly, very nearly, snatched the DOTA 2 crown from the pre-tournament favorites in December 2021.
Looking back, the team scarcely believed their luck. Soon after the team was formed, the captain of Team GB had to withdraw due to a scheduling conflict. In her place, Ruby “ValkyrjaRuby” Dawn and Belle “bellemiku” Howard had to take the leap into an already deep dive.
“Neither of us had any captaining experience,” said ValkyrjaRuby, the chief operating officer of DOTA Valkyries, a platform supporting women in esports. “It was a pretty big challenge for me personally.”
The 23-year-old’s job was magnified as it was the first time all members were playing on the same team, which also included Lucy “Little Lucy” Innocent, Naomi “Soong45” Jones and Lily “Always~changing” Milne. This meant that the captaining duo had to balance the synergy and develop sound strategies from scratch.
Perhaps it was the adversity that helped them focus, but it was clear that everyone was up to the task. Instead of bowing to pressure, they rallied and let their love of esports pull them together.
“Bonding with each other and overcoming obstacles together brought us closer within a short span of time,” ValkyrjaRuby recounted. “The most memorable moment was winning the first game in the grand finals — I never expected us to take a game from the Singapore women’s team as individually, they were far more skilled than us.”
Winning online and offline
This once-in-a-lifetime experience saw Team GB emerge victorious not only on the podium, but also in their personal lives.
“I learnt that I’m capable of pushing myself further than I ever thought I could,” ValkyrjaRuby said. “I struggle with anxiety, and I would never have been able to imagine myself flying across the world to compete on broadcast.”
“For our first time competing in a professional environment, I think we all did amazing. I am so proud of the progress we made as a team and on a personal level I have grown so much and can't wait to showcase even more at my next event,” added bellemiku.
As the inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships, jointly staged by the Global Esports Federation and the Commonwealth Games Federation approaches in August, ValkyrjaRuby and her teammates might return to compete for another shot at glory in Birmingham. However, they could very well do so as opponents, not allies.
“Teams are still in the process of being formed,” said ValkyrjaRuby. “But I expect to see multiple players from the women’s Great Britain team representing their own country within the United Kingdom!”
Despite the potential matchups, they hope to reunite one day and compete on the world stage together, as esports continues to evolve and connect gamers globally.