Sep 28, 2021 - Sports
Minnesota-based esports company launches all-female team VersionX
five women standing in parking garage in Versionx hoodies
Karra, Natty, Milkyway, Naomi and Rush make up VersionX, a professional Valorant team. Photo courtesy of VersionX

Minnesota is getting another professional esports team — but this time, it's made up entirely of women.

Driving the news: Eagan-based esports company Version1 announced late last week it's launching an all-female Valorant team, called VersionX.

Why it matters: All-female teams are a rarity in the esports world, which has been dominated by men since its infancy — partially due to sexism and discrimination, Axios' Stephen Totilo and Megan Farokhmanesh report.

  • 59% of women who play video games online mask their gender to avoid harassment, according to a 2021 study by Reach 3.

How it works: The team will play in tournaments through VCT Game Changers, a new program dedicated to creating competitive opportunities for women and other marginalized gamer communities within Valorant esports.

  • The team will also compete in other mixed-gender tournaments, Version1 communications director Cassie Batinich told Audrey.
  • Players are currently scattered across the country, but they'll move to Minnesota later this year and work out of Version1 headquarters.

Of note: Version1 also owns Minnesota ROKKR, a professional Call of Duty esports league that launched in 2019.

  • The Wilf family, which owns VersionX's parent company, is also the owner of the Minnesota Vikings.

Thought bubble: Valorant is the current frontier for female-fronted esports teams, with VersionX joining teams from Cloud9 and TSM, Farokhmanesh writes.

  • These dedicated teams give professional players the chance to learn from and compete with players without the worry of discrimination based on their gender.
  • But the field still has a long way to go: a future in which mixed-gender tournaments are the norm, not a novelty.

What they're saying: "We're not where we want to be in professional women's teams, but this is the sort of thing that's taking us a step in the right direction," Batinich said.

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