All Women’s Valorant Tournament Takes Huge Step Towards Equality With Historic Prize Pool

It’s no secret that woman gamers face an uphill battle when it comes to competing in esports, and while a lot of inroads have been made to create a more inclusive environment, the community still has a long way to go before any sense of equality is achieved. With woman gamers sometimes getting harassed by their male counterparts during online gameplay, there are barriers to involvement for women.

If nothing else, esports and gaming in general has been a boy’s club for a very long time and again, while some progress has been made in changing that, it’s nowhere near where it should be. For example, esports is a billion-dollar industry that is showing signs of massive growth, but according to a study by Interpret, females only account for 30% of all esports viewers.

With all of this being said, esports took a giant leap towards better gender equality this month by hosting an all-women’s tournament dubbed FTW (For the women) showdown. The tournament was a collaboration between Comcast Spectator gaming, Nerd Street gamers, and Riot games, who all worked together to create a three-day Valorant tournament with a prize pool of 50,000 dollars.

“The Valorant team at Riot Games is 100 percent committed to fostering an inclusive environment for competition and creating safe opportunities for women to compete without fear of identity or gender-based harassment,” said Anna Donlon, executive producer of Valorant at Riot Games. “When the team learned about the For The Women Summer Showdown Valorant tournament … the decision to elevate the tournament to our existing Ignition Series tournament programming and up the prize pool stakes was easy.”

Believe it or not, the prize pool was the largest ever for an all-women’s esports tournament and over 100,000 viewers took to the internet to watch the event take place. The tournament took place over a three-day period in September and had gamers compete from the comfort of their own home for a chance at the historic prize pool.

Things didn’t start out that way however, as the original tournament was supposed to be a one-day event that featured a prize pool of 10,000 dollars. A week later, Valorant games expanded the tournament to a three-day event, raised the prize pool to its eventual historic amount and made the event a part of their Ignition series.

“While not a complete solution to the sexism in gaming, my favorite part about the [tournament] is the empowerment they provide women to take up the space they deserve both in game and in voice chat to achieve victory,” said Sgt. 1st Class Megan Lomonof, who serves as the esports operation manager for The United States Army esports team.

In the end, there is still a long road ahead when it comes to women’s equality in the esports world, but the all-female Valorant tournament was a great step in that direction. Beyond that, the viewership that the event racked up is proof that there is some level of interest in watching female esports, which should be a very promising sign going forward.