In the past decade, the esports scene worldwide has seen rapid growth. Many competitive games have seen the rise of their esports circuits attracting a lot of fans and providing massive prize pools. While esports still remains a largely male-dominated sphere (like traditional sports), this normalization is being broken.
Even though male esports players outnumber their female counterparts by a huge margin, female gamers are on the rise. According to many studies, women constitute nearly half of the total gaming population in the world. Hence it is not a surprise that various games having esports circuits are now organizing tournaments dedicated to women esports athletes nowadays.
During the rise of esports in the previous decade, women gamers often had a negative experience while competing professionally. Sarcastic comments, unnecessary toxicity, or even direct harassment, the plight of women esports players was unmatched. Combining these factors with the massive male competition and pressure to provide positive results, it was not surprising that none of the female esports scenes grew on a massive scale.
The remuneration was also a lot less for female gamers with even the prize pool of their tournaments being a lot less than the male ones. But these things have slowly changed in these years. The rise of esports has also led to the awareness of increasing female representation in the competitive environment.
Many popular games have successfully organized large female-centric esports events which have become huge hits. In VALORANT, Riot Games organized the VCT Game Changers Championship in November 2022. It featured 8 female VALORANT teams from around the world. The tournament had a $500,000 USD total prize pool and was immensely successful, garnering more than 200,000 peak viewers in the grand finals.
In the past few years, mobile gaming has also become a huge market with many games developing their esports leagues on this platform. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is currently the most played and watched mobile MOBA around the world. The game has a thriving esports circuit and last year, MOONTON Games also announced a female-only tournament in Southeast Asia.
Known as the MLBB Women’s Invitational (MWI), it had 8 female teams from different countries participate in it and also had a total prize pool of $15,000 USD. MOONTON has already announced that the MWI 2023 will be held next month with more teams and a bigger prize pool.
While there has been a rise in female-only esports tournaments (especially for team games), women gamers are also breaking barriers and finding playing opportunities on previously male-dominant teams. In the Korean LCK Challenger’s League, Liiv SANDBOX has signed in Jeon “DangMoo” Su Jin. She has become the first female League of Legends pro player in Korea.
In February 2018, Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon also became the first and only female esports player in Overwatch, joining Shanghai Dragons at that time. Even though she played only a few games during that time period and left the organization 2 years later, she still proved that women had the same capability as men in esports. She inspired a lot of female gamers and showed organizations that females can also achieve great heights if they are nurtured properly.
With the boom in the online streaming industry, many female gamers are also finding it a bit easier in attracting prospective attention with their impressive gameplay. Still, there is a lot more to build and improve if we want more women representation in esports.