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Cloud9 launches first all-women esports team for Valorant

Esports organization Cloud9 will field its first all-women esports team in Riot Games’ Valorant esports tournaments.

Los Angeles-based Cloud9, which runs a number of esports teams for games such as League of Legends and Fortnite, will partner with AT&T in creating more opportunities for women and making esports more inclusive. The team will debut at Riot’s First Strike tournament qualifiers starting on Monday October 26.

Cloud9 has been doing some enlightened work in an esports industry that has grown up as both toxic and male-centric. Back in May, Cloud 9 teamed up with Kaiser Permanente to improve mental health in the U.S. gaming community. These moves are signs of the mainstreaming of esports, video games, diversity, and mental wellness efforts, said Kristen Salvatore, senior vice president of marketing at Cloud9, in an interview with GamesBeat.

“One of the coolest things about esports and competitive gaming is that, unlike traditional sports, you’re playing with a mouse and keyboard,” Salvatore said. “It genuinely does not matter who’s behind the game sitting at that keyboard in terms of their physical prowess or their gender or their cultural background. None of that matters. And so there is every reason that this should be a really powerful way to change what people think a team should be.”

Above: Cloud9’s Melanie “meL” Capone

Image Credit: Cloud9

A 2019 Newzoo study found women make up 46% of the gaming industry; Momentum Worldwide reported 29% of esports fans are women. According to WomenInGames.org, 71% of respondents say women aren’t represented enough in esports and gamingo . Momentum Worldwide noted 62% of female esports fans do not believe brands market to them. Salvatore believes that for esports to change, some of these stats have to improve.

“At some point, you have to realize you are not a