Women in eSports: Why They’re the Market to Watch

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Girl esports gamer

eSports is a space that has always been dominated by men…up until now, that is.  While the world of gaming continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is evolving at the same time.  Where eSports was once an industry dominated by men, almost 50% of all gamers in the world today are female. This reflects into the competitive sphere of gaming where women in eSports are gaining in popularity.

Gaming is certainly not what it used to be either. Virtual reality, as well as YouTube and Twitch gaming videos, have created a whole new dynamic and audience. These changes in the gaming space have been met with an influx of female gamers, a market that is expected to see considerable growth in the coming years.

A 2017 report by Think With Google showed that over 65% of women watched YouTube gaming videos to hear from people they could relate to, which speaks to the incredible opportunities available to brands interested in running influencer marketing campaigns in the eSports arena.

Why are there so few women pro gamers?

Even though you only need a fast computer and an internet connection to be a pro gamer, there still seems to be very few women participating in professional gaming tournaments.  According to Super Data Research, women accounted for $44 billion in game sales in 2016, a figure which is said to reach $118 billion by 2019.  There’s no denying that females are prominent in the gaming sector but this doesn’t explain why less than 5% of pro gamers are women.

So, what are some of the potential pitfalls and roadblocks that female gamers are experiencing?

  • Gaming culture. While gaming demographics might be changing, the gaming culture still has a way to go. Unfortunately, a large majority of men still believe they “own” gaming, with many women being met with challenging questions and trivia that is meant to prove their lack of knowledge. It’s also a known fact that many female gaming characters lack depth, with Cortana of Halo being a prime example. This is not to say that all women feel unwelcome and uncomfortable when they encounter male gamers but gaming culture does require some work before we will see more female gamers in tournaments.
  • On-screen harassment. Many female gamers are turning to streaming platforms such as Twitch to make a name for themselves while making some money at the same time. Unfortunately, being in front of a camera tends to open women up to a lot of online harassment. There’s also the issue of professional gaming teams that have been said to hire female gamers based on looks alone, with some Chinese teams even training models to be gamers so that they have an attractive team member.

While these issues are not preventing women from joining professional teams and participating in tournaments, there is perhaps still some bumps to overcome before eSports becomes a totally equal playing field.

A closer look at women in eSports

More and more is being done to put the spotlight on women in gaming, with countless gamers rallying behind these efforts.

Misscliks is one example of a group of women who are taking the lead in the world of gaming.

Four female gamers decided to create a space that supports female gamers by giving them a place where they can explore and demonstrate their passion for gaming. They also have their own Twitch page where women can interact while watching them play games.

In addition to groups such as Misscliks, there are a number of female gaming tournaments that have been launched to encourage more women to turn pro.  In 2017, SimBin Studios was one of the first brands to announce a female gaming tournament called Women and Wheels.

Since then, other tournaments such as the Girl Gamer eSports Festival and the Supergirl Gamer Pro event have been drawing more attention to women in gaming, creating empowering environments that promote gender equality in an often male-dominated space.

Whether events like this are actually further segregating female gamers or slowly working them into a mainstream gaming space is a debate for another day. The good news is that steps are being taken to encourage more women to embrace and shine in eSports.

The Overwatch Tournament that took place in May this year was a clear indication that female gamers are supported and have a growing fan base. Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon, who was the first female gamer to be signed to an Overwatch APEX team, was met with cheers and applause during the tournament.

The fact that Kim’s passion and talents are being recognized is a positive sign for all women in gaming and something that will hopefully encourage even more women to join the eSports scene.

Top 10 highest earning women in eSports

Here are the women who sit among the most popular Twitch streamers in the eSports realm.

Sasha Hostyn aka Scarlett

  • Location: Canada
  • Total Earnings: Over $200,600

Scarlett, who is a professional StarCraft II player, joined the gaming scene in 2011 but really started turning heads in 2012 when she beat several high-ranking players. She has participated in over 140 tournaments and has over 46,000 followers on Twitch. In 2014, Scarlett was named one of the 50 most admirable people in gaming and she continues to dominate.

Katherine Gunn aka Mystik

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Total Earnings: Over $120,000

A gamer since 2007 and the second highest earning woman in eSports, Katherine’s game of choice is Halo: Reach. Katherine’s biggest win came from series 2 of the WCG Ultimate Gamer tournament where she won a whopping $100,000. She also has a massive following on social media, including over 40,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 220,000 followers on Twitch.

