Why aren’t there more all-women tournaments? It is one of the mysteries of the esports world.
It is all the more puzzling when you consider that women make up more than 40% of all gamers in both the United States and also in Asia, which accounts for 48% of the world’s total gaming revenue.
There are many reasons which perhaps contribute to why the industry is so heavily skewed towards male gamers – among them, low female representation in both the top jobs at global gaming companies (16%) and in having female protagonists (5%).
But when the inaugural Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games (GEG) gets underway on December 18, women gamers are set to take centre stage alongside their male counterparts.
The two-day global esports extravaganza will be the first major global competition to feature an all-women category.
Four teams from Great Britain, Paraguay, Mongolia and hosts Singapore will be tuning their screens, polishing their keyboards and showing off their mouse skills. The four teams won their respective regionals in November to qualify for the competition.
And when the Games begin, it will mark the end of a long wait for Team Britain’s Lucy “Little Lucy” Innocent, who plays in the team’s carry position.
“I think it’s great to be able to play in an all-women team as (it) levels the (playing field),” she said. “It enables a lot of various ranks to be able to compete and be a part of something special.”
Mark Weller, Chief Gaming Officer at Vexed Gaming and team manager for Great Britain said the fact that the Global Esports Federation (GEF) is bucking the trend to feature an all-women category sends a very powerful message that it is time women gamers be taken more seriously and given more recognition.
“I feel there is no reason as to why women should be treated any differently to men anywhere in the world,” he said.
“I’m very excited. It’s not often you see women representation at major tournaments, so to have a category at the Games and a shot for a powerful women team to fight for a medal and inspire the next generation, I feel is very powerful.”
Janet Su, team manager of Singapore’s Dota 2 women’s team, added that GEG could potentially put in motion a movement that will encourage more acceptance of women’s tournaments.
“Having a women’s category creates an environment which allows a larger group of women to experience competing on a global level, as well as the opportunity to interact with more women esports athletes,” she said. “I feel this will help create a positive ripple effect as these women athletes can then share with their home community of aspiring women esports athletes their experience and knowledge.”
In fact, Asia — specifically Southeast Asia — has been leading the way when it comes to women-only tournaments and publicizing them. In 2020 and 2021, the most-watched women tournaments in the world were mainly those coming out from Southeast Asia. In 2021, the Woman Star League Season 3 was the most-watched women’s tournament in the world, with 121,000 viewers and over 2 million hours watched. The second most popular women’s event was the UniPin Ladies Series with over 800,000 hours watched. Both events were from Indonesia. And with the inaugural GEG taking place in Singapore, it is only apt that GEG2021 leads the way to champion women gamers. “Esports is a space that welcomes all and we hope that more will recognize that,” said Kelvin Tan, GEF Director of Esports. The recognition that women can elevate the sport was a key reason why GEF decided to include an all-women’s category in this year’s competition. Said Tan: “One of the values that the GEF is built on is equality and diversity. In our policies and decisions every day, we strive to create an environment that is inclusive, which welcomes women as much as we do the men. “To that end, we created a women’s segment to encourage women to be active in esports, and so that their skills and technical expertise can be showcased on the same stage.” It remains to be seen if more major tournaments will move to include all-women categories. But one thing is certain — the GEG2021 women’s Dota 2 players are raring to go. Teams Great Britain, Paraguay, Mongolia and Singapore are keen to show that girl power can be as good as the men. Said Little Lucy: “My wish for women’s esports is to develop an inclusive environment where women feel proud to be a part of something they love and enjoy.”