UPDATE: The IeSF has changed their tournament policies so that all previously male-only events are now “open for all.” Read more about it here.
Original post follows:
Are you a gamer? Do you play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft? Do you live in Finland? Then you should totally enter Assembly Summer 2014’s Hearthstone tournament!
There’s a catch.
You can only enter if you are a Finnish male.
Finnish Assembly isn’t entirely to blame, though. According to Markus Koskivirta (username “Olodyn”), the head administrator of Assembly, they are only following rules set by the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF). Assembly’s tournament winner will receive €350 as well as a trip to the IeSF World Championship 2014 and an entry into the IeSF’s Hearthstone tournament. Here’s the official statement from Assembly:
“To clarify the gender restriction rule, it is based on the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations. Since the IeSF World Championship Hearthstone tournament in Baku is male only, we can only accept male participants in the Finnish qualifier.”
Each year, the IeSF holds the World Championship. This year’s competition will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan, on November 12-17. The particular Hearthstone tournament that Assembly’s winner will be sent to is listed as male-only, although there are female-only tournaments for other games that will take place as well.
The IeSF’s justification for this separation between male and female tournaments is an “effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sport.” Most physical sports have two divisions—male and female—due to the physiological differences between the two genders. I don’t know about you, but doesn’t all of that physiological difference go away when the entirety of the tournament takes place in front of a computer screen?
Sure, women may have a different thought process than men, but that just amounts to different strategies of play. There are no distinct advantages to playing a game as one gender or another. I could maybe understand if they had the men’s and women’s tournaments playing the same games, but even those differ. And if I don’t actually specify what my gender is to the other online players, nobody’s going to know the difference.
One other thing I’m a little unsure of is why exactly Assembly can’t accept female players. Theoretically, couldn’t they accept both male and female and just send the winner to the proper tournament? Or they could host two different tournaments with the different divisions. No, it’s not entirely their fault that they did what they did, but they certainly could have addressed it better. Holding a men-only tournament and not offering anything for women that wish to participate is extremely degrading to the girl gaming community.
Here’s a list of the titles that will be played during the World Championship:
Men’s Division: DotA 2, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and Ultra Street Fighter IV
Women’s Division: StarCraft 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2
In response to all of the criticizm, the IeSF released a response via their Facebook page:
To all our fans and e-Sport enthusiasts,
In the last hours we have received lots of feedback from you regarding the IeSF 6th e-Sports World Championship, particularly regarding the male/female tournament division.
We want to thank you for your interest in e-Sports and for sharing your opinions. The e-Sports community opinion is always important to the IeSF.
Our top priority is to promote e-Sports in the best ways we can. We believe that listening is important, and we’re now collecting your opinions from the social media, and we will update soon.
Thanks for your patience!
I suppose a sort-of answer is better than nothing at all…
So what do you think? Should e-Sport tournaments be divided by gender? I certainly don’t!
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