For the 8th year in a row, over a dozen of the top DOTA 2 teams have competed at The International for a share of a million dollars or more ($24.5 million this year). With 16 countries and every populated continent represented, everyone in the world had a team to stand behind. As usual, however, there was a noticeable absence. Not a single woman took the stage.
As a member of the Stratz.com design team, I attended this year’s International in Vancouver. In addition to cheering on my favorite teams and basking in Dota greatness, I wanted to learn more about the many women who took part in the event. Among them were the Desoladies, an esports community that promotes opportunities for women, with a focus on DOTA 2.
One way that the Desoladies help women develop their DOTA 2 skills is by connecting them with each other to create a uniquely supportive competitive experience. This can be especially valuable in DOTA 2, where the already abundant trolling can be exacerbated when the predominantly male user base finds a woman within their ranks.
While this community supports members of all skill levels, several are active streamers, with some pursuing a career in esports. Hishiko is one such member, who’s on the all female Singaporean gaming team Asterisk. Her Divine 3 player rating is high enough to get her into matches with professionals like PSG-LGD’s xNova, a second place finisher at TI8.
Hishiko has been dominating her Lina matches recently, though has performed her best with Storm Spirit in the mid lane and Bounty Hunter as a roaming support. She has enjoyed an over 70% win rate with each.
However, in order to make a career out of playing Dota, one has to not only play extremely well, but enter tournaments and win in order to catch the eye of sponsors or team captains and managers who want you on their rosters.
Valve has the Battle Cup, which gives amateur leagues a shot at earning tournament points, but it’s extremely difficult to get any recognition if you don’t place first in your region.
The idea of women only tournaments and leagues in esports is a controversial one; most people believe that since esports don’t involve physical strength or speed, women should be able to compete at the same level as men.
While this is true, it’s also true that women and gaming have a fraught relationship. Many women are discouraged from pursuing gaming as more than a hobby, either by their parents, or by the gaming community in general. I think these women only tournaments and leagues are meant to foster a sense of community and confidence in women, and prove that they shouldn’t be pigeonholed as casual players that don’t have what it takes to compete at high levels.
In game one, no player on the winning side had an IMP (Individual match performance, average is 100) score below 143.
In game two, all of the match awards went to Minas club, and the MVP had an IMP score of 212. Both of these games were under 30 minutes long.
There is support out there. Join leagues. Join online communities like Female Dota 2 that holds tournaments and allows women of all regions to meet and discuss playing Dota 2 at a high level.
The stereotype of the girl gamer is slowly changing, and younger girls and women should not be ashamed of making gaming their career.
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart; I’ve worked in the video games industry on many levels for over a decade. My hope is that we at STRATZ can help not only women, but anyone at any level improve their game. It is my belief that anyone with aspirations to lift the aegis over their head in victory has all the opportunity in the world to do so, regardless of gender, with a little help from their friends.