Most video game contests are open to men and women, but the 6th e-Sports World Championship, which is governed by the International eSports Federation (IeSF), is spilt up into male and female competitions.
While this gender discrimination has been going on for years, it caused controversy yesterday after a Reddit user posted an e-mail from the Assembly, a group in Helsinki, Finland, that is holding qualifying rounds for men only in the Hearthstone video game part of the 6th e-Sports World Championship, noted Kotaku.com.
The Assembly's e-mail read, "The participation is open only to Finnish male players."
The Assembly also states on its website:
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To clarify the gender restriction rule, it is based on the International e-Sports Federation's (IeSF) tournament regulations. Since the IeSF World Championship Hearthstone tournament in Baku is male only, we can only accept male participants in the Finnish qualifier.
In response to the outcry, Markus Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, told PCGamer.com, "Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only. 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."
"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," added Koskivirta. "This is an ongoing process and we of course welcome any support in this matter."
For its part, the International eSports Federation addressed the controversy on Facebook:
To all our fans and e-Sport enthusiasts,
In the last hours we have received lots of feedback from you regarding the IeSF 6th e-Sports World Championship, particularly regarding the male/female tournament division.
We want to thank you for your interest in e-Sports and for sharing your opinions. The e-Sports community opinion is always important to the IeSF.
Our top priority is to promote e-Sports in the best ways we can. We believe that listening is important, and we're now collecting your opinions from the social media, and we will update soon. Thanks for your patience!