For a good while now, we have followed with interest how the esports industry is tackling the issue of how women are treated, engage with and follow esports.
So it seemed positive news this week when one of the foremost esports tournaments organisers, the ESL, announced that they had formed a brand new women’s CS:GO circuit, which will have its inaugural season in 2022.
The new circuit comes complete with a prize pool of $500,000 and is part of a brand-new inclusivity and diversity program which has the tagline #GGFORALL.
However, the news has not gone down well with some influential personalities within the esports industry being vocal against the new initiative.
All-Female CS:GO Circuit
The aim of the new All-Female CS:GO circuit is not solely about increasing the number of women that engage with CS:GO.
The game is hugely popular with players all over the world and it is also one of the foremost games that people enjoy when esports betting. Its streams and clips have produced many memes aplenty over the years and it is universally recognised within the esports community.
The new tournament will seek to build on its male-dominated community by increasing awareness and providing a tournament in which women can compete against each other.
It will feature eight teams from North America and Europe and in addition, there will be a female talent development program initiated to allow talented players to be recognised, come through the ranks and earn a spot on a team.
There will also be an all-female player’s council, although what role they will play in the organisation, governance and direction of the new tournament is not yet clear.
The new tournament is part of the #GGFORALL initiative, aimed at turning esports gaming into a more inclusive, respectful, balanced and accepting community.
Interestingly, the new program will also include a number of Social Responsibility initiatives, which are going to pay close attention to any environmental impact that the tournament has, as well as helping establish a more focused, friendly and accepting to all esports community.
“More Visibility And Opportunities For Women In The Esports Space”
The Senior Vice President for People and Culture at ESL, Roberta Hernandez commented about the news:
“By providing an infrastructure equal to their male counterparts, we are thrilled to create more visibility and opportunities for women in the esports space, as well as to support them in their professional development and to help make their dreams come true.”
“This is only the first part of a number of #GGFORALL initiatives we are currently working on and we can’t wait to tell you more about what is yet to come.”
Each new ESL women’s CSGO league has a prize pool of $150,000 and the twice-yearly finals will be contested at DreamHack Dallas in June 2022 and DreamHack Winter in November 2022.
Additional standalone events with a prize pool of $100,000 will be played at DreamHack events, starting with DreamHack Valencia in July 2022.
Semmler And Thorin Criticism
However, the new initiative for women in CS:GO has not been universally welcomed. High profile esports personality Semmler started the criticism labelling the ESL’s new idea as being discriminatory against men.
While Semmler’s comments were condemned by many, others felt that he had a point.
One of those most outspoken in support of Semmler was Thorin, who went on a bizarre and foul-nouthed Twitter tirade against the tournament, women in esports and accused other male esports enthusiasts who supported the all-female tournament as being “future sex offender male feminists.”
Furthermore, he doubled-down on his comments, by blocking many prominent female esports stars who disagreed with his comments, only unblocking them so he could quote their Tweet and then leave an insult.
He finished his bizarre Twitter rant by declaring “Tell you what, so that cute thing where you tell me to get out of the industry I built and still rests on my f***ing shoulders. I AM ESPORTS!”
A Right Or Wrong Move?
On the one hand, does Thorin have a point about making women-only events? If Esports wants to be inclusive, then inclusivity needs to work both ways for men and for women. By having all-female events, does this run counter to the inclusive environment esports strives to be?
Disregarding his pretentious and melodramatic foul-mouthed comments, this point is worth considering and it is an issue we raised earlier this year.
However, what Thorin conveniently forgets is that the esports community has not been a welcoming place for women for many years and the fact that these initiatives are required, is proof that as things stand, for women to have the opportunities afforded to male players, this is a necessary step forward.
Not only that, but Thorin and Semmler’s comments are part of the problem that faces the esports community as it attempts to tackle a lack of acceptance, sexism and misogyny within its ranks.
Given that these people are the mouthpiece of many, Thorin’s criticism in particular of this tournament is precisely the reason why it is needed and why he is not representative of esports and the way it wants to present itself moving forward.