Women Now Allowed To Compete In IeSF eSports Competitions

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.


    but how can they have female only tournaments, thats just as sexist as male only.

    proof that once again sexism is only bad when its against women.

    Last edited 03/07/14 3:50 pm

      This idea is just as sexist, but just in the opposite, and invisible, direction.

      Keeping female in their own special section while dismantling the "male only" section of the competition is considered "equality" because in today's society, only female is equal, male is evil.

        That's ridiculous.

        If anything it patronises women.

          I agree with that too. However, the idea of sexism goes both directions. It's just socially acceptable that when it's sexism against males, it's not as much of a "big deal".

          The best idea should have been to remove BOTH gender divisions and just have one open tournament. But instead we've swung things in the opposite direction

            while I understand the reasoning around female only tournaments. (to get more females involved and visible in the pro gaming scene) I think its funny the huge reaction to there being a male only tournament when there is no noise around the female only one.

            I agree. That would totally have been the best decision.

              It's only the best decision if both genders are equally represented (which they aren't). See my long post below about how this works in other sports.

              Last edited 03/07/14 4:23 pm

            Are authors even allowed to acknowledge sexism, demonisation and generalisation can be committed against males, though? I mean, you have some decent scrutiny there which follows the generally accepted definition of rational thinking and common sense but as obvious as that is, i haven't read or heard any of the games media acknowledge this. I'm struggling to understand if people even understand what generalisation is. I've heard authors on this very site refer to ALL male gamers as "bros" in a derogatory manner and make assumptions that men are ALL only too happy to accept muscle-bound morons and war-worshippers as role models. That these representations of masculinity are seen as apt by many people is telling. I find that no matter how much i state that i am in full support of men and women playing and competing together equally, that more female perspectives and increased consideration should be implemented; i would still be LABELLED (labelling, i thought, was bad as well) sexist if i were to ever have the gall to ASK why unfair generalisations were made.

            I'm willing to accept ignorance on my part, i just genuinely want to know why the specific definitions of generalisation, demonisation and labelling don't apply in certain cases. I believe in modeling behaviour and i simply can't accept that myself and others just sit here in bewilderment when our representations are attacked, at times unfairly, and we're all discouraged from scrutinising any part of the argument for fear of being labelled. No doubt this will be dismissed just like evey time someone asks for acknowledgement on the issue. It's just hard to show support constantly when it feels like empathy seemingly isn't valued when it's pointed in a particular direction. Shouldn't ALL of these things be valued in ALL directions? When we ask for better scrutiny are we just again labelled as "part of the problem" and swept away?

            Last edited 03/07/14 8:04 pm

        Can't believe you get downvoted for pointing out reality. If you want gender equality it has to go both ways or your just creating more gender inequality ...

        I understand why the female only competitions exist, but to say that a male only competition is sexist, but a female only comp is not, that's pretty close to full retard....

        Last edited 03/07/14 5:08 pm

      What? No. That's not what's happening here.

      They already had female only events. They are now continuing to have female only events. Males can still compete in those same games in open events. But no, fuck them for trying to provide an entry point for females into a male dominated competition, right?

        so your saying its okay to have an event that excludes males but not one that excludes females?

        there are plenty of other tournaments out there which don't restrict by gender at all.

        Last edited 03/07/14 4:03 pm

          Yes, because “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.”. Doing nothing to aim to correct existing gender imbalance is sexist.

            "Doing nothing to aim to correct existing gender imbalance is sexist."

            That's not really true. I guess it depends on your definition of sexism. Personally I would say that affirmative action is explicitly sexist/racist/etc. I'm just not sure it's a bad thing.

              Problem for average Joe/Josephine is that if they accept that premise then they must also accept that positive descrimination is just another form of racism. Most people want to ignore that because it makes the issue too complex to put in black and white terms.

              Anything beyond black and white/good and bad is too much to analyse in a 30 second sitting, which places it outside of the attention span you would expect from said average Joe/josephine.

          Its to promote among females not to restrict males. lots of other sports have "open" and "womens" comps

          Generally these events exclude males not because of some skill or ability imbalance but to provide an environment where women can feel more comfortable, safe and participate without being harassed.

          In an open competition you don't get that additional security. Which is now completely up to the women to choose.

