When the Valorant Champions Tour made its debut, it was clear that developer Riot Games was taking its product in a bold new direction compared to its existing portfolio. Sporting visuals grounded in modern design – from the Blender-generated 3D set pieces, to the graphics inspired by popular internet aesthetics – VCT is effortlessly cool in its presentation, and is in touch with the new generation of esports viewers.
VCT’s aesthetic beats don’t simply exist in video teasers and social media banners, either. Everything from music choice to stage design is deliberately chosen to remain consistent with its overarching vision. In fact, if you tuned into any of Valorant’s Masters or Champions events over the past year, you’ll have probably noticed that even the talent is getting in on it, bearing elevated streetwear pieces, and even custom garments embellished with the VCT emblem – a rarity in esports.
This, as it transpires, is all thanks to the creative vision of VCT’s two Berlin-based stylists – Christina Greiner and Mina Muraschkin. Although neither of them had experienced the esports industry before, let alone worked in it prior to their first day on the job at Berlin’s Masters event back in September 2021, the duo’s approach to their craft has consistently earned them plaudits from across the scene.
To learn more about the pair responsible for some of the most exciting looks in esports right now, The Loadout sat down with Greiner and Muraschkin for a chat. Here we dive into being thrown into esports’ deep end, falling for Valorant esports, and more.
Greiner and Muraschkin originally met at a dance studio back in 2015, where they quickly became good friends. Greiner was looking for a place to put on her dancing shoes, having not long returned from the United States where she studied apparel merchandising and event management. Meanwhile, Muraschkin – who had graduated a year prior with a degree in fashion design – just so happened to be working there at the time.
Despite initially treading different paths within the fashion industry, they would converge and begin working together in 2017. As their friendship blossomed, Greiner says they became “inseparable” – something which is glaringly evident from their socials.
“It’s very convenient because you have a lot of long hours,” she notes, “and you’re spending that much time with a person for weeks. It’s great that we’re such great friends, because that way we can work together and have a great dynamic. And, you know, they’re just so very honest and open about everything, so it works out really well.”
So, how did two stylists who were completely non-endemic to esports get involved with VCT? Well, coincidentally, the stylists Riot originally intended to hire for Masters Berlin 2021 couldn’t make it, and VCT global events head Jean-Baptiste Blot was on the hunt for local replacements. As Muraschkin tells me, mutual industry connections with Blot from her costume work in music and dance put her up for the task, setting the stage.
“They called me on the Thursday,” Muraschkin says, “it [Masters Berlin] started on the Monday. They were like ‘this is a videogame job, do you have time?’” As we know from hindsight, Muraschkin accepted. And, of course, as Jaccob ‘yay’ Whiteaker wouldn’t be without Chamber, Muraschkin wouldn’t be without Greiner.
“When Mina approached me I was like ‘well I heard esports is really cool,’” Greiner recalls. “But it was a completely different world.”
Upon arriving at the Verti Music Hall, the pair didn’t know what to expect – both designers had experienced the cold shoulder of the fashion industry. “People are not nice in the fashion industry”, Muraschkin laments. “It’s the truth.”
However, what awaited them wasn’t the silent stares of uncaring peers, or a cramped pocket of space to operate in – Muraschkin recalls occasions where she wouldn’t even get a table to work from – but genuine appreciation and a whole workroom to call their own.
“I really had the feeling that they needed us and they saw how important our work is,” Muraschkin adds, “because the first thing you see when you see a person is how they look. I was really surprised, I had no expectations at all, it was so nice because it was super different to a lot of the jobs before.”
Although most of the groundwork had been completed prior to their arrival, and the general expectation was for the duo to make alterations to pre-existing fits, the pair had other ideas. “We always want to do things the best,” Muraschka states, “so we tried to find things we could do to elevate it. They didn’t ask for us to do more, we just did it.”
Clearly, going above and beyond curried Riot’s favour, as since then Greiner and Muraschka have featured as the de facto stylists for VCT’s international events. The ‘elevated streetwear’ style the pair have been elevating is, Greiner tells me, what Riot wants to be known for fashion-wise when it comes to Valorant.
