With a track record of working to help the esports world continue to improve itself, LA-based esports organization Cloud9 has done it again. In addition to their efforts to raise awareness about mental health in the gaming community, they’ve now taken a huge step in working towards gender equality in esports as well. In an exciting move, Cloud9 has officially launched their first all-female Valorant team.
The team will be called “Cloud9 White” and consists of five players: Alexis “alexis” Guarrasi, Annie “Annie” Roberts, Jasmine “Jazzy” Manankil, Katsumi, and Melanie “meL” Capone. Although the name may be new, the team has played together for a while now. Previously, as an independent team called MAJKL—pronounced “magical”—the crew competed in the Counter Logic Gaming Blitz Open Cup, where they placed 5-8th. More recently, the team came in first place in this September’s FTW Summer Showdown tournament.
An article from Venture Beat quoted Cloud9 senior marketing VP, Kristen Salvatore, as saying, “We’re starting a women’s team, and the goal is parity. The goal is pay equity. But we have a keen understanding that to get there, we need to make sure we are surfacing and supporting opportunities for women.” As a part of their approach to achieving “parity” and “pay equity,” Cloud9 White will be training alongside the organization’s male Valorant team. In fact, the two teams will be playing in the same league. The intent is that, as the Venture Beat piece states, “they will practice against each other and share strategies and feedback to make both rosters stronger.”
Part of Cloud9’s efforts towards “creating more opportunities for women and making competitive gaming more inclusive” is supported by a partnership with AT&T. On their end, AT&T’s marketing strategy aimed at women, particularly female game developers, has led to their formation of Unlocked Games, an initiative intent on ‘Elevating Women in Game Development.’ Together, AT&T and Cloud9 are working to change the tide of statistics that show “71% of [poll] respondents say women aren’t represented enough in esports and gaming… and… 62% of female esports fans do not believe brands market to them.” Considering “women make up 46% of the gaming industry, and… 29% of esports fans are women,” the efforts espoused by the collaboration are much-needed.
As Salvatore says, “We subscribe heavily to the notion that if fans see [a female competitor] then they will believe, ‘I can be her.’ This is how we bring more girls and young women into this.” With Cloud9 White making their debut at Riot’s First Strike tournament qualifiers, which began earlier this week, Alexis, Annie, Jazzy, Katsumi, and “meL” are sure to inspire just that sort of belief.