In case you didn’t know, that mid-week holiday you enjoyed on August 9th was a day focused on celebrating the women of the world. But Mettlestate and Sam Wright from Tech Girl took it to the next level a few days early by hosting the wildly-popular Valkyrie Challenge CS:GO LAN event, featuring two of South Africa’s top all-female CS:GO teams and the largest-ever prize pool for a local female CS:GO event.
It’s safe to say the Valkyrie Challenge was a roaring success, with Sam Wright from Tech Girl worrying about struggling to fit all the spectators into the Evetech studio.
“In less than a week the live studio space was fully booked by fans. In fact, we were stressing that there would be too many people at Evetech, which I think speaks multitudes about the strength of standalone Esports events in South Africa.”
During the live event, hosted at the Evetech studio, Energy Esports Finesse defeated their rivals Amaryllis Gaming 3-0 to walk away with the sizeable paycheck. (GLHF: They were literally given a large paycheck. Which is awesome.) We chatted to one of the victorious eN.Fe ladies, Christin ‘Christin’ Meistre and got her thoughts on ladies-only events, what we can do to build the scene, and dealing with stupid boys online.
“On the day, the support was FAR beyond anything I could ever imagine. Having people driving for over 2-3 hours just to come watch us play in the studio meant the world to us as players.
Even more mind-blowing was finding out that #ValkyrieZA was trending on Twitter for longer than 10 hours, with over 3,500 people talking about it, even while the rugby was on.
It was so overwhelming that people could come together to make such an amazing event happen, just to showcase the ability of female CS:GO players in South Africa. It made me feel that finally all the long hours, hard work, verbal abuse and many lost games were all worth it to even have this opportunity.”
Speaking of verbal abuse, there’s something we’ve always wanted to know. Male gamers can be, well, a bit pig-headed (GLHF: That’s a euphemism for assholes.) when they realise they’re gaming with a woman. Reactions can range from surprise and delight to insults and derogatory remarks. So, just how bad is it?
“I won’t lie, I have been playing for quite a while now and when I first started it was literally unplayable.”
Alright, we probably could’ve guessed as much. We’ve come across many undesirable characters online, and we’re three dudes with deep, gravelly, super manly voices, so we have it easy.
“I would speak once and the word would spread, and suddenly every server I joined I would be harassed or verbally abused to the point where I have completely sold my entire computer and setup to get away from it.
Because of how I grew up with every male figure in my life treating me like gold, it was very shocking to hear many unrepeatable things said to me by little 12-year-olds. Later I grew tough to it, with many guys apologising later saying that they swore at me because CS is an emotional game, and as soon as you tilt your opposition, you win.
But, with that said, I would like to say that no, it is not as bad as you imagine. Recently the internet has produced some real sweethearts and the abuse has stopped in general. No, I am not saying it doesn’t exist still, but it is far less than it was and that is a step in the right direction.”
While the prevalence of sexist douchebags online is disappointing to hear about, it is good to also learn that it’s not quite as widespread as it used to be. Hopefully this trend of sweethearts continues, and girls and boys can enjoy their games together with low levels of salt and toxins.
The idea of mixed competitive teams isn’t a new concept, and Christin’s had her fair share of experience playing in them. But she’s on a mission to create a new, separate path for women, and she believes South Africa has the talent base to make that dream a reality.
“I’ve played within some top tier mixed teams – and I’m not against mixed gender teams, nor am I pushing to create a division or segregation through esports – I just personally believe that some of the women within South Africa deserve more recognition than the “mixed team community” is supplying them with.
South African esports is developing at a rapid pace, and trying to mimic international scenes, so why not put South Africa on the map by taking part in the women’s events that already exist?
Yes, we can keep up with the boys’ teams, and within South Africa I truly believe that we have some of the best individual girl gamers in the world. They just need the opportunity to be showcased.”
Admittedly, it will take some work to get there. South African esports in general has really only picked up steam within the past year and a bit, and the community needs to make sure they’re doing all they can to grow every facet of the scene all at once.
And while we really don’t like comparing men and women (GLHF: Not everything is a competition, okay?), it’s our responsibility as viewers, event hosts, MGOs and journalists to ensure we’re giving the fairer sex as much attention and investment as they need to grow their careers alongside their male counterparts.
“I believe that what Energy Esports did, as well as all our sponsors (LG, Nexus, Steelseries, Mweb and Gigabyte) by supplying girls with a ‘home’ and proper equipment to practice on, just as the boys get, was exactly what is needed to grow the female gaming scene.
With more support from players and companies female gaming in South Africa could go further (dare I say it) than the boys teams such as Bravado have gone. Maybe even take home a title or two.
The fact that on Twitch there were 80 more constant viewers than any boys match normally receives shows that people are interested.
Acceptance is key, and as soon as people start backing female gaming and not criticising the people that are leading the march then South Africa will be put on the map.
Hopefully this event will allow more females to step out of the shadows and make their name known within the community, as there are many individuals who are deserving of recognition, but simply do not have contact with the right people.”
It’s exciting to see the energy and time people have put into building the girl gamer scene so far, and it must be an amazing feeling to have taken part in an all-female event that attracted so much attention. What’s next, then?
“An all-female league should definitely be introduced, with the prize being an invitation to one of the internationals for women’s CS:GO.”
So, the challenge to all event and tournament hosts has been set. How long will it be before we see ladies-only leagues and tournaments with prizes worth dying, respawning, and dying again for? If the success and popularity of the Valkyrie Challenge was anything to go by, our best guess is pretty damn soon.
Oh, and another challenge has been set, but this one is for all the male CS:GO teams out there who think they don’t need to worry about beating an all-female lineup.
“I believe that I have some of the strongest girl gamers in my team, and as a team of five I think that we will be able to go far. Even taking down many guys teams that step up to the plate and giving them a run for their money.”
The ladies of eN.Finesse have something to prove, are you up to the challenge?