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Esports tournaments function primarily as a vessel for fans to watch their favorite professional players compete at the highest level, but crafting and executing a successful broadcast requires consistent effort from a plethora of unsung heroes who utilize their talent to enhance and optimize the broadcast behind the scenes with their skills. 

One of these unsung heroes is Dari Settel, the wardrobe specialist for Riot Games’ VALORANT Champions Tour: Americas and League Championship Series, the premiere VALORANT and League of Legends esports competitions in North America.

Access to Hollywood

After getting her start in New York working on test commercials. Initially brought out to California for an ad campaign she was working on, Settel began to work in sitcom television on the west coast and eventually landed a job on Access Hollywood for three years. Settel’s time working on AH led to work on reality TV shows like Fear Factor (2017-2018) and Wipeout, but a new challenge would present itself to her in 2023.

“I wound up in esports because Dawn Persson, one of the producers I had previously worked with, was working in esports at a line producer,” Settel told Esports Illustrated. “She recommended me because a stylist was needed, so I got lucky, really.”

Persson’s recommendation led to Settel’s current position, but despite her eclectic array of experience, she found herself nervous at the onset. “I'm not really a gamer. Back in the day, I used to play Tomb Raider; that just goes to show you how old I am,” Settel said, laughing. “But that’s it. So I just kind of stumbled into it.”

Whatever stumbles occurred, they certainly didn’t appear on any broadcast Settel had a hand in – throughout the first half of 2023, she dove headfirst into taking on costuming abilities for the 10th season of the LCS before transitioning into curating the wardrobe for the first-ever VCT: Americas circuit.

Valorant volleyball match VCT: Americas

Settel was able to successfully continue in the direction of leaning into more casual wear over time that the LCS has headed towards over the years, but the inaugural season of VCT: Americas, which kicked off on April 1, 2023, presented an arguably greater challenge.

Creating a Look

Throughout nearly two months of VCT: Americas broadcast, Settel created a stylistic throughline for a broadcast that featured a revolving door of talent from a variety of regions, career backgrounds and previous experiences. Perhaps most impressively, she did so not through safe choices like plain, black pieces or drab colors, but instead, through an approach that featured highly saturated colors and dynamic patterns.

“I'd say there's an overall look for the show which is very vibrant, bold, fun – it’s electric, you know?” Settel explained. “We had so much fun putting the talent in all of these different things and even just shopping for it.”

While the LCS broadcast features a blend of formal and casual fits, the VCT: Americas broadcast leaned far more into streetwear and contemporary attire – blazers and the like were still present in the wardrobe, but they were outnumbered by multi-colored hoodies, neon sweaters and patterned bomber jackets. Settel’s eccentric styling gave the VCT: Americas talent a distinctive, cutting-edge with wide, flexible boundaries. “You’d be surprised how many women’s items we were buying and putting on men,” Settel said with a chuckle.

Whether it’s VCT: Americas or LCS, Settel works diligently with the talent directly to ensure their individuality is present in what they wear at the Riot Games Arena day in and day out.

It's really just getting to know who they are and what their comfort level is,” explained Settel. “We always say anytime that any one of them walks into our wardrobe room, we let them know – whether we just met two seconds before or we've been working with them the entire season – to communicate with us. We will not be offended if there’s something that's out of their comfort zone or doesn’t represent who they are because, at the end of the day, they’re still their own brands. Communication is really key.”

VCT: Americas casters

After the first half of 2023, Settel feels like the learning period of what works for esports and what doesn’t is in the rearview mirror, and her continuation of the evolution of the LCS’ style as well as the curation of the VCT: Americas wardrobe from scratch are proof of that. “We just got it dialed in. We get so excited when we find pieces that we know are gonna make the talent happy. We have so much fun with each show.

There’s no takeaway anymore. Now, we know exactly what we’re doing.”