          On a side note, I wonder if female dominated sports like netball or something like that have the opposite problem. Do they have "Open" and "Mens" versions of events?

            by that same logic could you say the male only tourney was to promote among males not restrict females? but people don't, they scream and shout and call it sexist.

            Last edited 03/07/14 4:51 pm

              Only because it's a male dominated industry/sport

              It's perfectly logical for the minority to receive special treatment in an effort to reduce discrimination.
              The discrimination comes from the inequality of numbers not anything else. In a situation such as gaming where physical attributes don't matter it's all about evening the numbers.
              Having male only competitions don't even the numbers thus more promotion for women is needed. If women only comps achieve that, then cool!

              "Open" is there to stop discrimination, "Women's" is there to promote. I'm not sure what's so hard to understand about that. Think of something that's female dominated (be it a sport or clothing or activity) and think of how to promote it to men.... it's exactly the same thing, to promote to a minority you have to cater to that minority.

              Would it be sexist to give females free entry into a tournament for example? Yes, technically it is, but it's also a great way to promote something and get that increased participation. People need to be part of the solution not the problem.

                regardless of the reasoning its still sexist to exclude someone from entering a tournament based on their Sex, I understand that by having a female only tournament will increase female participation, it kind of has to.

                  That's like saying it's discrimination by restricting children's sports to certain age groups... there's a reason for it, and it's not to be sexist (or ageist).

                  Exclusion =/= discrimination it's not that black and white

      Stolen from another thread but it sums it up nicely:

      Its about promotion. Men already dominate eSports, creating a separate division just for men isn't bringing anyone new into the sport, its actually excluding potential players from the sport.

      Open tournaments are better. However, because eSports are male dominated, its still very difficult for women to break into the scene. If 90 out of a 100 competitors are men, that's going to mean the tournament is effectively all men.

      Open tournaments combined with a women's only tournament offer the greatest potential to open up the hobby. New women players have a division they can participate in without being lost in the noise. Experienced women players still have the opportunity to succeed.

      Then, eventually, when the sport reaches rough parity, you cancel the women's tournaments and you just have the open tournaments. Or you introduce new tournaments for different age brackets and what have you.

      Its also why you'll find dance classes that are men only too. The idea is to bring these hobbies into gender/race/class parity so they reach the widest audience they can and are, therefore, as profitable as they can be.

      Last edited 03/07/14 5:07 pm

    Ok I can see why they decided to change their minds but you can't go from one extreme to another.

    Having a men's only competition was never the issue, it was the reasons behind it. All this will serve to do is make the already extreme feminist and anti feminist bitch fights even worse.

    Having to hear each side play the wounded animal is already annoying enough to hear.

    Last edited 03/07/14 3:52 pm

    i can see the flames in Anita Sarkeesian's eyes from here..

      why? This is considered a victory in her eyes.

        No, Anita's entire career depends on there being conflict. She purposefully seeks it out and plays it up. Having equality or female bias is bad business for her.
        Don't get me wrong, she makes valid points in her videos, it's just her motives I dislike.

        The extreme feminism and extreme anti feminism camps feed off each other, portray the image of being the only two sides and sadly get more publicity than those who seek serious discussion and change.

        Last edited 03/07/14 4:32 pm

          This fictional version of Anita Sarkeesian you've described seems like a really horrible person.

            It's not fictional.
            I watched a number of her seminars and appearances which are easily found. She contradicts her own claims and generalises all male gamers as some kind of evil woman hating community.
            She claims that she is being attacked by the industry when respectable sites constructively review her work and practices. She stole artwork from a female artist and ignored her requests for credit while her manager made snide comments about fair use. Eventually they back peddled when the artist requested proof of their non profit status and made no attempt to apologise.

            Like I said, I don't dislike her or her videos but there are far more respectable people out there doing it for the right reasons

        Because this is not equality, which she apparently fights for. Having a mixed open tournament and leaving it at that is equality.

        I don't overly like Anita and her arguments as she tends to blow certain situations out of proportion. I can just see her possibly getting bent out of shape with having a female only, and no male only, as this is still separating sexes in an event that isn't necessary.

        Though by the recent events that have unfolded it just shows she does have a point in certain aspects about gender equality.

        I still dislike her though..

