Earlier this morning we reported that the South Korea-based International eSports Federation (IeSF) had restricted women from competing in its Hearthstone competitions, and had separated men and women in all of its competitions. The IeSF had initially attempted to explain its decision as an attempt to simulataneously increase diversity and adhere to what it called "international standards" compared to other sports.
Now, after pressure from the gaming community, the IeSF has relented, allowing women to compete in all of its tournaments.
"On 2nd of July, 2014, the IeSF’s policy about gender division, which separates the female division and the male division, has been brought into question," began a statement on the IeSF website. "The IeSF has listened to the gaming community and has carefully considered their opinions. Upon hearing these concerns, the IeSF convoked an emergency session of the IeSF Board to respond.
"As a result, IeSF shall have two event categories: “Open for All” events and events that are reserved for women. The events which were initially set aside as the male division will now be open to all genders, and the events which were initially set as the female division will remain as they were."
According to the IeSF, the organisation intends to continue holding female only tournaments in an attempt to grow eSports amongst female players. Currently female players make up a minority of competitors, the IeSF sees female only tournaments as a way to promote female involvement in eSports.
"Female gamers make up half of the world’s gaming population, but only a small percentage of e-Sports competitors are women," the IeSF explained. "The IeSF’s female-only competitions aim to bring more diversity to competitive play by improving the representation of women at these events. Without efforts to improve representation, e-Sports can’t achieve true gender equality."
Now all of the IeSF's major tournaments are open to both men and women. This includes DOTA 2, Starcraft II, Ultra Street Fighter 4, Hearthstone and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Starcraft II and Tekken Tage Tournament 2 will retain additional female tournaments.