Ricki Ortiz

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Total Earnings: Over $80,000

Ricki, who has been gaming since the early 2000s specializes in fighting games such as Marvel vs. Capcom and the Street Fighter series. Ricki has competed in over 60 tournaments to date and is a member of the Evil Geniuses team. Her Twitch channel, HelloKittyRicki currently has over 9,600 loyal fans.

Marjorie Bartell aka Kasumi Chan

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Total Earnings: $55,000

Another female gamer who specializes in fighting games, Marjorie has been gaming since 2006 and won $50,000 from a single tournament. Even though she doesn’t have much of a presence on social media or Twitch, fans still know exactly who she is. Her gaming name, Kasumi Chan, was inspired by a character from Dead or Alive.

Sarah Harrison aka Sarah Lou

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Total Earnings: $50,000

This Dead or Alive gamer won all of her earnings at the 2008 Championship Gaming Series Season. Sarah’s sister, Ruth, is also an avid gamer and they’re often referred to as the Serena and Venus Williams of the gaming world.

Wang Xinyu aka BaiZe

  • Location: China
  • Total Earnings: Over $27,000

Wang earned the majority of her earnings during the Hearthstone Championship Tour in 2017 and is the first female gamer to compete in a seasonal championship. Her game of choice is Hearthstone and while she was once only known in China, she has fast become a renowned name in the Western gaming scene too.

Zainab Turkie aka zAAz

  • Location: Sweden
  • Total Earnings: Over $26,000

A gamer since 2002, Zainab is a Counter-Strike pro who is currently part of the RES Gaming team. Most of her earnings have stemmed from the 24 tournaments that she has been involved in since 2008. When she isn’t gaming, zAAz is managing her social media accounts where she has a substantial number of followers.

Julia Kiran aka juliano

  • Location: Sweden
  • Total Earnings: Over $23,000

This Counter-Strike gamer is currently the in-game leader for Team Secret and has been partaking in tournaments and competitions for the past 5 years. Along with having a sizeable following on Twitter and Instagram, Juliano’s Twitch channel also has over 120,000 followers.

Christine Chi aka potter

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Total Earnings: Over $22,000

Christine is another Counter-Strike gamer who is part of the RES Gaming team. Christine has competed in 16 different competitions and achieved first place in several of them. When she isn’t competing at events, Christine does stream on Twitch where she has over 22,000 followers.

Stephanie Harvey aka missharvey

  • Location: Canada
  • Total Earnings: Over $21,000

This eSports champ is also a developer for Ubisoft in Montreal so she really knows games. She has played Counter-Strike at several tournaments and has won five world championships. Stephanie’s Twitch channel has over 110,000 followers and she uses her social media accounts to speak out against gender discrimination in the professional gaming space.

 

Top 10 female streamers in the world

While the best female Twitch streamers may not be earning as much as some pro gamers, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t making waves in the gaming community. Let’s look at the female streamers who have the most followers on Twitch.

KittyPlays aka Kristen Valnicek

KittyPlays female streamer

  • Location: Canada
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 945,000+

Kristen, one of the top 100 streamers on Twitch, streams twice a day and specialized in games such as Counter-Strike, Fortnite, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. When she’s not gaming, Kristen runs a vlog that touches on topics that range from cooking to racing supercars. One of the main reasons why Kristen is so popular is because she actively engages with her Twitch audience, which would also explain why she has worked with some big brands such as Intel and Pandora.

OMGitsfirefoxx aka Sonja Reid

OMGitsfirefoxx female streamer

  • Location: Canada
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 771,000+

Sonja Reid has been gaming since 2013 and is known for playing games such as Counter-Strike, Overwatch and Minecraft. Known as OMGitsfirefoxx on Twitch, Sonja has built up an impressive online following and has worked with brands such as Audi, Intel, and SyFy. Sonja has even made it onto two Forbes lists, including Top Influencers – Gaming 2017 and 30 Under 30 – Games 2016.

LegendaryLea aka Lea May Currier

LegendaryLea female streamer

  • Location: Canada
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 646,000+

Lea, who is a Physiology and Neuroscience major, has managed to become one of the top 5 female streamers on Twitch. While Hearthstone is her primary game, Lea also dabbles in Overwatch, World of Warcraft and even Counter-Strike. Lea is known for providing Twitch users with a friendly and interactive experience and has racked up a number of generous donations, including one worth $23,100.