    I would have thought the simple solution would be to just have everyone play everything, together, competing on their own merit. Now it seems even more convoluted.

      but when they do that females are under represented.

        Why does that matter? They're all just contestants. That would be like saying Africans are under-represented, or over-25's are under-represented.

    I am curious what (if any) differences there would be in trash talk in male-only, mixed, and female only gaming competitions. Would it be a sliding scale, radically different, or all the same?

      From experience (both watching professional esports and from local tourney's) - same, yet different. Women give as good as they get, but often are more witty and less sweary.

      Just as crude and vulgar though. It seems to put the men off when they do that. Which is always funny.

      In my experience women can trash talk just as well as the guys. Sometimes you do have to watch out of that time of the month though... it can get unintentionally nasty very quickly (for both sides).

      Last edited 03/07/14 5:09 pm

    8Ball and snooker already do this.
    Open, Women's, Juniors and Masters.
    It's not about segregation, it's about trying to pull more women into the competitive scene.
    Even my local Tuesday night pool league only has about 15-20% women. And this is a perfect example of a sport where physical strength or agility or whatever doesn't matter.

    Funnily enough we actually had a similar argument about this sort of thing within the pool league. Someone proposed that women should get a "best woman" player award at the end of the season in each division in addition to "best player". Except that the higher divisions (premiers and 1st div) have probably about 5 women in them. The female that proposed the change claimed it was better for women that way, the rest of us felt that it just further separated them in a sport where no such separation occurs.

    At a tournament level the split is pretty similar 20% of women players play in the Open division, the others play in the women's comps.
    I haven't heard anyone (from either side) give a good reason as to why. Usually it's just because "the women's comp is easier than the open" ... which is a bit of a cop out anyway isn't it?

    At the end of the day, there's no reason why women can't have the same level of skill in this sport as men. Same goes for gaming.

    I actually applaud the IeSF for listening to the public and reacting so quickly. They brought it in line with other sports (I'll have to check if things like chess are still stuck in the past).
    I don't mind having a women's only comp as well to further promote the sport. Clearly something needs to be done to increase female participation.

    EDIT: even golf which is far more physical has an Open and Womens comp.... guess what, there are no women in the Open comp.

    Last edited 03/07/14 4:14 pm

    I'm glad they have listened to the community here bit they should have either created an open tournament and kept the single gender comps. or merged the single gender comps. into one tournament, not this open and women's set up...

    ....and this is what happens when society is driven by the distinction of gender...alas I think we are a long way from equality between genders (and non genders).

    Challenge for the day:
    ask your bank to remove the title from your name in all correspondence and all your records.
    It's not gender, it's just a title, it's not required for any purpose whatsoever, yet it so powerfully places you in a box that they don't want to take you out of.

    I think having just a single, mixed tournament only makes sense in a world where the gender ratio at the top level is already 50:50 or close to it. Whenever there is an imbalance, the ratio will progressively skew towards one gender being dominant. So in my opinion having an open tournament and a female-only tournament is the right way to go. The open tournament will still be extremely male-dominated, but the organisers can get away with having what is essentially a male tournament without calling it such.

    You can't pretend these tournaments exist in an alternate reality where an environment that is 95% male and 5% female produces a comfortable situation for all participants involved.

      Well said.
      That's exactly how this works.
      When participation is 50-50 then you can do away with the Women's comp.

    the issue would be the fact that a female could not compete in hearthstone in iesf competition at all.

    this change opens it up so that females can compete in DOTA 2, Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Hearthstone.
    males could always compete in iesf sc2 and tekken tag competitions open comps

    Why don't they have three events? Male only, female only, and mixed, all involving the exact same games? Wouldn't that please everyone? The IeSF would still be keeping in line with the eSport guidelines while also catering to everyone and not excluding anyone. Problem solved and everyone's happy.

      That just further dilutes the player pool. You'll have players entering the Open comp just so they don't have to play against the better players in their respective gender groups (or vice versa). I can't think of any other sport that does it this way. And if it does... the "Open or Mixed" is not the premier category.

      Last edited 03/07/14 5:09 pm

      because then they still have a male only event and having that is Sexist.

    Probably the right choice, have the minority tournament where new players can feel safe from discrimination, then once they feel confident they can play in the real tournament.

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