On Tuesday, DreamHack has announced that in an effort to create opportunities for aspiring female esports competitors, it will host a female Counter-Strike tournament as part of the upcoming Valencia event with $100,000 on offer.
DreamHack Showdown will be held from July 5-7 and will represent the “first large-scale collaboration” between the Swedish tournament organizer, ZOWIE and Esport-Management aimed to “elevate ambitious women CS:GO players in the global esports scene and provide a dedicated platform to support their professional growth.”
“This is the first time that an all-female event is getting the same terms and conditions that male players have,” Magnus Leppäniemi, Sales Director Brand Partnerships for DreamHack told Vie Esports. “This is not just a sideshow. It will be the main event at DreamHack Valencia, not something that happens on the second or third stage.”
Participating CS:GO players and teams will have access to dedicated player support, professional event facilities, practice rooms and promotion throughout the event. The tournament will have eight slots, two of which will be filled through invites. Esport-Management will run the European and North American online qualifiers on June 8-9, while ZOWIE will host the Asian qualifiers, which will culminate with a LAN stage in Shanghai from June 20-23.
In addition to that, DreamHack will be taking care of all the travel, lodging, and similar expenses for all the teams and players participating in the event.
“This is the first time that all-women tournament will have that center-focus as an all-male tournament would, and it’s not something that really happened before,” Leppäniemi added.
As one would expect, the announcement was met with varying levels of support to the initiative from the community. Some were happy to see women get the same level of recognition that male players do, others, however, were less than happy about it.
“Esports is one of the few sports where men and women can actually compete at the same level, but the focus has always been on the male teams. We wanted to provide a platform for all female players to compete. Because we know they are playing, but we wanted to offer them a safe environment to do that,” Leppäniemi said.
“We wanted to open them the same possibilities that male players get, offer the same access to competitive support. But at the same time, it was also about creating role models for up-and-coming female players to look up to.”
One of the biggest issues that DreamHack wanted to address with their Showdown event, was the differences in skill between the female players in the current environment.
“There are definitely women out there who can play at the highest level already but they can’t do it alone. We need more female players to come in and they need a platform that would let them do just that — start competing and get them out of their bedrooms and onto the main stage.”
According to Leppäniemi, helping the female scene grow was something that DreamHack wanted to do for a while. They recognized early on that in order for the scene to grow and for women to be able to stand on the same footing with their male counterparts, the female scene would need some help to get off the ground.
“We’ve been trying to find ways how to do this. DreamHack never was a male-only event, but at the same time, we never saw female teams qualify for it either. We don’t want to split them up but we feel that we have to start somewhere. It’s going to take a while but we’re going to build something here.”
More female events are in the books for DreamHack, Magnus Leppäniemi assured us, possibly even during this competitive season.
“This is just the first step but we’re in it for the long run with our partners Esport-Management and ZOWIE. We feel very strongly about it and we’re very passionate about this project too,” Leppäniemi continued. “This is not just one event in 2019, we have a whole plan. We want to see a longer commitment and more tournaments in the scene.”
According to Magnus Leppäniemi, public backlash and the potential drop in viewership is well within the expectations for the tournament organizer, but their promise to build something great here isn’t wavering. “We can build the storylines on the teams and the players and show everyone how good they are. It might take a while but we have to start somewhere and if the viewership is lower because of that it’s fine.”
Earlier today, DreamHack confirmed the two directly invited teams — Dignitas.female and Besiktas. Esport-Management will run the European and North American online qualifiers starting June 8th, where both qualifiers will have two slots at the main event up for grabs. All female teams can sign-up and participate for a chance to compete at DreamHack Valencia on the biggest stage.