Article by Donna “Bag_Lady” Antonijevic
As the female Counter-Strike community blossoms, it’s hard not to notice some of the characteristic qualities of its development which parallel some of the general electronic sports expansions. The level of competition that has faced most of these teams over the last several months has increased to more cutthroat levels than normal. With more organizations and media becoming interested in the female gaming scene we have observed greater opportunities and experiences for lady gamers to partake in. These prospects have been pushing for females to do it on LAN locally, and now internationally, with the intention of creating a spectacle for the viewers.
Where do these teams find the motivation to continue performing against such a small group of competitors, consisting of roughly ten active women’s teams, where there is little to no benefit? As the pattern goes, Girls Got Game will remain on top of the North American female CS scene while the rest of us keep attempting to restructure, reform, and reproduce the needed amount of skill and clan unity to knock them down. As in the old days, will we soon see our best representatives move towards the opposition on the more international circuit? When you think of the most prominent, tournament winning female teams, these clans come to mind: Les Seules, Catz , EIBO , GX3 , as well as Team All 4 One . Is there something odd about the fact that most of these teams hail from outside the United States and Canada? Is it that the same demographic is simply not as serious as their international counterparts? Or is there some other conclusion to reach? In the past few weeks alone followers have seen the conclusions of the XPL online female Counter-Strike league, the web2zone female gaming tournament in New York City, and the Optihack female 1.6 competition in Sweden. In the upcoming months the Cyberathlete Professional League will co-host a female 1.6 tournament at the Barcelona World Tour Stop, Greece will be carrying out its own women’s tournament to represent the Mediterranean zone, Sweden will host a female division at the RixHack LAN event, and, perhaps most prestigious of all, the Electronic World Sports Cup organization will be inviting only the cream of the crop to attend it’s international event in the summer. All of these events offer teams the chance to enhance their status, as well as winning cash and prizes. The North American gaming scene has been very vocal in describing its distaste and disapproval for what are the beginnings of professional female electronic sports. The general opinion of gamers seems to view the female community as an active force that is segregating the sexes through incentive (such as cash, prizes and prestige), and therefore, not actually uniting gamers as a whole. Could the lack of enthusiasm and support be one of the reasons why North American female teams lag behind their European counterparts?
From the event listings above it must be duly noted that the majority of significant competitions will be held by, and solely open to, European gamers. Although it would be possible for a North American team to apply to participate in any of the online leagues (LOEW, ESL, LIGA, NGL), ping latency would not permit for an equal level of competition. This may not be considered so horrible since everyone loves a LAN tournament, right? But as most players, male and female, reading this article will already know, the chances of an intermediate level team and finding a company willing to sponsor them with thousands of dollars to cover the cost of travel and registration expenses it would take to attend a tournament in Europe or Asia is slim to none; yet, for female gaming this is where the true competition and cash opportunities lay. Let’s take a closer look at the web2zone Tournament this past January. With only five female teams in attendance, the prospects for developing a worthwhile prize pot were slim. First place winners Girls Got Game received $750 while second place winners Check Six Divas , were awarded $250. Fly across the Atlantic to Larisa, in Greece, where the first place winners of the female tournament will receive 3000 Euro dollars (approximately $4000 USD). The Larisa tournament has also had 18 local and international applicants apply to attend this tournament. Although web2zone ran a successful operation, to even attempt to compare the two events would be shameful. Let’s not even mention the $30 000 prize for the Female ESWC Masters Cup. The female players have taken notice.
Many teams have now begun to strive towards developing their LAN skills through local competition, playing with various teams that are not necessarily the ones they represent at said tournaments. Nowadays, the female clan does not have to be a force to reckon with; gaining status through climbing the online ladder, like CAL or CEVO, does not have to make or break teams. Girls Got Game has stayed true to their LAN tactics and remains North America’s top female representative. They have acquired media promotions and sponsorship because of the number of titles they have managed to acquire when they combine their efforts. Meanwhile, Ellegaming acquired an advance from CAL Intermediate to Main through networking, only to be demoted as part of CAL’s season 13 effort to clean up its hijacking problem. What do these two teams have in common? A good reputation among the general gaming population. In order to advance, to attain the best opportunities and network with the right people, players must maintain a good stature among certain groups of gamers who have the connections and can offer their opinions, referrals and guidance. Most of the players in Elle and GX3 can be considered, within the competitive circuit, as ‘household’ names in female gaming.
In order to step up the competition, will North American female gaming need to follow suit with the general gaming world and begin to broaden their horizons by challenging competitors from overseas? Will Check Six Divas be sponsored to fly out to CPL Barcelona’s Female tournament to battle against some of the Europe’s finest? Will Girls Got Game return to ESWC and place higher than their previous visit, and, finally, will all of this competition turn into nationalistic rivalry? Think Western hemisphere versus Eastern hemisphere, instead of the West coast pit against the East coast. Female gaming takes its experience and skill from the knowledge of the general community; therefore, will we begin to follow its social patterns? After all, a WEG catering to this spectrum of the sport would make for one controversial tournament full of hardcore gaming, gossip and of course, elite girls.