In early August, esports organization Evil Geniuses (EG) announced the acquisition of the all-women Valorant roster from Dignitas. The roster remains unchanged as it switches ownership, and it marks a first for Evil Geniuses as the org’s first all-women team. EG had previously operated a mixed gender roster at the beginning of 2021.
EG has become increasingly interested in growing its competitive Valorant presence and wants to put women front-and-center in that pursuit. No game in the esports sector has prioritized women like Valorant has. Riot has leveraged its hero shooter to promote gender equity in esports with its ongoing VCT Game Changers initiative.
The move to acquire its first-ever all-women esports team aligns with the values EG is promoting throughout its organization, CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson explained to The Washington Post. “We are lucky to have an authentic position in the women’s esports space,” she remarked. “The CEO of EG is a woman, over fifty percent of our managers and above such as directors, VPs and C-levels are also women.”
Doubling down on Valorant comes at an interesting time in the esport’s evolution, as The Washington Post notes that a number of esports organizations have been “quietly leaving the Valorant scene in what has been described as a mass exodus, citing mounting expenses and the brutally rigorous partnership process.” That said, Riot has been closely examining the future of Valorant esports and has already outlined numerous changes to the ecosystem that it intends to implement for 2023, including introducing more regional leagues and offering a long-term partnership model similar to LoL Esports but without any entry or franchise fee for participating teams.
Putting women in the spotlight is a smart move for any esports organization. Aside from promoting equal opportunity in professional play, forming more teams with female players makes sense because a growing number of esports viewers are women. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, in the US market, 34% of esports viewers identified as female in the first quarter of 2021. Just one year later, that figure has jumped to 40% of esports viewers.
Profitability in esports is challenging (even LoL Esports remains unprofitable), but broadening the audience is likely to attract a wider variety of brands as league/team sponsors. Building diverse rosters will play a key role in that effort.
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