As the esports industry continues its rapid climb with money and influence seemingly pouring in at a geometric rate, it has shined a light on an issue of wealth inequality with regards to female competitors. In a study of the richest players and most profitable games, no women rank anywhere near the top 100 males with a stunning gap between them. Facing extreme toxicity, as well as little to no representation in some of the biggest esports titles, women are facing an uphill battle in a male-dominated environment.
The full report details that the top 100 male players have earned $192.4 million, whereas the top 100 females account for only $2.8 million, a disparity of 6,863%. Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn serves as the only female in the top 500 with total career earnings of $349,455. With regards to the women, the average earnings sit at $28,000 compared to $1.9 million for males. This comes at a time where female participation has significantly increased compared to previous years with an estimated 30% of esports audiences are female.
Though the study did not include what could be causing such a dramatic gap, various esports communities have shown hostility to women in the past and the toxicity directed towards females often go way out of bounds. We’ve seen Street Fighter legend Ricki Ortiz pausing her career after facing waves of vitriol for coming out as trans, Overwatch players betting their careers that a female player couldn’t possibly be good and other deflating moments that may give female competitors pause.
The majority of female players in the top 100 stick to CS:GO, but very few are active in big money titles such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, or esports’ most profitable title Dota 2. Whether this has to do with the notorious toxicity these games are known for, or just a lack of interest in the player base is not clear, but Dota 2 tournaments that dole out prize money in the millions and the Call of Duty Challengers league having various prizes from $25,000 to $250,000 will only increase the gap.
If female viewership and participation continue to rise as it has, then the likelihood of a female winning a major tournament or event could open the floodgates for a more integrated player-verse. At the same time, making events more inviting for womenwouldn’t be so bad as it would mean having more attention with regards to security, safety and conduct. Hopefully the next time this list is revisited, it’ll paint a picture of a wide open field of competition for men and women alike.
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