Supporting Counter-Strike’s Professional Women

Courtesy of Aurélie Bellacicco Photographie

In Pop Flash, a series of insights into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site], Emily Richardson looks past the amazing clutches and crushing defeats to understand the culture and meta of Valve’s everlasting competitive FPS.

In comparison to some other games, Counter-Strike is doing pretty well with regard to its female pro scene. The situation is far from perfect – there are still issues both at the professional and amateur levels, and we definitely want more women competing, but there are some extremely talented women playing CSGO professionally. So I’m interested to learn more about what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, and how can we encourage more women to get into eSports.

Header image courtesy of Aurélie Bellacicco Photographie.

For me, watching the women’s games at events like the Electronic Sports World Cup is inspiring and every bit as exciting as the male-dominated matches. Every round is tense and ripe with amazing plays. The only thing better is watching mixed-gender teams play, and I’m pretty sure I speak for a lot of women when I say that my ultimate hope for CSGO – and other eSports – is to see a huge variety of mixed teams playing at every level of competition, from the highest tiers to the lowest amateur leagues. There’s just no reason why it can’t be that way.

After all, if we get more women playing competitively, we’re probably gonna get more women watching, more versatile and exciting games, and more sponsors. Having a more diverse range of people playing will, hopefully, lead to eSports becoming more mainstream and more financially enticing to bigger broadcasting companies. Hence more money for players, teams, events, organisers and probably more job opportunities within the eSports industry as a result.

The women competing in CSGO are distributed across most levels of competition – amateur, semi-professional and professional – but we’ve yet to see a woman win Dreamhack Winter or ESL One. Why?

Heather “SapphiRe” Garozzo thinks that it’s a numbers game. “Let’s say there are ten times as many male players as there are female” she says, “and only 1% of those males are skilled enough to play professionally. For females, one percent of a much smaller population means a much smaller group of top skilled females.”

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Heather is a professional CSGO player currently on Team Karma. She’s thirty, lives in Los Angeles and still plays with the same ferocity and determination that she did when she first started playing competitively fifteen years ago. She says, “I truly believe there are a handful of females that could compete on a lower tiered professional team, but this is where misogyny may come into play. I think it’s going to be a while until there is a tier 2 or tier 3 professional team that tries out a female.”

For a lot of women, getting recognised for their abilities can be hard, even when they’re competing and scrimming regularly to great success. CSGO’s best women’s teams are doing pretty damn well considering the vast difference in overall player numbers, with CLG Red sitting at 35th in the GosuGamers rankings (around the same level as teams like LGB eSports, Copenhagen Wolves, and PENTA Sports), but as Heather says, we’ve yet to see a woman join a top tier team in spite of their apparent ability.

I wonder if this is down to a lack of exposure, to some extent. Twitch and other streaming services have been great for the female CSGO scene, in terms of bringing them an audience they didn’t really have before. However, the majority still aren’t being streamed and it’s not always easy to find those that are. I suppose this is in part due to cost and resources. Every stream needs a commentator and technical support, and the viewership hasn’t been proven to be there yet. That’s the dilemma, though – if streams aren’t available or easy to find, how can a viewership assert itself?

Kristen, a full-time Twitch streamer going by the name “KittyPlays”, has played CSGO for a long time – it’s a regular part of her channel. She’s not a pro, but she’s actively doing her best to bring more exposure to other women playing the game and she’s trying to nurture a positive community around it.

“It’s not obvious to me how to know when or where to find women’s professional competitions on Twitch,” she tells me when I ask her about streaming and the exposure issue. “They often compete in tournaments which are part of the same tournament where men are competing, and the primary Twitch channels for those events or leagues tend to be showing [that part of the] competition, since there is a much larger audience for that.

“If there were a website or a section on Twitch that people know to check for upcoming women’s events, to see a broadcast schedule, and to see which women’s matches are currently live and on which channels, I think that could make it much easier for people to find women’s matches.”

When I ask CLG Red superstar Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey, she says, “I believe the women that actually compete are more focused on playing than promoting their games, and that we need other people to care for them and broadcast them. Unfortunately, there is little-to-no support for female teams and some might say it’s because they need to be better to get that support. I can understand their point, but it goes back to promoting women in the scene to bring more women in.”

Courtesy of Aurélie Bellacicco Photographie
Courtesy of Aurélie Bellacicco Photographie

I believe this is true. Lots of people seem to misunderstand the promotion of women in eSports as women trying to brute-force their way into top tier teams without having the talent or credentials to be there, but that’s not the case. Promoting female players and giving them a stage shows other women that competitive CSGO is a viable career if they’re willing to do the legwork. And some of those women will be able to make it to the top. This gives us an exciting and ever- fluctuating roster of talented, committed pro players to create even better tournaments. And surely that’s what everyone wants, right?


  1. Serenegoose says:

    Good article. Not really part of the CSGO scene myself, but if things are improving over there, it’s a good sign for other games and communities following suit. Thanks for writing it! :)

  2. Abndn says:

    I’d be more optimistic if we had seen even a single example of a female non-transgendered gamer competing at the highest level in a popular e-sports game. You would think there’d be at least one defying the odds, but so far it has never happened to my knowledge. The closest I think of is hafu.

