The first Valkyrie Challenge, hosted in August 2017, was widely acclaimed as a roaring success, featuring two ladies’ teams battling for the R50,000 prize pool. This year Mettlestate is turning it up to 11, offering multiple teams two seasons of play, each worth their own R50,000 paychecks.
But the mid-February announcement of the new Valkyrie Challenge, now sponsored by gaming hardware manufacturer ASUS ROG, was met with a mix of adoration and resistance – a common occurrence when people who have previously dominated an activity are excluded from taking part in an event.
We decided to reignite our conversation with Christin ‘christin2ssb’ Meistre (captain of the Energy eSports Finesse team that won the first Valkyrie Challenge) and speak to her about why people really should be making a fuss about the new competition (GLHF: And why it should be the good kind of fuss.).
“The female community as a whole is growing at the moment due to players finally stepping out and making names for themselves. Big MGOs and sponsors are also seeing the potential female gaming has in South Africa. Leagues and games are being cast – mainly by Mettlestate who, true to their slogan, are forging the future.
The potential I’m talking about is the talent we have in South Africa. There are a lot of girls playing games that are overlooked, but in fact would be able to keep up against many top international girls.
As well as the potential to bring in a profit through an audience and sponsors. Because girls in a more competitive scene is such a ‘new thing’, an audience is created as more and more people are curious to see the story of the rise of someone through the ranks.
Without a doubt we have more than one female gamer in South Africa that could be playing at an international level, given the correct support and platform to show off their talent.”
The first Valkyrie Challenge boasted the largest-ever prize pool for a local female CS:GO event, and due to the growth christin2ssb is talking about, there are two new opportunities for more ladies-only teams to earn R50,000 per season.
But that kind of growth doesn’t just happen on its own, especially in a competitive field traditionally dominated by men.
“The biggest growth factor by far is the support. Mettlestate alone has given the opportunity for girls to finally see what it is like to play competitively. As well as people giving time and resources into a developing scene. Coaches, players are all giving time.
Publicity has created a spotlight on players which people are able to connect to, making them invested in the players. To the point where it isn’t just simply a girl playing on a server but a ‘pro girl’ that is playing and get the same recognition that many of the top male players receive.
Naming one individual would be extremely difficult, just because of the multitude of people that are actually helping. With players such as Elusive, slowye, blackpoison, sonic, fadey and many other names that slip my mind right now having dedicated their time to coaching teams and taking time out to share their knowledge with girls teams.”
Despite the support being offered by the long list of people Christin can’t remember right now, the release of the second iteration of the Valkyrie Challenge got its fair share (GLHF: Or perhaps unfair share.) of negative feedback on social media , including from the likes of Trevor ‘Kanibalistic’ Morley, who plays for the same MGO as Christin.
There’s definitely a discussion to be had around the @Mettlestate Valkyrie Challenge and if it really is promoting esports, personally I feel it has the opposite effect and I have yet to read/hear a argument that tells me differently, alright Q the sjws:
— Trevor Morley (@eNkanii) February 14, 2018
The majority of negative comments seem to follow this same thread throughout: Separate leagues create division and stagnation, rather than provide a place for constructive upliftment of an overlooked minority. Unsurprisingly, most (GLHF: All?) of the negative comments are from guys. But how does someone actually from that minority see it?
“I believe the controversy that surrounds the Valkyrie league is the fact that people think having a female league will create segregation throughout the community, where on the contrary I would say the league is a solution for that exact thing.
Although not a long-term solution, the Valkyrie league is the exact thing that will bring in the equality which the community calls for. It’s simply giving women the same opportunity as the men have received: An open space to display their skill against women of the same community as well as getting a spotlight shone upon them.
Yes, I do agree the female skill group is not the same as the top-tier men, but that’s exactly why this is needed. The forging of the future begins slowly by letting women know it’s good to play games competitively, the community isn’t as toxic as it is made out to be, and they are appreciated in South Africa. So women can one day join a local server and be greeted and treated just as well as the top-tier male players.
Personally the Valkyrie Challenge was my first LAN, and I would’ve never been able to experience that or even feel like I meant anything at all in this community if it wasn’t for Mettlestate and all they’ve done. Growth in the community should be supported.
The issue on finances shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation in my books as there are competitions that have R1 million prize pools compared to a R50 000 prize pool.”
That’s the second time Christin has referenced Mettlestate’s slogan. Are there some endorsement deals going on we should know about?
Bridging the divide
It’s quite clear Mettlestate’s plan isn’t to exclude men, but to rather provide a platform to grow the role female players play in the scene. And like christin2ssb says, it’s by no means a long-term solution, but rather a stepping stone to greater things. Some people may not want all-female tournaments, but we undeniably need them.
“Right now I think they are a necessity. More game time against a properly structured team will make the level of game play increase. And they’ll encourage an increase in female players by treating them with respect as if they belong there, and not verbally abusing them as soon as they’re better than you.
A downside of only having girls teams in a tournament would be having a very limited skill group with a ceiling or cap upon it. If a player only plays within a female league and isn’t exposed to the male competitive scene they’ll only grow to a certain extent and not much growth past there can happen. That’s why it’s a short-term solution.
I 100% believe one day we won’t have to have the different groupings, because there’ll be no need to single out men and women, or have such a difference in finances between the two.”
While eN.Fe won the first Valkyrie Challenge, their WESG qualifier hopes were dashed on the digital rocks in late 2017 by a strong LeetPro side, proving that there are more than just one or two all-female teams worth watching out for. And potentially even more that we don’t know about yet.
“We’re seeing more and more strong female players coming out that are definitely forces to be reckoned with. Male players are dedicating their time and effort into coaching and managing teams, as well as MGOs and sponsors picking up developing players.
I’m very excited to see the unseen talent that will appear from nowhere. But from what I know right now is LeetPro have a strong new lineup, so I want to see who’ll come out on top. We’ll see if we can take down the goliaths. All I’m saying is I promise there’ll be a show more than worth watching. ??”
We’re looking forward to watching as the women of South African CS:GO – and esports in general – rise to new heights of power, spurred on by events like the Valkyrie Challenge and hosts like Mettlestate.
Forging the future, indeed.