Hearthstone Tournament: ‘No Girls Allowed’
The qualification requirements for players to participate in the Finnish Hearthstone International e-Sports Federation Qualifier tournament include a certain level of skill in Blizzard’s digital collectible card game, and the ability to play while also being male.
A Reddit user recently shared a photo of an announcement page that disclosed the requirements for the qualifier. This wouldn’t normally be news, but with female gamers making up 48 percent of the video game community, the exclusion seems strange at best, and certainly rings of a sexist vibe.
“Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only,” said Markus “Olodyn” Koskivirta, head administrator of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, in a statement to PC Gamer. “In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”
The IeSF is a global organization based out of South Korea that helps promote e-sport gaming around the world. It’s a noble idea, but the unnecessary segregation of male and female players seems to be contrary to how progressive they’re advertising themselves to be. According to the rules from their Facebook page, female players are not allowed to compete in Dota 2, Hearthstone or Ultra Street Fighter IV. Women have no problem playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and both genders can play Starcraft 2, just not in competition against one other.
So what’s the reason for taking such a backward position? Here’s the official response posted on the IeSF Facebook page:
“The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.”
So instead of actually responding with a real answer, we get a “canned” response instead. Given that the physical disparity between men and women isn’t relevant in e-sports the way it could be argued as being in physical professional sporting events, I cannot fathom as to the reason why the IeSF are so adamant about keeping the genders separate, other than assuming male players are too insecure handle being defeated by a woman.
To the credit of the Finnish eSports Federation, they are trying to remove the segregation issue;
As for Assembly Summer 2014, Koskivirta told us that all other tournaments were “open to all genders”. “We would also like to point out that the Finnish eSports Federation is currently lobbying for the equal rights of male and female players in the IeSF tournaments,” he said. “This is an ongoing process and we of course welcome any support in this matter.”
For an international organization that’s striving to make e-sports taken as seriously as other professional sport events, this rule certainly inhibits IeSF and e-sports from being recognized as a major player in the sports industry.