    • pringles says:

      Scarlett had some success in the pro Starcraft 2 scene.

      • Zankman says:

        Read, man!

        • Gibs says:

          So, he’s saying that competing “women” are actually men-turned-women players?

          If so, IMHO, it’s time e-sports start using gender verification like real sports. Specially if the plan is to include more women in gaming.

          • Abndn says:

            Not going quite that far. Scarlett and a small handful of other known pro players are known to be transgendered. There are no female non-transgendered professional e-sports players who can compete at the highest level in a popular e-sports game. I am not saying this is a good thing, and I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to list me examples.

          • alfie275 says:

            So you’re saying that to get more women involved in e-sports, the solution is to discriminate against any woman who is transgendered? I don’t really see how making less women able to play would increase the number of women playing?

      • Abndn says:

        Scarlet is transgendered. Female/Male comparisons are interesting because the cultural and biological contexts are different. Transgendered people have very different contexts of their own, so it’s not really the same.

        • Paul B says:

          As far as I’m concerned a transgender woman is just as much of a woman as a cisgender one. I think any examples of females playing games at an elite level should include transgender women – I don’t see any reason why not. In my own mind, I can’t see any sensible reason why they shouldn’t be included?

          • Abndn says:

            Well the issue here is that transgendered people face a very different cultural context, and cultural context is the primary reason (we believe) that women don’t compete at the highest level of e-sports. People treat them differently from ‘regular women’ no matter what else you might think. I hate this PC bullshit where we can’t be curious if someone with a cis woman’s cultural context can be successful in video games. It’s obviously correct that they’re not in the same sort of boat entirely (anything else would be *you* misrepresenting transgenderism).

    • boba says:

      I thought Renegades LoL team had a female support? They qualified for LCS next split. Is she a transgender?

  3. Hyes says:

    Great write-up! Good to see women in eSports get attention.

  4. BlackeyeVuk says:

    Im not into all that cry for attention kinda mood. But this article is alright.

    E-sport should include both genders, and I hope this will reduce bias toward girls and women playing games professionally.

  5. Devan says:

    It’s good to see. Female representation in professional eSports depends on only one thing: female players at a professional skill level.

    People who perform at that level are rare because of the prerequisites such as physical and mental capabilities, exposure to the game, interest, willingness to postpone personal lives/school/careers, and an enormous commitment to practice.
    As gaming in general becomes more popular, and (hopefully) it is viewed less as a childish or masculine pursuit, there should be an increasingly larger pool of potential female pro gamers.

    • Max Planck says:

      I don’t think gaming was ever viewed as a ‘masculine pursuit’. Childish, yes.

  6. Hitchslapped says:

    Oh come on. I’ve been part of a team that organizes one of the bigger German LANs for about 8 years now. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you’re whining about being called a bitch at a bloody LAN. I’ve heard many men call eachother WAY worse things than that and nobody was “bitching” about it afterwards. If you can’t handle stupid insults while gaming then maybe there’s a reason why women aren’t doing that well in gaming. It’s called being thin-skinned.

    • Brinx says:

      Seriously? Even aside from the gender aspect of it: We’re talking about professional/semi-professional sport here. In every other sport insulting another player is an instant red card/dismissal/appropiate sports term. If esports want to be recognized as a serious sport they should start treating it as one.

      • Abndn says:

        Have you even played a sport? Have you even *watched* sports? In real sports insults run rampant, and many of the top athletes are mad trash talkers and often quite horrible even to teammates (Michael Jordan was a great example of this).

        • Brinx says:

          Without actually looking up the rules I’m still pretty certain that the formal rules to every sport forbid insulting another player on the field. And at least in European football you can also be reprimanded for insults off the field (for example at a press conference).
          (Of course no one can do anything if you insult people/other players on your twitter or whereever, but come on, you should treat people fairly in sports and everywhere.)

          • Llewyn says:

            Actually, several British footballers (Rio Ferdinand is the obvious example) have served suspensions for discriminatory insults made on Twitter.

        • Brinx says:

          Also: Yes, I’ve played a sport.

          • Abndn says:

            So your argument is that official rules state that insults are not allowed, thus you will not need a thick skin to do well. Mind-blowing revelation: these rules aren’t followed in e-sports or in regular sports, especially when no referees are present.

            Do you also cross the street without looking left or right, confident that every car will obey the traffic rules and stop when they see the red light?

          • Buuurr says:

            As far as I have read, the OP said sports do involve insults and provocation (permitted via rules or not insults are a very, very common part of the game).

            That said, I can think of many sports that are recognized as serious sports and have insults as a part of the game. American football. Rugby (oh! WOW! The words you learn there.) Soccer (Hell! People have killed each other in that one!).

            Regardless of your stance, the world has a different one and the OP is absolutely correct.

