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Sports

The rise of women in League of Legends: Wild Rift

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
The rise of women in League of Legends: Wild Rift
Sibol's League of Legends: Wild Rift women's team in the 31st Southeast Asian Games
SIBOL / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Witnessing his first women's esports tournament left an impression on Leo Faria, Riot Games' Global Head of Esports - Wild Rift. 

Not only was his experience at the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi the first time he saw teams representing their own countries instead of their organizations, it was also his first time seeing an all-female tournament.

"It was really awesome seeing the whole [games]. We don’t usually have national teams playing Wild Rift; they are usually representing their team or their organization. It was really cool seeing the teams representing their country and walking on stage with their flags and singing their national anthems. Most importantly, it was the first time I saw, in person, a womens’ tournament and it was really really great," said Faria during an interview with the Philippine media during Wild Rift's Global Championship (Icons).

Of course, a standout team for him was the dominance of women's team from the Philippines who, not only showed their mastery of Wild Rift but their cool and fun personalities made a lasting impression on the Wild Rift executive.

"We had Angelailaila (Angel Lozada) walking on stage with a cartwheel. I play Olaf, she played Olaf three times in the final matches and she crushed it. It was really cool seeing them all playing," praised Faria.

Looking ahead to expand more on the female gaming scene, Faria believes that games like Wild Rift are that turning point in being able to bring women players to the forefront.

"I think one of the things that make MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) different from PC gaming is the fact it’s just more accessible and [we see] a lot more women playing that game compared to that of PC," explained Faria.

Similar to how Valorant highlights female players with Valorant Game Changers, Wild Rift also has things in the works which Faria didn't dive deeper into, but teased as something to watch out for in the near future.

"I cannot share anything official yet but there’s a lot we can and will do. The way to develop [the female gaming scene] is giving players the opportunity to play and compete, to be on stage, to be seen. It’s how they get picked up and signed by teams. Again no official announcements yet but there’s a lot coming," said Faria.

Local Gaming Scene

Filipinos Christine "Ray Ray" Natividad, Rose Ann "Hell Girl" Robles, Charize "Yugen" Doble, Giana "Jeeya" Llanes, April "Aeae" Sotto, and Angel "Angelailaila" Lozada made their mark on history as the first all-female team to win a gold as they conquered the Women's Wild Rift event during the 31st SEA Games. 

But even with the success, it seems as though there is still a lot of hesitancy on the part of female gamers to try and enter the scene.

In an interview with Philstar.com during Philippine Esports Organization's Thanksgiving Night last week, Sibol Wild Rift women's team skipper Christine "Ray Ray" Natividad believes that the stigma about gaming not being a female sport is still ever present.

Adding to it the criticism from parents who have daughters who hope to break into the gaming scene add on to the hesitancy as to why there aren't many female gamers competing.

"'Yun 'yung naghohold back sa [female gamers], yung takot ma-judge, takot macriticize ng ibang tao," said Natividad.

She adds that she and her teammates had also faced such criticism and believes that their win during the biennial meet last May would have a big impact on such stigmas in the local arena. 

"Marami pong nagsasabi sa amin na 'Gusto ko po rin maging tulad niyo. Gusto rin namin makatapak [sa international tournament]," she said.

Though Natividad had previously announced her retirement from esports to focus on herself and studies, her love for esports is still present and hopes to meet more female gamers in the local scene in the near future.

She will also be continuing to stream as part of the local esport scene.

"Sa mga female gamers, be strong and be confident, hayaan niyo lang yung nangbabash sa inyo kasi once may mapatunayan naman kayo lahat yun mawawala ng parang bula," she said.

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