“That’s what it’s aiming for”, she says, “so when everybody sees something they’re like ‘oh, this is so VCT style.’ We’re trying to work on that, and we’re still improving every show because we’re trying new things – seeing what works, what doesn’t work. ”
The culmination of this process went on display at Valorant Champions 2022, as Muraschkin debuted her VCT collection – a gorgeous selection of black and gold pieces, emblazoned with VCT iconography. Styled by the likes of Alex ‘Goldenboy’ Mendez, Yinsu Collins, and Fnatic’s Jake ‘Boaster’ Howlett while on the desk, I and countless others in the community couldn’t keep our eyes off the drip.
“That’s a great thing about Valorant,” Greiner says with a smile, “it’s such a new brand, so we can create the fashion brand with them together.”
When asked about their approach to styling talent, the pair concur that collaboration and trust is key to ensuring their comfort, and confidence in their looks. “Every person is very different,” Muraschkin states, “and I think a big part of our job is to make them feel safe, to make them trust us.
“Every event when we see the talents that we already know, they trust us so much more – they don’t even want to see stuff beforehand, they’re just like, ‘we know that you guys are gonna find what we like.’”
“A lot of people never got dressed [by stylists] before,” Greiner adds, “so when we dress them they can come out of their shell and try something new, and they’re just so nice.”
It’s not just broadcast talent that this dynamic duo have been working their magic on, either. Having enjoyed a steadily-increasing access to players for certain shoots – namely the 2022 Valorant Champions features – Greiner and Muraschkin are on-hand to ensure that the stars of VCT look as good in their headshots off-stage as they do when they’re landing them on it.
“It’s so exciting for us,” Greiner says, “because we don’t play the game, we just see the players and we don’t interact with them. So now, getting to know them, it’s easy. It’s more fun watching the games, because you can cheer for people. You see them beforehand and you’re like, ‘oh my god, good luck’ and all that.”
As the pair have gradually fallen deeper and deeper down the esports rabbithole, their own views and attitudes have inevitably been shaped by the positive interactions they’ve had within it. From complete newbies to active advocates, Valorant has truly gotten its tenterhooks into them.
“When the game starts, I catch myself getting really into it,” Muraschkin says. “Because in the beginning, we had no idea what was happening. We always have a screen in the wardrobe, and we were just looking and thinking, ‘okay, we have no clue what’s happening.’ But now, we have teams we want to win – we’re so into it, and way more emotional about it.”
As the 2022 VCT calendar neared its conclusion, Greiner and Muraschkin came full-circle, and once again found themselves back in Berlin. After a hectic year of applying their talents to a completely foreign industry, they returned home with heads now-filled with Valorant knowledge, and, of course, an ever-increasing number of garment-filled cases – three road cases and ten suitcases at this point, Greiner tells me.
While the latter perhaps falls within the pair’s expectations, they were surprised to find just how much about the shooter they actually knew by the time they got to November’s Game Changers Championship.
“Our friends and family came to Game Changers and I explained the game to them,” Greiner recalls. “I was like ‘oh my god, I actually know a lot about this game already.’ So it’s kind of cool to see how much we’ve learned, and how much we understand everything that’s behind it now – it’s a really cool game.”
A celebration of the women and marginalised genders who will hopefully come to help shape and dominate the main VCT circuit in the years to come, the Game Changers Championship brought together the top eight FE/MG teams from across the globe to duke it out in Greiner and Muraschkin’s back yard.
“Having all these female teams is a big thing – especially for us women,” Muraschkin remarks. “This was super exciting for us.”
“We had some new talent to work with”, Greiner says. “Getting to know some new people, and seeing an all-female desk was really cool – they gave us a shout out so they’re our favourites.
“I agree [with Muraschkin]. It’s an incredible opportunity, and even them [Riot] doing this event, I think, is a huge step forward in supporting women, and showing that they’re amazing too – the final game was insane.”
Within their first year in the scene, the work of Greiner and Muraschkin has become a central pillar in Valorant’s overarching aesthetic. And, as fans and colleagues alike have fallen in love with the looks they bring to each event, they too have slowly fallen for the esport behind the scenes. Always looking to go bigger and better, I can’t wait to see what the pair have up their incredibly-stylish sleeves heading into the 2023 VCT season and beyond.