Women in Esports: Breaking Down the Barriers


For more than a decade, the esports industry has been steadily growing. It has gone from being a small-time, niche concept to a billion-dollar business boasting hundreds of millions of fans around the world – and it’s only getting bigger. However, despite this rampant growth, it’s only now that women are finding their fortune in the industry – and their representation. It’s time to stand up and recognise women in esports and appreciate that their time is well and truly here.

It’s a sad fact, but the concept of women competing in esports tournaments is little more than a joke to many hardcore esports enthusiasts. It has been estimated that there are more than 2.5 billion gamers on the planet – it’s a global, community-led entertainment medium that, demographically, features a split of around 60 – 40, in favour of male gamers. It’s no longer appropriate to believe that ‘girls can’t play games’.

They’re doing it – and they’re doing it competitively.

women in esports

Women in Esports – It Has Begun

If we look back just a few years, there are no female-led tournaments to be found. It’s a male-dominated landscape, and women are left standing on the sidelines without any kind of representation in the esports industry. Now, fast-forward to today, and great leaps have been made, with organisers, developers, publishers, and esports organisations all applying great effort to bring female competitors into the fold.

From the executive level to the ground-floor, aspiring competitors, women are being encouraged to step into roles that – once upon a time – they would have avoided. Over time, female-led esports events are becoming more common, meaning there’s more representation, and as a result, more role models for aspiring gamers to look up to. For the longest time, this male-dominated industry has intrigued and excited younger males, but now, it’s well and truly opening its doors to female gamers.

It was estimated that around 28% of all esports viewers in the United States are female – and that’s a growing figure. In the crowds at esports events, it’s all too easy to see female fans being just as vocal as male fans, and in the community, there’s a sense of sisterhood that exists to boost up those eager to learn the esports ropes.

The Growth of Female-Led Tournaments

women in esports g2 gozen

Image Credit: G2

There was nothing, and then there was something – and now, it’s all blowing up.

In 2022, the inaugural VALORANT Champions Tour: Game Changers Championship took place, with teams being made up exclusively of women and female-identifying competitors. It was a tournament that boasted a $500,000 prize pool and some of the world’s most recognisable esports organisations stepped up to field a team. It was the most-watched female esports event in 2022, and it laid the groundwork for future VALORANT events featuring women in esports.

It’s far from ending there, though.

Also in 2022, the ESL launched the ESL Impact League, a female Counter-Strike competition. It was another impressive effort, and once again, the top-tier organisations of the world saw fit to raise rosters that would compete against one another for a $500,000 prize pool. There are also ongoing discussions within Riot Games to found an all-female League of Legends competition, given the success of the VALORANT league.

Read More: HER Galaxy Woman's Apex Legends Event Announced

It gets better, though!

In March 2023, an all-new women-only Call of Duty league was founded by Allycat, a Call of Duty League caster and streamer. This remarkable effort was spearheaded by some of the most prominent female Call of Duty players, with barriers in arguably the most male-dominated community in gaming being shot to pieces. In the first season of ‘The WxC’, the champion team featured Kelsaroony, the first-ever female Call of Duty player to qualify for a Call of Duty League Challengers Elite event.

Work to be Done

There’s a lot of growth, but the work is far from being completed.

G2’s Gozen may lift an impressive trophy on a grand stage, ML:BB’s all-female tournament may pull in a peak viewership of 392,405 users, and there may be 23.76M hours of female-led esports tournaments watched during 2022, but there’s still work to be done. It’s no big secret that women are still seen as second-class citizens in the gaming industry by some. That’s why companies like Sky – in the United Kingdom – are launching campaigns to raise awareness of how women are treated in our modern gaming community.

As time goes on, the expectation is that women in esports will become a much more common topic. It’s also expected that, before long, it’ll be ‘business as usual’, and there will be a synergy between female-led and male-dominated tournaments and leagues. There will of course be those who oppose this movement and the growth of women in esports, but that’s the nature of the world – some people will always refuse to change their ways of thinking.

All that really matters is that women are securing their representation in the fast-growing esports industry, and to be honest, they’re absolutely smashing it.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login