As 2021 draws to a close, Dexerto spoke to several women around the esports industry to hear about their experiences from the year.
In October 2021, a post appeared on the League of Legends subreddit that boldly asked the question: ‘why are there no female League of Legends pro players?’ The replies to this and other posts on the topic are eerily emblematic of the challenges women still face in esports, and gaming more widely.
On one hand, there was the creation of Valorant Game Changers, an all-women pro circuit for Riot’s FPS. On the other, the announcement of a $500,000 CS:GO women’s circuit run by ESL as part of its #GGForAll initiative has sparked a heated debate about whether or not separating tournaments by gender is doing a disservice to women in esports.
in 2008 there was literally a world of warcraft team named “gonna rape hafu at regionals” that qualified for blizzcon regionals
no i’m not surprised at the news
— Hafu (@itshafu) July 28, 2021
All this begs the question: when it comes to esports, how do women currently in the industry feel about the state of affairs as 2021 draws to a close?
Dexerto spoke to five women – Rainbow Six Siege player and content creator Marieke ‘MissMarie’ Denise, broadcaster and host Frankie Ward, two-time Valorant Game Changers champion Mathilde ‘Nelo’ Bartoise, host and esports personality Eefje ‘Sjokz’ Depoortere, and broadcaster and esports org owner Erin Ashley Simon. They shared their thoughts on the past year, and what still needs to change in esports.
Nelo dominated the early stages of the EMEA edition of Valorant Game Changers, the all-women pro circuit for Riot’s FPS title. Having taken home the first two EMEA Game Changers titles, Nelo gave her insight into how Game Changers has helped women’s esports and the importance of creating safe spaces for women in gaming.
When Valorant Game Changers began in March 2021, it was a North America-only event. The NA region ran three Game Changers events, and six Academy events, over the course of the year. The format was brought to the EMEA region in September, with the first series in the region starting on September 27.
On October 3, TENSTAR Nova were crowned the first EMEA Game Changers champions after beating Rix.GG Lightning 3-1 in the grand final. Nelo, the MVP of the title decider, could hardly contain herself when the team put the series to bed.
That’s how it feels to be the Champions.
— TENSTAR (@TENSTARGG) October 3, 2021
“I was in shock,” she said. “It was the first-ever trophy I had won, and I had won on it such a big stage. I just couldn’t believe it.”
What was more, her journey with Tenstar Nova had seen her defeat The Originals, a team that