Update 2: It appears that Blizzard has also been instrumental in turning over the IeSF's decision.

In a statement provided to Gameplanet and other media outlets, Blizzard said, "One of our goals with eSports is to ensure that there’s a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games. We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal. To that end, we’ve separately been in contact with IeSF and understand that they’ve updated their rules to make it clear that their Hearthstone tournament will be open to all players."


Update: Due to public pressure, the IeSF has reconsidered its position on gender segregation in its eSports tournaments. In a new statement, the IeSF said it will now have two categories, "Open for All" and events that are reserved for women only.

"The events which were initially set aside as the male division will now be open to all genders, and the events which were initially set as the female division will remain as they were," the IeSF said.

"The IeSF Board addressed its reason for maintaining events for women, citing the importance of providing female gamers with ample opportunities to compete in e-Sports—currently a male-dominated industry.

"Female gamers make up half of the world’s gaming population, but only a small percentage of e-Sports competitors are women. The IeSF’s female-only competitions aim to bring more diversity to competitive play by improving the representation of women at these events. Without efforts to improve representation, e-Sports can’t achieve true gender equality."

The IeSF has also added Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to the "Open for All" category. IeSF competition based on this game was previously only open to women.


Original: An eSports event intends to exclude female players from its Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Dota 2 and Ultimate Street Fighter IV competitions on the basis that it wishes to present gaming as "legitimate sport".

The entry form for the IeSF World Championship Hearthstone 2014 Finnish Qualifier reads “The participation is only open to Finnish male players.”

In a statement to PC Gamer, Markus “Olodyn” Koskivirta, head administrator of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, said, “Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only.

“In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation’s (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”

"We would also like to point out that the Finnish eSports Federation is currently lobbying for the equal rights of male and female players in the IeSF tournaments," stressed Koskivirta. "This is an ongoing process and we of course welcome any support in this matter."

Here's the tournament list, from the IeSF's Facebook event page:

  • Male Competition: Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Ultra Street Fighter IV
  • Female Competition: Starcraft 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2

The IeSF, or International e-Sports Federation, is a global organisation based in South Korea that wishes to promote eSports as a "true sport".

"The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports [sic]," said the IeSF.

The statement wrongly suggests that part of what makes a sport "legitimate" is that it is segregated along gender lines. The IeSF fails to grasp that where gender segregation does exist in other sports, it is often due to physical considerations. These considerations simply do not apply to gaming.