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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Gender segregation in eSports tournament ignites controversy

11:45 AM on 07.02.2014 // Kyle MacGregor

International eSports Federation believes division will help legitimize pro gaming

The International eSports Federation is in hot water today, following news of the organization's discriminatory plans for its upcoming World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The tournament finalized its lineup last month, which segregates by gender. Men will lock horns over Dota 2, StarCraft IIHearthstone, and Ultra Street Fighter IV; while women compete in StarCraft II and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 matches.

The reasoning behind the move is puzzling at best, and seems counter-productive to the organization's end goal.

"The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sport," the South Korea-based IeSF explained in response to a fan's inquiry over Facebook.

The story caught fire yesterday when Reddit user Karuta shared an email with the site's Hearthstone community regarding the upcoming qualifier in Finland. The message states "participation is open only to Finnish male players."

PC Gamer then got in touch with Markus Koskivirta, the administrator for the Finnish qualifier, who revealed this wasn't his organization's decision. Rather, this was "in accordance with the International e-Sports Federation's (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things."

Heaven forbid a female player be allowed the chance to best her male counterparts.

"We would also like to point out that the Finnish eSports Federation is currently lobbying for the equal rights of male and female players in the IeSF tournaments," Koskivirta continued. "This is an ongoing process and we of course welcome any support in this matter."

IeSF is aware of the furor, saying "Our top priority is to promote e-Sports in the best ways we can." Perhaps doing away with this needless separation would be a good start.

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