LoserFruit aka Kathleen Belsten

Loserfruit female streamer

  • Location: Australia
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 638,000+

Kathleen is one of Australia’s top female Twitch streamer and also plays one of the widest selection of games on Twitch. Some of the games that she plays most often include Just Dance, Overwatch, Witcher 3, Fortnite and League of Legends. Kathleen also has a substantial following on social media, including a YouTube channel with over 620,000 additional subscribers.

itsHAFU aka Rumay Wang

itsHafu female streamer

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 581,000+

This popular streamer logs anything between 60 and 80 hours on Twitch every week and is known for playing League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. Rumay was once a professional World of Warcraft player and has several titles under her belt. She has also played Bloodline Champions and Diablo III on a professional level.

DizzyKitten aka Brandi Dourth

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 523,000+

While Brandi mostly plays Counter-Strike and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, she does dabble in a variety of other games too. She is a very engaging Twitch streamer and will do Q&A sessions with her viewers quite often. Dizzy can usually be found on Twitch 5 days a week and is known to stream for 5 hours at a time. She has worked with several brands before, including G Fuel.

Kaceytron aka Kasey Caviness

kaceytron female streamer

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 467,000+

Kasey is definitely one of the more controversial female streamers on Twitch, with many people claiming that she used her sexuality to increase her online following. Kasey is well known for playing League of Legends but is also known to play World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto V from time to time. Her bold personality and sometimes crude comments certainly keep her followers coming back for more.

2MGoverCSquared  aka Alexandria

2mgovercsquared female streamer

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 447,000+

Ally, who has been gaming since she was a kid, is now one of the most followed female streamers on Twitch. Along with playing Counter-Strike, Ally is also known to stream PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Injustice 2. She also runs a very successful YouTube channel and a vlog.

DingleDerper aka Tory

Dinglederper female streamer

  • Location: U.S.A
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 400,000+

This Twitch and YouTube star has been creating videos for over 6 years and has a strong following on social media. Counter-Strike and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are her primary games but she also runs a vlog that touches on gaming, her travels and her personal life in general.

xMinks aka Chelsea Sandy

xMinks female streamer

  • Location: Australia
  • Number of Twitch Followers: 360,000+

Prior to becoming a full-time streamer on Twitch, Chelsea was a dispensary technician. She is known for playing Fortnite but will also play games such as Call of Duty and H1Z1. When she isn’t gaming, she’s running her highly-popular Instagram page as well as her YouTube channel, which has over 54,000 subscribers.

Bridging the gender gap in eSports

Women in Games, a non-profit organization that supports women in gaming, recently released a report with some suggestions on how we can improve gender diversity in the eSports space.  

According to their report, it all begins with creating more awareness. A small 23% of women who were surveyed actually knew about eSports, which perhaps speaks to the reason why so many men are convinced that women are not interested in eSports.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Instead of it being seen as a byproduct of men’s eSports, women’s eSports should be positioned as a product on its own.
  • More should be done by market leaders to work with existing women’s groups and organizations to provide information and encourage growth in women’s eSports.
  • Analytics should be added to tournament software to track gender statistics and tournament sign-ups and results.
  • More should be invested in eSports marketing to reach a wider audience and highlight the success of female gamers.
  • There should be a significant increase in the number of female eSports tournaments and leagues to offer women new opportunities to work behind the scenes as well as in people-facing roles.
  • Along with arranging additional tournaments, there should also be an increase in prize money and sponsorship to inspire women to form eSports teams.

 

On the streaming end of things, The 1,000 Dreams Fund has partnered with Twitch to promote up-and-coming talent in the online gaming space.  The BroadcastHER grant will give female Twitch streamers the opportunity to receive a grant of up to $2,000 that can be used to grow their Twitch channel.  Grants will be awarded to at least two students every semester, which can be used for anything from travel and workshops to streaming equipment and tournament entries.

It’s incredibly encouraging to know that there are a number of organizations and groups that are starting to highlight the gender gap in the eSports sector; are taking steps to change the world of gaming for the better.  The fact, that a number of brands are also starting to use more female streamers and gamers in their influencer marketing campaigns also speaks to the growth that this space is seeing and will continue to experience in the future.

Where to next?

The eSports and streaming space is certainly a lucrative market and one that is primed for success.  For far too long, female gamers have gone unnoticed by both gamers and brands but this is about to change.  Brands who are serious about entering the eSports space and targeting gamers should definitely not be discounting the power and influence of female gamers and women in eSports.

Women in eSports is definitely a market to watch, and with influencer marketing becoming an integral part of every marketing strategy, the time is right!

Why not have a look at our how-to guide to help you get started with Twitch influencer marketing.

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