          • Big Murray says:

            You’re saying “nobody follows those rules, so stop bitching?” Hell, look at Nick Kyrgios … he shouted an insulting comment about his opponent’s girlfriend at his opponent during a match, and got punished heavily for it. Because that’s how it should be.

        • SuicideKing says:

          In physical sports you can also get banned/fined/booked for racism. I don’t see why sexism should exempt from the same rules.

        • LexW1 says:

          This just isn’t true.

          There are many sports where insults are rare and considered pretty deadly (golf, tennis, etc.) – even in team sports, they’re rarer than you’re suggesting, and have to be used with care.

          Using utterly shit sports like basketball as your point of reference is probably not a great plan, either.

          • pepperfez says:

            I was with you up until the last sentence, but now it’s pistols at dawn.

            And he’s full of shit about basketball, anyway: If a ref hears an obscene insult, they’re probably handing out a technical. That Matt fucking Barnes is held to higher standards of behavior than professional gamers is pretty disgraceful.

          • Abndn says:

            Yeah because official games with referees are all that is ever played in basketball. Please. If you have that thin of a skin you won’t even be able to play mixes. You’ll never see a professional game.

        • EhexT says:

          “Have you even played a sport? Have you even *watched* sports? In real sports insults run rampant, and many of the top athletes are mad trash talkers and often quite horrible even to teammates (Michael Jordan was a great example of this)”

          All you’re doing is providing good examples of why Basketball isn’t a real sport. In actual proper big sports, you know, the ones played more people than just US americans, insults net you fines at best. Odds are you’re not gonna play the next couple of matches if you insult your opponent to any serious degree, especially in earshot of a referee. Which is exactly as it should be – if you can’t keep your mouth in check you have no place on the big stage whatsoever.

          • pepperfez says:

            What’s with you people? Basketball is played everywhere (not like football, but what is) and is no more lawless than any professional team sport. If an NBA player tried to get away with the stuff we’re talking about here he’d be paying out half his salary in fines.

      • Text_Fish says:

        I think the point he’s rather clumsily making is that “insults” are a general problem in eSports rather than just a problem for women.

        • Gibs says:

          Nope, it’s usually just banter.

          Occasionally insults thrown in the heat of the moment, but those are common wherever humans are.

          • LexW1 says:

            Ah “just banter”! The classic British defence for ANY completely unacceptable and disgusting behaviour even vaguely related to work or sports.

            Wild racism? “Just banter!”. Vile insults which show you’re basically subhuman yourself? “Just banter!”. Hardcore misogyny? “Just banter!”.

          • LexW1 says:

            Also, insults are not “common wherever humans are”, they’re common wherever emotions are high and expectations are non-existent. If there was an expectation of decent behaviour, and real consequences for not engaging in it, they’d be rarer.

            Everywhere else? They’re pretty rare.

          • Text_Fish says:

            Yeah, bants mate! Cheeky nandos? Crackin’.

            Except not everybody interprets “bants” in the same way, do they? To some of us, it just comes across as toxic, unnecessary and unwelcoming.

          • Gibs says:

            Insults just happen regardless or the level of civility/education. Ironically, I’m looking at your post LexW1, there has to be an insult in there somewhere for me and my bants mates eh?

            And banter also happens, specially in teams and specially between young men which is what hardcore gamers usually are and pros begin as.

            On the other hand Text_Fish is right, some people are touchy. Thus not all environments are meant for everybody. Say I don’t like punching people, I obviously don’t go play hokey, I go play football where I can kick shinbones to my heart’s content instead.

          • Text_Fish says:

            Gibs, the point is that the environment can and should be changed for people who enjoy the game but not the banter, the latter of which is not actually a part of the game itself, but as you rightly pointed out, a symptom of a very partisan community.

        • Hitchslapped says:

          Yes that is pretty much the point I was so “clumsily” making. There are many sports where insults are a common thing, especially when nobody is looking and LANs have a particularly high rate of insults among gamers. My role at those LANs over the last view years has been to organise and supervise the tournaments. There have been countless CS players coming to my desk complaining about others having minor config tweaks and stuff like that. Not once was there a guy complaining about being called a f*ggot for the 20th time saying he did not feel welcomed although this is a rather regular “insult” (since being gay is hardly a bad thing I put the insult in quotation marks). I’m not saying this is a good thing. I’m just saying that it’s pretty common and not just an issue with female gamers. The difference is that male gamers don’t seem to care very much and why would you? Some random idiot calls me names through voice chat or shouts them through the hall. So what?? How miserable would my life be if silly stuff like that would actually get to me.

          • Text_Fish says:

            The “clumsy” comes in where you admit that the attitude is the problem, but then go on some odd tangent and end up claiming that women are actually the problem because they won’t just put up with it the same way men will.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            Then you didn’t get my point because I never said the insults are a problem. They are common but hardly a problem for any male gamers I’ve encountered because they seem to realise that it’s just stupid banter. Men get called gender specific terms like motherfucker and shrug it off. In all seriousness how can you get hurt by some insult from a stranger. Those guys don’t know whether or not I’m fucking my mother just as much as they don’t know whether or not those female pro teams are a bunch of bitches. If some idiot calls me names I shake my head and chuckle a little because it’s just so damn silly but that’s about it. Who cares?

