Not 24 hours after announcing it would not allow females to participate in its main Hearthstone tournament, the IeSF (International e-Sports Federation) has reversed its decision. The original announcement came under immense fire from people of all genders, as it segregated women to a secondary all-female tournament, and thus the IeSF has seen the error in their ways.
For those who haven't been keeping up on their e-Sports the story goes like this. Early July 2nd, the IeSF announced the competitions for an upcoming tournament held by the Finnish Assembly. The competition list included high profile e-Sports titles like Dota 2, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
However, while many of those other competitions were announced as gender-neutral, the main Hearthstone tournament was not. Instead, the IeSF announced they would also hold a separate female tournament.
As you might expect the non-inclusive nature of the competition rubbed people the wrong way. The IeSF later came out to say that their goal with the males-only tournament was to increase e-Sports' standing as a genuine sport — i.e. professional sports like football and baseball are not co-ed — but few agreed with their line of thinking.
Now they don't have to, as the Hearthstone tournament has changed to an all-gender competition. Moreover, the female-only tournament will still remain as part of this qualifier.
"The IeSF has listened to the gaming community and has carefully considered their opinions. Upon hearing these concerns, the IeSF convoked an emergency session of the IeSF Board to respond. As a result, IeSF shall have two event categories: 'Open for All' events and events that are reserved for women. The events which were initially set aside as the male division will now be open to all genders, and the events which were initially set as the female division will remain as they were."
Ultimately, the IeSF's end-goal of improving e-Sports' profile was a noble one, but they clearly went about it the wrong way. Gaming is, at its most basic, an inclusionary experience, so setting specific restrictions, even in a competitive atmosphere, was never going to fly.
As an aside, it's interesting to note that Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is already starting to enter the e-Sports world. Blizzard's virtual collectible card game (VCCG, for short) has been a huge success for the developer - fueling many an addiction well into the night - but we never expected the game would make the jump into e-Sports territory. It's already tough enough to make it through a couple rounds in the Arena; we can only imagine what it would be like to go up against the world's best.
How do you feel about the IeSF reversing its tournament segregation? How would you fare in a Hearthstone tournament?