ESL launches ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ women’s league

The league will have a $500,000 prize pool

The esports organiser ESL Gaming has announced the first women’s league for Valve’s enduringly popular shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The competitive circuit, which is launching in partnership with Intel and DHL, aims to “increase awareness, provide new opportunities, and improve the representation for all women CS:GO players”. It will also kick off ESL’s new #GGFORALL program, which wants to make gaming and esports “an inclusive, respectful, and all-empowering space”. The slogan for the effort is “it’s not GG (Good Game) until it’s GG for all”.

The circuit will offer a combined prize pool of $500,000 (£377.8k), split across regions and various events. The new league will feature eight European and eight North American teams battling it out for a combined $150,000 (£113.3k) prize pool. Three teams from each bracket, plus a South American team and Asia-Pacific team – each determined through open qualifiers – will then compete in the Global League Finals.

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These finals will be held at DreamHack Dallas from June 3-5, 2022, and DreamHack Winter from November 25-27, 2022. These and other DreamHack events throughout the year will offer all-women teams to compete in standalone events, with a $100,000 (£75.5k) prize pool, while smaller ESL Cash Cup competitions will run from January 2022, with a $4,000 (£3k) pool.

Interestingly, the organisers aren’t just setting the Counter-Strike women’s league up as a platform, but also planning a women players council that will “aid in defining further details around the CS:GO ecosystem for women and that provides women a platform for consolidated feedback towards ESL Gaming and other Tournament Organizers.” ESL also aims to increase the representation of women in the broadcasting side of esports, and will launch a talent development program and says it is “opening up additional job opportunities within the company to enhance the new product further”.

CSGO
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Credit: Valve

“By providing an infrastructure equal to their male counterparts, we are thrilled to create more visibility and opportunities for women in the esports space, as well as to support them in their professional development and to help make their dreams come true,” said Roberta Hernandez, SVP People and Culture at ESL Gaming, via statement. “This is only the first part of a number of #GGFORALL initiatives we are currently working on and we can’t wait to tell you more about what is yet to come.”

“At ESL Gaming we truly believe in a world where everybody can be somebody, so going back to the grassroots level and creating an all-new ecosystem to ensure ambitious women CS:GO players are given equal chances is a great step forward,” added Brian Krämer, General Manager, CS:GO at ESL Gaming, and Charlie Sirc, Product Manager at ESL Gaming, in a joint statement. “With a great lineup of events for next year already, we are super excited to develop this new product further in 2022 and beyond.”

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Elsewhere, the co-creator of the original Xbox, Seamus Blackley, has said more needs to be done to combat toxic behaviour in online gaming after footage emerged of a Halo Infinite player receiving abuse for being a woman.

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