Gaming / Sports / Startups / Women in tech

Why Nerd Street Gamers is hosting an all-women VALORANT tournament this weekend

"The main goal is to provide a competitive platform for these teams to be seen, whether it's to showcase some badass talent, or to show a younger demographic of women gamers that there's a place at the table for them."

Nerd Street Gamers' all-women VALORANT tournament. (Courtesy image)

Northern Liberties-based esports startup Nerd Street Gamers (NSG) and Comcast’s Spectacor Gaming are partnering with LA game developer Riot Games to host NSG’s first all-women VALORANT tournament over three days this weekend.

Both the tournament and Nerd Street Gamers are participating in a larger initiative, FTW For the Women, which launched last year with the aim of connecting more young women to the gaming industry and advancing their careers.

Initially the tournament was going to consist of a one-day, eight-team event, but organizers upped the stakes Thursday, announcing it would instead feature 12 teams competing for $50,000.

“Competing as a female in games is a daunting task for many reasons, so when we heard of Nerd Street Gamers’ and Spectacor Gaming’s FTW Summer Showdown, we knew we wanted to throw our support behind the tournament and elevate it to the level of our VALORANT Ignition Series,” said Anna Donlon, the executive producer of VALORANT at Riot Games, in a statement. (VALORANT is a multiplayer first-person shooter game.)

The initial eight amateur, pro and content creator teams that were invited to the tournament will be joined by four additional amateur team spots that were secured in a qualifier tournament over Labor Day weekend that was hosted by GALorants, a women’s VALORANT Discord community.

Paige Funk, Nerd Street Gamers’ senior marketing director, told that the goal is to host more women-centered events in the future.

“The main goal is to provide a competitive platform for these teams to be seen, whether it’s to showcase some badass talent, or to show a younger demographic of women gamers that there’s a place at the table for them,” Funk said.

Funk joined Nerd Street Gamers about a year ago after a career in what she called the “traditional” sports industry with roles in the MLB and NBA. One of the things she learned quickest about the gaming industry, she said, is that it’s made up of lots of different communities and types of games.

But misogyny can breed from the anonymous culture of gaming and the ability to hide behind a username, she said. (NSG founder and CEO John Fazio touched on this, too, during our live interview/Rocket League event in July.) It’s a concern for younger gamers who might experience sexism or hate speech early on that deters them from seeing esports as a career option.

“Talent is halted in its steps,” Funk said. “One bad experience could stop someone from playing or chasing their dreams.”

It’s why Funk and others organizing this weekend’s tournament find it especially important to make the space for women gamers to focus on competition and show off their talents without fear of negative comments. The completely virtual environment also allows a little more accessibility, and the ability to cast a wider net for talent who doesn’t have to pay to travel or logistics.

VALORANT fans will be able to tune into the FTW Summer Showdown this Friday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Sept. 13. beginning at 5 p.m. each day on Nerd Street Gamers’ Twitch. The teams that will be competing in this weekend’s competition are:

  • Chick Fil Ayy
  • Flawless
  • Hardstuck
  • Sailor Scouts
  • Hamboigas
  • Silhouette
  • GX3
  • Zenith
  • Dignitas 
  • G FUEL
  • Bloom
Companies: Nerd Street

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