          • Xerophyte says:

            Good on you for having thick skin, but the idea of a professional environment where people shouting “faggot” at oneanother is seen as a commonplace occurrence that should just be shrugged off is fucking horrifying to — I hope — most people.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            That may be the case but it surely isn’t a sexist environment. In a place where everybody gets treated the same shitty way you can’t stand up and say “but what about the poor women?”.

          • Text_Fish says:

            I’m a male gamer and I’ve endured facile smack-talk online for the last 20 years or so. I have a pretty thick skin, but I’m not arrogant enough to assume that just because it doesn’t both me, it shouldn’t bother other people. I put up with it because there’s no counter-argument you can make to a moron, but it still pisses me off because I would prefer the company I keep and the hobbies I indulge in to be welcoming to new or “thin skinned” people. People who view smack-talk as a legitimate way to gain an edge in any sport clearly have some pretty deep insecurities when it comes to their own ability.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            Don’t you see that this isn’t the point here. This isn’t about whether or not insults have to be put up with. This is about sexism and it’s hardly sexism when both genders get treated exactly he same way when it comes to being insulted.
            People should stop shouting sexism everytime something bad happens to a women. The exact same shit happens to men and nobody gives a damn.

          • Text_Fish says:

            Oh I completely agree that most smack-talk isn’t the result of sexism. The comment I take issue with is “maybe there’s a reason why women aren’t doing that well in gaming. It’s called being thin-skinned.”. I’d say that was a pretty sweeping sexist remark, although as previously stated, I think that comes down to clumsiness on your part than any real malice.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            How would that be sexist :D :D ??? The female gamers themselves stated that stuff like that prevents female gamers from coming to those events. That is rather thin-skinned. Football players get bottles thrown at them or a year or so ago there was an incident where some black player (Don’t know his name since I’m not a football fan) got bananas thrown at him. He even picked one up and ate it. None of them said afterwards “Ehm… I might consider not playing football anymore because everyone is so mean”. YES IT’S A HORRIBLE THING TO DO but if you can not deal with that stuff than professional sports might, as of right now, not be the perfect job for you because you have to keep your performance up under any circumstances.
            Is the brainwashing that far ahead that everything slighty negative is sexism nowadays if it’s targeted against women.

          • Abndn says:

            Not sure why people are struggling so hard with the obvious point here. The rules don’t matter, your rights don’t matter, your opinion of what is right does not matter. If you can’t look past all those things, grow a thick skin and cope with the insults thrown your way, you will not succeed in e-sports or in regular sports. This is the harsh reality of the situation that both men and women must face.

          • Lanfranc says:

            @Hitchslapped: The banana-incident happened to Dani Alves from Barcelona. But the point isn’t that he has thick skin (though he probably has) – the fan that threw it was banned for life, and his club, Villarreal, was fined £10000 because of it. Other professional sports don’t just shrug and tell their players to deal with it; they have quite strict sanctions regimes to try and address or ideally prevent that kind of nonsense, and there’s no reason or excuse why e-sports shouldn’t do the same.

          • Otto says:

            @Lanfranc: Once again, I feel like a lot of people are skipping over the point Hitchslapped has been trying to make, it is NOT about letting sports organizations accept players being crude to each other, it is about the kind of articles that present women as being disproportionately mistreated and insulted in the eSports scene. Whether or not this is one of those articles or whether women really are insulted more at competitive shooter sports, I don’t know, I just wanted to clarify that his point was more in line with questioning the integrity of the article and people seemed to ignore it.

    • KevinLew says:

      So in other words, since the world is a cruel place, everybody should just be a giant scumbag to each other at every opportunity. It’ll toughen everybody up for the hardships of life.

      Or maybe you’re saying that there’s no such thing as toxic behavior in video gaming, because being a total dick is part of its culture. Companies like Valve and Riot Games should stop trying to limit it, because video gaming is all about acting like a total douchebag.

      • Abndn says:

        Regardless of what efforts companies put in to limit ‘bad behaviour’, it’ll still be pretty common. League of Legends solo queue is pretty much hell on earth and Riot is super keen on improving behaviour. If being called a bitch upsets you, your skin is nowhere near thick enough to survive the mixes and pickup games that are required to make you a good player (this applies to both e-sports and regular sports and has nothing to do with gender).

        • Synesthesia says:

          Well, gee, thank god you told us. Shut everything down, fellas!

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          “Regardless of what efforts companies put in to limit ‘bad behaviour’, it’ll still be pretty common.”

          So you’re saying that if we can improve but not completely eliminate a problem, then we shouldn’t improve it but ignore it instead.


          • Abndn says:

            No, you and your genius friend need to take reading lessons. Let me break it down for you.

