Cloud9 has brought on the all-women MAJKL Valorant squad to become its first women's esports team.
Moving forward, the team of Alexis "alexis" Guarrasi, Annie "Annie" Roberts, Jasmine "Jazzyk1ns" Manankil, Katsumi and Melanie "meL"Capone will compete as Cloud9 White in competition for Riot Games' Valorant league.
The new team is sponsored by AT&T.
As MAJKL, the team has already won first place in the FTW Summer Showdown tournament -- a part of the Valorant Ignition Series. That $25,000 prize put the team as the sixth highest paid team on the competitive circuit.
"What stood out to me about MAJKL is that they had to work hard to perfect their play, find each other, and then compete as a unit,” said Gaylen Malone, senior general manager of Cloud9, in a statement. “They are a talented group of women who came together with the goal of being the best at the game and were committed to doing what it took to get there, and watching their improvement over just the past few months has been incredible."
Competitive esports should be one place where women and men can compete on equal footing, but the league is still subject to the same problems that beset other competitive events. Few women are members of the elite teams in esports. Competitors like FaZe Clan (which is sponsored by TechCrunch's parent company's parent company, Verizon) only has one girl on their Fortnite roster.
"Our goal is to not only provide value to gamers with AT&T’s products and services, but to also contribute to real, meaningful change in the industry by giving this powerhouse team and other talented women what they need to succeed," said Shiz Suzuki, associate vice president, sponsorships & experiential marketing, AT&T, in a statement. "We can’t wait to tell their stories and see the best of the best represent Cloud9 and AT&T on some of the world’s largest stages."
Female gamers experience the same kind of harassment and unequal treatment that women in other sports are subjected to.
“A lot of female gamers get driven away, and they don’t want to be seen as gamers,” Madison "Maddiesuun" Mann told the online publication ShondaLand. “I remember in high school, I was pretty insecure about it. I didn’t tell anybody I played video games until I graduated — it’s just that weird insecurity.”