‘I never used to voice my opinion, but now I’m starting to feel more open as a teammate’ – interview with GiantX UK Valorant Game Changers player Sarah ‘sarah’ Ahmed

Sarah 'sarah' Ahmed

(Photo by Bruno Alvares /Riot Games)

Sarah ‘sarah’ Ahmed is the British flex player for GiantX’s latest Game Changers roster, having previously played for the likes of G2 Gozen. The 18-year-old rising star (19 as of April 26th) set to take the stage at women’s tournament Red Bull Instalock this weekend, as well as the upcoming VCT 2024: Game Changers EMEA Stage 2 next month.
In one of Sarah’s very first interviews, Jack Freeman asks her about her journey in esports, from getting started to her bid to return to the biggest stage at the Game Changers Championship later this year.

Jack Freeman, Esports News UK: Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into Valorant?

Sarah ‘sarah’ Ahmed: My brother was playing it a lot when I was 16 and I used to watch him play, but I didn’t have a computer or anything. So I made a deal with my parents – if I got good really really good grades in high school, then they’d buy me a PC, so once I did that, I got my PC. And that’s how I started playing.

Once you realised how good you were at the game, how did you get into the competitive side of things?

[I wasn’t looking]. I met my former teammate Petra in ranked, we always played against each other and on the same team. And when Mary was taking a break, from Petra I got contacted to trial for them – and then I got onto the team. Like I’ve always said, it happened super fast.

Yeah because you started off with Sabres Impact and moved to G2 Gozen, which was quite a big step.

Yeah, I was just playing for fun when I started on Sabres Impact.

‘I never used to voice my opinion, but as I get more experience, I feel more open as a teammate to say if I liked something I did, or didn’t, or what we can improve.’

Sarah ‘sarah’ Ahmed

Now that you’ve established yourself as a pro player, how would you describe yourself as a player and teammate?

I think as a player I’m pretty flexible since I’ve joined GiantX. I’ve played three different roles already – duelist, initiator and smokes/controller – so I think I’m pretty flexible.

As a teammate, I think over the months I’ve become very talkative in a way. I never used to voice my opinion, but as I get more experience, I feel more open as a teammate to say if I liked something I did, or didn’t, or what we can improve and stuff like that.

As you mentioned, last year you joined G2 Gozen as a stand-in for Mary during the Game Changers EMEA Stage II. What were your thoughts at the time when replacing one of the most notable players on one of the biggest teams in the scene?

Oh my God, I was so scared. There was a lot of pressure and, at the beginning, it was pretty fun because it was my first time practising with such a big team and players that I’d watched playing on stage.

It was really scary and there was a bit of pressure. But honestly, I just thought about it like no one expects me to do anything, so I just had that mindset going forward. And if no one expects me to do anything, then it’s fine if I don’t perform.

So like you have nothing to lose really.

Yeah, nothing to lose. I’m just here for one split, just while Mary is taking a break and just having some fun.

You’re now with GiantX and we got a little teaser about you from the initial GiantX 2024 VCT Game Changers roster announcement. What do you bring to this roster?

I think I’m really open-minded into trying a lot of new things. Like I said I’m a flexible player, I will always try to fill in wherever my teammates need me or help in any way that I can.

Moving onto Red Bull Instalock, all teams must play three duelists in the matches. Will you be playing duelist again and how excited are you for this?

We’re all rotating on duelist so whoever wanted to play [duelist] can play. Our coach just said to play whatever you wanted to play and have some fun.

Honestly I don’t like playing duelist that much. I’m more of a chill player, I like to chill which is why I think flex suits me more, but I do have maps where I play duelist just for fun.

I was going to say, looking at your competitive history you’re most played agents are Raze, Jett and Reyna, so I thought you’d be quite excited to play them again.

I really enjoy playing Jett, but I don’t like Raze actually.

“Honestly I don’t like playing duelist that much. I’m more of a chill player, I like to chill which is why I think flex suits me more, but I do have maps where I play duelist just for fun.”

Sarah “sarah” Ahmed

In terms of teams here, you’ll have to face your former team in G2 Gozen. Do you see this as a friendly match or an opportunity to prove something?

I see it as a friendly match. I still love the team and I love everyone there, I’m friends with pretty much everyone and I’m just here to have some fun.

You’ll also be against Shopify Rebellion, who beat you on their way to winning the 2023 Game Changers Championship. How do feel about this matchup with your new team?

It’s a three-duelist tournament, it can go any way for anyone. I think it’s just who plays the most unpredictably because we’re not used to this kind of playstyle and no one else is.

It’s just about who’s more prepared – so we’ll see who’s more prepared.

On that roster you’ll also be facing your name nemesis in Sarah Simpson. I’m curious to hear what your relationship is with them and will there be a showdown for sole name rights?

I’m Sarah 2 and I’m happy with Sarah 2 – she can be Sarah 1! I love watching them play and they’re a very big inspiration to me since the beginning of Game Changers.

You recently competed in GiantX’s Valorant Women’s Cup at i72 on top of Game Changers last year and Birds of Prey back in 2022. What are your thoughts on the current state of women’s Valorant esports?

I think it’s still a progressing scene. Each year there are more tournaments and more awareness for women in esports, so every couple of months another tournament comes out like Red Bull Instalock.

It’s progressing well and there’s a future in there for women in esports.

Looking towards the future, can you tell us what your goals are for this year and beyond?

For this year, [the goal] is definitely qualifying for Game Changers Championship.

But for the future, I just want to keep improving in my current role since I’ve been switching quite a lot. I just want to stick to one thing and get really good at it.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Buy the GiantX Classic [esports bundle in-game]!

Red Bull Instalock will be streamed live on Red Bull’s Twitch and Youtube channels this weekend where GiantX will be facing G2 Gozen, Shopify Rebellion, and Karmine Corp Game Changers.

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