            1. Some companies try very hard.
            2. Their success has been limited; insults are still common.
            3. To survive pickup games, matchmaking, mixes and scrims you must have a thick skin, because you will be insulted repeatedly for your mistakes.
            4. If you are a woman who can’t deal with being called a bitch at a LAN, you are thin-skinned.
            5. See 3.

            This shouldn’t be tough to grasp. We can keep trying to improve things, but to some extent you gotta deal with the world as it is.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I don’t know, of course, but I’d imagine that a lot of women would like their biggest passion to be free of the bigotry that they experience elsewhere. If most men tolerate/enjoy being insulted ‘on the pitch’ it’s probably because they know they’re relatively safe off it.

          • Cederic says:

            That’s total nonsense. In the UK and the US men are far more likely to be victims of a violent crime than women.

            They’re also far more likely to be screwed over by the legal system, assumed to be the aggressor in any domestic affray and in the US given no chance at college to defend themselves against a false rape accusation.

            As a man I’d love to avoid the bigotry of being called a creep for daring to ask a woman out while not looking like Brad Pitt.

        • Brinx says:

          Oh, I agree that you have to be thick-skinned to play professional sports, especially because of media coverage and fan criticism of you/your team/your performance. Having to put up with (sexist) insults shouldn’t be part of it however. Not in sports, not anywhere.

        • LexW1 says:

          Racism has dramatically decreased in sports since it became unacceptable.

          Pretending that nothing can be done is classic gamer apathy of the absolute worst kind. It’s attitudes like that that meant that the n-word and “jew” were popular insults in half the online games in the world for a long time. You might not say them yourself, but you thought it was just fine when others did, and never complained or told anyone off for it.

          In short – your attitude why these things are slow to change – you are a direct cause of the problems.

          • Abndn says:

            I am not claiming that nothing can be changed, I am telling you how the world is and telling you that to succeed you must deal with that rather than some magical fantasy land where everything has already been changed to perfection. Stop putting words in my mouth.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Yeah just like how black people should just grew thick skins and not complain when people call them ‘niggers’.

    • snowgim says:

      It’s a circular problem. Women in gaming may “appear” to be thin skinned because they’re nearly always in a minority (You try being thick-skinned with a room full of women laughing at you).
      But the reason they’re a minority is because less women get into competitive gaming because of the abusive atmosphere which is because they’re a minority. And around it goes.

      I guess segregating genders is probably an ok solution for the moment, since it encourages more women to play. If there’s an equal number of male and female players it becomes much easier to shrug off insults, because you know that at least half the players are on your side.
      Then maybe it won’t be a problem, and we can all get along happily abusing each other. But until then it is actually hurting the sport.

      • Geebs says:

        Hit the nail on the head there. Insults are easier to shrug off if you don’t have some attribute which singles you out for more abuse, like being in a minority in a given setting.

        That said, when girls reach critical mass within e-sports I thoroughly expect the bullying to suddenly get much more accomplished.

        • montorsi says:

          Also tend to find men go above and beyond to be vulgar and creepy when insulting women, whereas they are just run-of-the-mill shitheads to each other.

    • GWOP says:

      It’s because of juvenile attitude like this most teenage girls don’t even bother turning on their mics in multiplayer.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Except calling a man a “bitch” isn’t really gendered, calling a woman a “bitch” is.

      I bet that making racist remarks would have the same effect, and wouldn’t be tolerated at tournaments.

      You’re missing giant scoops of context here. Looking at your username, you likely just created this account to troll I suppose.

      • Jediben says:

        Of course it’s gendered. A direct comparison of the target to the negative stereotype of bring a female dog is directly intended to call into doubt the target’s masculinity. If we replace the word with ‘Cock’, can it be used against women with impunity because it has nothing to do with females?

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Mate it’s pretty obvious why using the word ‘bitch’ as an insult is denegrating to women whether or not it is used to insult a woman or a man. in both cases it supposes that there is something lesser or inferior about being a woman.

          • Cederic says:

            That explains the vast number bumper stickers, badges and other paraphenalia bought by women to proclaim that they’re a bitch and proud of it.

            Sorry but it’s not sexism if the insults are levelled irrespective of gender. Fight against the culture of insulting people if you want, but stop pushing the gender politics agenda on this one.

            link to

          • pepperfez says:

            An agenda! How insidious!

          • jrodman says:

            Patterns of reclaiming nasty terms proves they were never nasty in the first place, and we can go on being nasty forever!

      • Hitchslapped says:

        My username is a reference to the late Christopher Hitchens and being “hitchslapped” was a term used when he made great rebuttal in a discussion.

