Minnesota is getting another professional esports team — but this time, it's made up entirely of women.
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Driving the news: Eagan-based esports company Version1 announced late last week it's launching an all-female Valorant team, called VersionX.
The five players will compete in the first-person shooter game that has more than 14 million monthly active PC players.
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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