The last few years in the world of esports has had a huge impact as the industry and gaming genre continue to grow – a bigger shift toward a more recognizable form of professionalism is being seen too as bigger franchises have become more involved leading to an industry that is starting to replicate a more traditional sporting appearance. There is still one big difference, however, and that is seen in the competition between male and female players – in traditional sporting leagues are largely separated due to physicality and fairness, but in esports these same factors may not contribute. There is still a disparity however, but what steps may need to be taken for a more inclusive esports, and what is currently holding progression back?
There have been a number of bigger leagues dedicated to female only teams, as well as a few examples of these female only teams making it onto the stage with the other, primarily male teams – these are often much underrepresented however as even third party services such as online esports betting tend not to offer odds on these specific leagues, there are some that do and you can find them here but they’re few and far between often as these leagues are becoming less common. The biggest change came a few years ago as back in 2018 the Overwatch League as the Shanghai Dragons signed its first female player into its mixed team, and also the first mixed team in the professional esports scene on the main stage.
The lack of diversity isn’t a lack of skill or ability to play as has been seen with the pickup in the Overwatch League, but largely a lack of interested players who are able to make it to the top level. Female players still make up a very small portion of online gamers – the biggest game in the world, League of Legends, suggests an active 4.2 million daily players with bigger games like this being much less represented amongst female players, numbers are certainly changing however as gaming in general has become more even or often a little more unbalance, it has recently been suggested that over 50% of all players in mobile gaming are female players which may lead to adjustments in other areas such as esports.
As many of the big titles continue their push for more diversity and more inclusivity, and the growth of streaming allowing players to become more well known, it may not be long until we see many more mixed teams participating at the highest level – with more opportunities to show ability and no rule set or limiting factor to prevent teams from having a mixed approach to their players, many more talented players regardless of background or gender are starting to be noticed, with many now signing contracts to bigger orgs. It’s a time of change for the sport with growing inclusivity, and may truly be the first sport that allows equal inclusive opportunities, for all players who take part in the growing number of games available.