        Second, I wasn’t comparing men being called a bitch to women being called a bitch, although the other commenter has already explained that it’s gendered for both. Men get called f*ggot at LANs all the time or here in Germany the word for c*cksucker is also still quite common at LANs. Those are also “gendered” and directed at men and men only. Sure this isn’t nice and I could do without it but nobody really cares. Calling women a bitch is sexism; calling men a dick, a cocksucker, a motherfucker, a scumbag, a creep … (all insults that are almost exclusively used for men) is just casual banter. How about not pulling out the sexism card every bloody day. Insults aren’t nice or polite, whether they are directed at men or women.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            I haven’t said that once. I get that you can’t follow a simple argument and therefore have to put words in my mouth. Sexism is in fact real but it doesn’t apply to situations where both sexes are treated equally bad.
            But since no female team ever had any success at a mixed tournament it stands to reason that maybe they are inferior in eSports just like they are inferior in almost any real sport. It’s not sexism if it’s true. And as long as female teams haven’t had any success against a male top team you can hardly blame people for not caring about lower-level pro teams.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            And by the way, have you even read that article by Christopher Hitchens? Are you honestly claiming that women are, on average, equally funny than men?

          • GWOP says:

            “Are you honestly claiming that women are, on average, equally funny than men?”

            What’s the sample size of your research?

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Are you claiming they’re not?

          • pennywyz says:

            That article is quite funny, and also pretty “equal opportunity” about any insults it dishes out, if you actually care to read it. Also, give it a rest with the sample size thing. You wouldn’t need a peer reviewed article to confirm that old people are in general are more crotchety, would you?

            I think it is interesting that articles about the lack of women in games seem to assume the number of women and men would be equal in pro-level gaming competition, if it weren’t for “society” mucking things up. Women may well be as good as men at competitive gaming, I have no proof either way, but can’t someone in games journalism even acknowledge the possibility women just might not be as good at pro-level gaming? Is it not even the slightest bit possible that the physical makeup of men, which is undeniably different (I did not say better, I said different) than women, could translate into success in gaming as it does in physical sports?

    • Jediben says:

      Well said, by a person who clearly has first hand experience on a larger scale than any of these individuals interviewed.

      • GWOP says:

        Yes, take the words of anonymous internet commenters over those of professional esport players because them wimmin, amiright?

        • Hitchslapped says:

          I wasn’t in any way doubting that those female gamers got insulted. I just said that male gamers get insulted at LANs a lot as well and those insults aren’t about their skill either. Nobody calls anyone a noob anymore and nobody says “Hahah you aim sucks”. When men insult men they call eachother a motherfucker, or a cocksucker (or the german equivalents for those terms). Those insults are almost exclusively used for men as well. But none of the male gamers seems to care that much. When insulting strangers people use the most obvious traits and gender is pretty obvious. Do you think some of those women would prefer to be called a “fat fuck”?? That works for both genders.
          Seriously though, men and women get insulted with gender-specific insults and it’s not sexism when it’s aimed against women and silly banter when aimed against men.

          • GWOP says:

            Y’know, I live in a third world country, and I got a fast enough internet speed relatively late, so most of my multiplayer experience have been in old-ass school computers playing DOOM 2 with my friends and at gaming cafes playing CoD 4 and CS with strangers for years.

            And no matter how heated those sessions got, nobody, and I mean nobody, ever verbally abused others. Muttered under their breaths, showed their exasperation, yelled out commands – but nobody ever insulted anyone who wasn’t their friend.

            It’s more than a little surprising to find grown-ass men having less sense of decorum than teenage shithead me. If you honestly believe that you can’t play a game without hurling juvenile abuse (at man or woman)… I might have to call your mum to take your keyboard away.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            Is it really that hard to get my bloody point. Reading comprehension is so going down the drain these days.
            I’m not saying that people insulting eachother is a good thing. All I was saying is that both men and women are being called gender specific names and when women are the target people start shouting sexism.
            To use an analogy: When a man and a woman enter a restaurant and both get punched in the face you can’t scream it’s sexism and the patriarchy don’t want women in restaurants.

          • GWOP says:

            “I’m not saying that people insulting each other is a good thing.”

            But you were arguing it’s an integral part of competitive gaming to do well.

            ” How can you expect to be taken seriously when you’re whining about being called a bitch at a bloody LAN… If you can’t handle stupid insults while gaming then maybe there’s a reason why women aren’t doing that well in gaming. It’s called being thin-skinned.”

            So it’s the responsibility of the one being insulted to grow a ‘thick skin’, as opposed to man-children growing the fuck up.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            Yes it is an integral part to be able to handle those kinds of behaviour. If stuff like this throws you off your game then that is a pretty huge problem. A firm state of mind is a necessity in professional sports or pretty much any higher position in any job.

            What would you say to a boxer who says after a fight he lost because in the pre-match interview the other boxer called him a weakling or a pussy? It’s pathetic

          • GWOP says:

            There’s a big gulf between not being able to play because of insults (which they aren’t claiming) and asking for a more inclusive environment (which they are asking for).

            As for your equal opportunity abuse… it’s been statistically proven that in similar circumstances women actually face more abuse than men. When Heather says “Generally the professional teams are incredibly supportive but amateur male teams or players can be incredibly abusive…”, it actually lines up with a research from the University of South Wales and Miami University. Bad players, due to fear of the loss of their place in the male hierarchy, are statistically more abusive towards women.

            Quote: ““As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.””

