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Fan backlash over male-only eSports tournament causes emergency policy change

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The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) held an emergency session in order to reverse their current male-only tournament policy. Instead the current tournaments will be divided into the All Players category and the Female-only categories as follows:

All players:
DOTA 2
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Ultra Street Fighter 4
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

Female-only:
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
Tekken Tag Tournament 2

This sudden change and emergency session followed after a round of article made the rounds on the internet, including articles from PCGamer, Metro.co.uk, Polygon, and Kotaku, as well as a post on Reddit which seemed to be the starting point. The post shows an image of a Finnish tournament held by the IeSF which states that participation in the Hearthstone qualifier is male-only. Notably, at the time, the tournament did not have a female-only Hearthstone competition.

The reasons behind the gender divide was a policy set by the IeSF which wanted to follow the guidelines of other internationals sports which divide by gender lines. They pointed out that other non-physical sports were also gender divided, citing chess as an example. (An example which was notably rebutted quickly by a comment on this article, International chess tournaments are divided into female-only and all gender categories)

The IeSF also wished to encourage female players getting notice in tournaments. While gamers are by and large split faily evenly among both genders, the IeSF notes that male participation in eSports tournaments far outweighs female participation. This gives good reason for a female-only competition, but no reason for a male-only one.

The overwhelmingly negative fan response to the revelation of the male-only tournaments has caused the policy to be reversed. It is true that male-only game tournaments have been going on for years, but backlash of this type will likely end that pattern.

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