Normally you will think that games are mostly for boys and men, gamers are mostly males. Yes, we are seeing more and more games for girls, more and more woman gamers, but the esports field is still 99% for men. There have been female pro gamers, but until now we can witness a team consisting of all female players.

On 28th January 2019, the new season of League of Legends (LoL) tournament by North America Scholastic Esports Federation started, and the very first all-female team was presented to us all. It was the Troy Ladies of League. Even more special, this is the first all-female high school esports team in the United States. For female gamers competing, they still have to fully go through the checklist of male gamers: doing the assignment from classes, preparing for their university application and borrowing computers from school to practice LoL. Not only so, but there are also so many negativities toward female gamers, not to mention female pro gamers.

Fortunately for our girls, Troy High School in Fullerton, California has a great history when it comes to professional esports. While other schools may still have the old-fashionedly negative view of games in general, Troy High School has had many teams competing in many games. Moreover, they are also known for producing world-class professional players like Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Kevin “SlurpeeThief” Royston.

The main goal for Mr. Carlos Aldaco, the general manager of the Troy Ladies of League isn’t the final victory. His primary objective for his girls in their first tournament is to prove that an all-female team can play like everyone else.
“I told the girls, regardless if you do well or not—it doesn’t matter,” Aldaco said. “The point is just formed this team and prove that girls can play.”

Troy Ladies Of League 770x578
the Troy Ladies of League

One common goal

Mindy Jun grew up playing games. At first, she started with console games introduced by his older brother. But then, he moved out and took the console with him. It was the time that Jun discover LoL – one of the most well known MOBAs game in the world.

“I was left with my Dell laptop,” Jun said. “It can really only handle one game, which is League of Legends, which is why I only play that game.”

Some of her friends in the school compete on the game Overwatch, some of her friends join LoL teams, but all are boys’ teams. They all inspire Jun to believe that games are not just for fun, competitive gaming is a beneficially educational activity. So when the plan of forming an all-female team was announced by the school in April 2018, Jun signed up for it. And she even contributed to the process of recruiting the 4 other players for the team.

All the team members are in their senior year. They joined the team for different reasons of their own. Jaidalyn Bradley wanted a way to connect with other girls at Troy. Samantha Bae realized she wanted to play in a team environment. Emma Herrmann saw an opportunity to get out of her shell and lessen the stress of school by doing something she loves.
But they all share a common goal.

“We are going to be an example of how girls can play, and I definitely don’t want to let that up,” Bae said.

Push for change

Bad news for our girls, the esports industry is not really a welcoming place for women. Since the day one of the professional gaming industry, it has been dominated by males. Rarely have we seen a famous pro gamer previously. Even more sadly, this issue exists even in professional corporations. And Riot Games – the developer of LoL themselves – is a perfect example for this.

November last year, Riot Games was sued due to the accusations of gender discrimination. Women working for Riot Games described an uncomfortable “bro culture” that stifled promotion opportunities for women. Other employees felt the interview process was unequal for women who were interested in working for the company. Many agreed sexism underlined the core values of the corporation. In the end, the COO of Riot Games Scott Gelb being suspended for two months without pay. It is because of this problem that female gamers have shown a lot of hesitation over their gaming experience, like turning off their mic when gaming or choosing gender-neutral usernames.

Mr. Aldaco himself admitted that he shared some responsibility to let this situation happen. “I blame my generation,” Aldaco said. “I was part of that group of guys, growing up we said negative things about women, and I feel like my generation affects that.”

In the process of building this team, Mr. Aldaco had a lot of problems. First, he had to convince the administrators of the school, and then find at least 5 players for the team, even though at that moment, he didn’t have the full support from the administrators of the school. It was until the team has been formed and the administrators saw the positive effect of the team, they truly believed in the plan.

“The students are extraordinary,” Mr. William Mynster, the headmaster said. “They like to do things that are new; they like to do things that other people haven’t done.”

Yes, of course, Mr. Aldaco made a great success just for forming the team and preparing the girls for the championship. This milestone has never been achieved before. Still, we all know Mr. Aldaco and his girls have only gone half of the way. All the negativities that his girls will definitely have to face is a much bigger concern of Mr. Aldaco.

“There’s a lot of pressure on me because I don’t want the girls to be picked on,” Aldaco said. “I want the girls to have fun, that is what I keep telling them: Just have fun.”
The toxicity Aldaco knows the team will face fuels him.
“It makes me want to push the girls to play even harder,” Aldaco said.

More than just a game

Due to the fact that all the team members are seniors, they focused entirely on their university application in the fall. This resulted that the team could only practice a few couples of weeks before the tournament. Still, luckily, the team have realized what needs to be improved before the championship.

During the preparation process, they haven’t forgotten what they will be representing and the responsibilities along.
“We are the first all-female starters in the nation,” Jun said. “In a way, we are kind of representing all-female players and I feel like we should do that well.”
Although some other teammates of her believe in different things, Jun doesn’t really care and she just wants to compete.
“They expect us to do badly and they have these expectations before we go into matches and there is a lot of toxicity that we face,” Jun said. “But we just want to play the game.”