          • Hitchslapped says:

            @QWOP Let’s use the study you’re using then. The study only showed that the better a player gets the less likely he is to insult female gamers. For an overall perspective though I’ll give you a direct quote from that study:”Women are more likely to be harassed on social media, men during online gaming and in comments sectionts”

            The sample size and the way this study was conducted is total bullshit though but if you’re throwing that garbage at me I can just throw it back.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            Just on a side note: The study encountered the ASTONISHING amount of 11(ELEVEN) sexists.

          • GWOP says:

            Ah, the sample size argument.

            You keep fighting the hard fight for the toxic 13%.

          • Hitchslapped says:

            It’s hard not to mention the sample size if the actual number of people is even lower than the percentage number: Here 11 = 13%.
            Another thing to mention is that they didn’t even encounter any female gamers in those matches. They had to use a pre-recorded female voice to fake females. Nice study indeed

    • thedosbox says:

      Way to ignore the context of what these women have to deal with their entire lives.

      • Hitchslapped says:

        Yes, women have it so incredibly hard these days in the western world.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      Sounds like the kind of shitty LAN i used to avoid like the plague tbh.

  7. Dragen says:

    Great article, thanks!

    I’ve started watching CS:GO tournaments because of an article on RPS, and have actually become quite hooked. Its a pretty great e-sport! I have also tried to find some women or mixed-gender games to watch, but have had little luck so far.
    So the only thing missing in this article: anybody got a link to streams, or older matches up on youtube, that one can watch?

    • Jediben says:

      I don’t really understand why you need to SEE that the player’s are mixed gender anyway. The gaming screen looks the same regardless of who is sat at the desk. It’s not as if you focus on their face throughout the matches, or stare purely at the left hand. I can understand why the people matter in tennis or football because they interface directly with the sport (move on the pitch, rub down the track) but we are a whole layer removed. The GAME is the same no matter who is on the pc.

      • Dragen says:

        I don’t need to see that the teams are mixed or women-only, in fact I would be perfectly happy with spectator-cam and commentators only.
        I do, however, want to support these players – like this article mentions – by directing my awareness towards them, and the games they play.

        Basically I would like to watch some entertaining CS:GO matches. So far I’ve watched quite a lot of men-only battles, it would be quite alright if it was mixed up a little

  8. Jediben says:

    What this game needs is female player models, wearing appropriately revealing swimwear. That’s what they advertise in all the fashion magazines, so clearly it’s what sells. Vogue and Glamour magazine have readerships in the millions for a reason you know.

  9. davemaster1000 says:

    You can not be serious.

    There is no glass ceiling for female players. There never has been.

    Gaming is one of the most welcoming hobbyist cultures on the planet – I’ve been a professional gamer, and you want to know who excludes people of the opposite sex? “Female only clans/guilds”, which are even applauded. Male-only clans/guilds are considered blasphemy against your silly little left wing dream.

    This article is an embarrassment to your site, and an insult to the capable female gamers that get by very happily without injected rolemodels for the sake of quota.

    Shame on you for implying a toxicity that simply does not exist.

    *You* are the sickness.

    • Michael Anson says:

      Bravo, sir, bravo! A truly Swiftian satire of a post!

      …wait, are you being serious?


      Oh my.

      • Cederic says:

        Yes, but do you have any reasonable challenge to his points? Any? At all?

        There’s only one gender being excluded in these parts.

    • GWOP says:

      “Gaming is one of the most welcoming hobbyist cultures on the planet”

      It’s really hard to imagine you saying this with a straight face.

      • LexW1 says:

        Maybe he means welcoming to sexism and racism?

        Because I genuinely can’t think of a hobby where a larger proportion of the people involved think that’s “just okay”. I mean, in sports, insults are okay, but racist and sexist ones? They’re not. In gaming, they are. Even in ultra-hardcore pasty-male-nerd stuff like Games Workshop games, whilst people often have bananas views, they don’t think it’s “just okay” or “just part of the game” call engage in racist or sexist abuse.

        • GWOP says:

          Hey, when an esports coach claims that it would be “ethically wrong” to remove sexual harassment from the fighting game community…

          • pepperfez says:

            Fuckin’ Aris. I suppose it’s progress that he’s been pretty well marginalized as a community figure.

    • Niko says:

      An excellent piece of satire!

    • scannerbarkly says:

      Damn. I’ve been gaming for 30 years and never noticed this bit.

      “Gaming is one of the most welcoming hobbyist cultures on the planet”

  10. PsyX99 says:

    So for some people it’s ok if the people are insulting each other (oh, sorry. “Banter”… But is it banter if people feel insulted ?).

    Guys, it’s simple : trust women for a change. If they feel there is something utterly wrong with the community that mean there is. I can understand your reaction, it’s the same that most people feel toward feminism today : you don’t want to be the “bad guys” so you’re rejecting everything they say. And what do they say ? That some men are making their gaming life an hell, while the rest of them do nothing (or worse : tells you that it’s “banter”).

  11. Stellar Duck says:

    Some people in these comments make me happy I only ever played on servers that would kick for swearing back when I cared to play TF2.

