With the changing of the seasons, a new chapter begins for esports team GX3.
As the first all-women roster for Complexity Gaming, the newly dubbed Complexity GX3 will continue its 20-year mission of inclusivity as part of a bigger esports family.
Esports Insider sat down with GX3 Founder and six-time Esports World Cup Champion Alice ‘Alimonstr’ Lew as well as Complexity Gaming COO Kyle Bautista to learn more about the team’s history and future plans.
Nearly two decades ago, Lew visited her local LAN centres to compete in Counter-Strike. There, she realised how male-dominated the space was, which made it easier to find the only two other women competing.
“We connected almost right away because we were the only females in the space, but also by sharing our own struggles amidst toxicity,” Lew told Esports Insider. “We thought it would be really cool to build a platform that gives other females a chance to play in a safe and encouraging environment.”
And thus, GX3 — ‘Girls Got Game’ was born.
We’ll always have Paris
They were ‘young and poor’ when GX3 travelled to France to compete in ESWC 2004, recalled Lew.
“At 19 years old, we put this business proposal together in Word with a few pictures and just went door to door to see if anyone would sponsor us. We sent out millions of emails, flew out to conventions, and visited every booth. But they weren’t able to provide any financial means.”
Through that networking, Lew met a kind woman named Cheryl who just happened to be the Director of Marketing at Nvidia at that time. The company wasn’t able to provide actual money, but Cheryl gifted them with a box of unopened video cards and merchandise to sell.
Between the sale proceeds, a few donations, and money out of their own pockets, GX3 flew across the world to ESWC 2004 and placed fourth. Soon after the team returned home, Lew was contacted by a talent scout at MTV who wanted to feature her in an episode of ‘True Life: I’m a Professional Gamer’.
“I’m pretty shy, especially on camera,” Lew recalled, “but I knew that I wanted to showcase female gaming and so I did it. They followed us to ESWC 2005 and we actually won (the only team featured on the show that did), so that really kickstarted the GX3 legacy.”
Complexity (then compLexity) also won first place that year. Little did these champion teams know their futures would become intertwined.
“My parents thought I was crazy,” Lew said with a laugh. As a first-generation American of Chinese immigrants, she remembered that her parents didn’t fully understand, much less accept her career choice until years later.
“Even when MTV came to my house and interviewed my dad —even after we won our first tournament and I’m bringing home this huge paper check, they didn’t understand,” she said. “But they did know that I had so much passion and they went with it.”
Lew credits her parents with supporting that passion and recognising that esports gave her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and view the world in a new way.
GX3 became the first all-female team to be picked up by a major esports organisation, SK gaming, where they competed for several years before competing as Ubinited and then joining CLG red. At the same time, more orgs began to consider women teams.
After a long and successful career, Lew retired from professional gaming around 2015.
And then there was VALORANT
Time passed and Lew followed Counter-Strike from afar. As COVID-19 lockdowns took hold in 2020, however, she, like many others, played games a lot more often. A few friends reached out at the beginning of the pandemic offering her VALORANT beta codes and inviting her to play.
“I haven’t been able to stop playing ever since,” said Lew. “Luckily I had the opportunity to play in an all-female VALORANT tournament last year [FTW Summer Showdown] with a couple of old Counter-Strike teammates. We had tons of fun and I totally missed that.
“From that tournament, I saw there were so many females that were driving the scene and building the platform for others to come and play, and Riot was pushing that a lot. I knew I wanted to get back into the space and had the expertise to build a championship team. I wanted to pass on my knowledge before I’m done for good [playing professionally].”
Over a period of six months, Lew built a roster and officially came out of retirement.
The new GX3 team is:
Alice ‘Alimonstr’ Lew
Annie ‘Aniemal’ Lee
Maddison ‘maddiesuun’ Mann
Lacey ‘akaL4CE’ Dilworth
“I really believe we are the most special female out there because of all our different ages, backgrounds, and game histories,” Lew beamed. “We knew we wanted to partner with someone who believed in us not just in a competitive aspect but also in our initiatives for empowerment, fighting toxicity, etc. When we talked to Complexity Gaming, they had the same goals in mind.”
Old friends, new beginning
As it turns out, Complexity was one of the organisations that GX3 asked for sponsorship all those years ago. They said no.
“I’ve known Complexity Founder Jason Lake for a long time,” laughed Lew. “We’ve both been in the scene for a long time. I joke with him that it took 20 years to finally work together and now it’s awesome.”
Ultimately, it came down to an alignment of values and goals for the future that made this partnership happen, Lew added.
Complexity Gaming COO Kyle Bautista explained: “We always want to make sure that we’re supportive of those that are underserved within the community. Esports and gaming should be completely inclusive — there is nothing to hold anyone back from being the best in the world. Women have traditionally been one of these underserved groups, unfortunately.
“We already knew one way or another that we wanted to support a women’s team. We saw GX3 and were like, ‘this is awesome’. One of our current creators, Annie, had already started to compete professionally with GX3 and our relationship with Ali went way back. We knew her history and commitment to excellence and effecting positive change.”
Diversity and inclusion are hot topics in esports at the moment, but Complexity wants to make sure they go beyond the feel-good statements and take meaningful action. In fact, they went so far as to include diversity initiatives into their pitch to GX3 and the subsequent contract.
Complexity has fielded a men’s VALORANT team for over a year and while fan crossover exists between men and women competitions, Bautista notes that women’s VALORANT, in particular, attracts some pretty die-hard fans.
“For us, it’s all about utilising the platform that Complexity has alongside the platform that these tremendously powerful women in gaming have and being able to open up and speak to an audience that we don’t necessarily reach every day,” said Bautista. “We want to say, ‘we want you to be a part of this. You matter. You are heard, you are seen, and you are important.”
Bautista notes that Complexity has a ‘wonderfully storied history’ of having strong female gamers, going back nearly 15 years to the Championship Gaming Series.
“It’s nothing new for Complexity to field female competitors,” said Bautista, “but this is the first time we’ve fielded an entirely women’s team which is something we’re really excited about.”