    It seems there are a lot of tossers around so I gotta say, I’m happy we kicked them.

    • Cederic says:

      I’m sorry but I just don’t get this hatred for swearing. What the fuck is wrong with the word fuck? What sort of cunt can’t cope with it?

      I’ve told a friend off for using the word faggot as an insult while online gaming but if he calls someone “a stupid fucking imbecile that should’ve garrotted themselves before crawling out of their mothers fetid twat” then frankly I’m going to applaud his on-the-fly inventiveness.

      It’s called English. I speak it, you speak it, the words are part of the language so let me fucking use them.

  12. Xantonze says:

    What’s with the ISIS sign on the 1st picture? ;D

    link to

  13. harlock says:

    Some points about arguments here:

    – You Don’t Get To Tell People How They Feel

    That’s horrifying that we still have to say that. You either listen and try to understand or you completely disagree but you can’t judge people and say “it’s your fault, you’re weak”. That’s so not going to change anything. Bitch is attached to women, faggot is attached to gay people and nigger is attached to black people, historically. If you are a straight white guy using those as insults, you don’t have a thick skin and you don’t know shit.

    – The Women Only Trap

    It saddens me that we need them because of trolls and sexism. It saddens me that we need them to encourage women to play CS. Esports should be and have to be genre independent, why? Because we’re talking about keyboard and mouse, there are no physical barriers like sports.

    That is a core value here. No barriers, which also means no extra attention to women, no abuse, nothing. Just play and if you get killed by a cute blonde, it doesn’t matter. Just play! This weird binary vision “help women until they tell you to stop” or “abuse women until they tell you to stop” has to go!! Fuck.

    I want to see any kind of blend, a team of women crushing a men team, vice versa, Bonnie & Clyde teamwork with couples that are so good together we make shirts about them, I want to see that in a major and love every second of it. I watched 90% of the 2015 ESL and it’s scary how homogenous the scene is.

    I love CS, I watch an absurd amount of matches. I started on Beta fifteen years ago, playing with women and men and when they first started to segregate teams professionally I was already mad at that, it didn’t make sense at all. Over a decade later –which feels like a century-, we’re still at the same place but worse now because of expectations?

    It’s maddening.

  14. vegeta1998 says:

    They shouldn’t segregate men’s and women’s team because that’s actually sexist, this article is the problem not a solution.

    • jrodman says:

      Do you have any support for that view? Consider that many games segment their play by region. Is that xenophobic?

      I understand that women have no physiological disadvantage in esports, but I’m pretty sure the goal is quite the same as region segmentation. I don’t see how it creates a sexist atmosphere. Sure, some people may see the women as being inferior in their own league, but I rather think people bring that idea with them, rather than getting it from the segmentation.

      • Hitchslapped says:

        Actually there are quite a lot of studies that show that men tend to have a much better hand-eye coordination. I highly doubt this has no influence on their gaming performance.
        Why does it always have to be sexist when men are better at something. Women tend to have much better language skills. So what? As of right now there isn’t a single female team that can compete with a male team and until this isn’t the case anymore I’ll stick to my opinion that the non-existent female success in gaming has to do with skill and not sexism because no matter how bad the sexism might be, a good female team could win a mixed-tournament if their skill level was high enough. There are no rules preventing them from winning and no forced handicaps or something. I doubt sexist comments are holding them back from winning.

        • jrodman says:

          I don’t understand why you’re asking me why segmentation has to be sexist when I didn’t claim it does.

          Meanwhile, you may be right but I’ve read through some research summaries that suggests that specifically in some games there isn’t a meaningful game skill differentiation. Even if there were, most gender skill differentiations have shown a very small variance of gender bias as compared to the individual variance.

        • jrodman says:

          Meanwhile, your assumption that CURRENT success MUST not have a sexist component is somewhere between sexist or ignorant. Do you really have no idea how how social factors can guide people of different categories (race, sex, etc) down different channels?

          • Hitchslapped says:

            The segregation being sexist thing was more of a general statement aimed at majority of commenters here not you sepcifically.

            And about the success thing: The fact that not a single team has made it in that environment is a pretty good indicator that I’m right. We aren’t talking about women in the 60s trying to get a CEO job here. This is female gamers against some stupid kids. This is hardly the stuff for an inspiring underdog movie. I don’t doubt there are some sexist idiots in the gaming community but since the tournaments are skill based and the entry to those tournaments is in most cases skill based I strongly believe that a good enough female team would have made it even with some sexist gamers around.

          • jrodman says:

            You believe that a toxic community for women at low level of play will not have an effect in reducing the total number of women (both skilled and unskilled) who remain interested in play?

  15. SteamSkins says:

    Well done, girls!

  16. Ferno says:

    Good article. As a huge fan of CS I’m always looking for more good content to watch and this has a good discussion of the merits or downfalls of female only tournaments along with why they aren’t an attack on male players, as so many people seem to view them. I would have liked a few more links to channels which host said female tourneys etc. beyond the streamer and two interviewees. Unless I just missed that…