The Overwatch Empowerment Cup: A community pursuit of equity, inclusion, and competitiveness

Women face a lot more adversity when getting into gaming and esports than men do. This is why women as a whole tend not to get into professional games.

Men don’t deal with the same struggles. They don’t get discriminated against, denied opportunities, or kicked off teams because of their gender. That’s why tournaments like this are important.


They still could do it if they wanted to. The baseline is they dont want it/ or are worse than the male players. In gaming there is just one rule:

The better players gets the win. Or in this case: get an invite for a team position.

I think there was a female Zarya player that go invited into the league and she refused. So its not like its not fair or that man are better. We dont need separated events. Its a confidence issue and the only one who can solve THIS issue is the person itself.

They separate chess leagues (though I admit I haven’t looked into why) so I don’t see why separating esports leagues would be any different

I actually would agree if we weren’t talking about Overwatch. See, in the entertainment industry, people make cliques that are often exclusive of women, so women form their own groups. That’s just logic.

In Overwatch, no one’s making cliques like that. When people make little youtuber groups or something, they like to add women unless its a group of close friends (which, at that point, you shouldn’t hire a fake female/male friend just so you don’t look sexist).

Basically, if women don’t feel welcome in Overwatch, we can only blame Blizzard.


When I was growing up, women didn’t get into games because women just didn’t like games. Why are we so sure that women aren’t getting into gaming and esports because of sexism. Has anyone ever thought about the possibility that women game less?

Toxicity is keeping women out, I’d say it should drive more men away too, since men get toxic comments way more often.

Considering in 2021 the breakdown was 55% men, 45% women, I don’t think that’s enough of a difference to account for the little we see of women in esports.

Men don’t receive sexism and creepy comments because they’re men. That’s the difference. Everyone experiences normal toxicity, however, women also experience gender based toxicity and have to deal with creepy guys.


“inclusion” and “equity”, but only females and non-binary are welcome.

Can we call this what it really is?
A bad PR stunt.

I feel like it would’ve been better… if they just named it… “The Overwatch Female Empowerment Cup.”…

so there is no confusion.

Geguri is the player you are thinking of and she was on Shanghai Dragons seasons 1, 2 & 3.

But then you get a lot of other kinds of threads.

So you’re telling me intense toxic comments, in many cases very racist and and otherwise hateful comments are entirely irrelevant, but if men started to receive creepy and sexist comments, then men might leave? I’ve been told that I was going to get shot to death because I sound black, but because it wasn’t a sexist comment, I was just able to take that better?

You’re going to have to forgive my skepticism. Or not, it’s up to you.

Define creepy comments. I’ve had a ton of furries try to initiate sexual RPs with me just because of how much I like disney esq animal characters. Does that not count? Keep in mind, I’m not saying any kind of sexual harassment online is fine, but to say that men don’t leave gaming in the face of intense harassment just because its usually not sexual harassment is just unbelievable to me. I have heard and been subjected to some heinous comments over the years, and I just can’t imagine it would suddenly be worse if they were also sexual comments.

Let’s discuss the difference between equality and equity here, in the context of this discussion.

Equality indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, irrespective of the inherent biases they may face if they’re a member of an under-represented or under-voiced community. This means people who have inherent societal advantages are usually several steps ahead of folks who may be viewed as other.

Equity indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, however it also takes into account societal disadvantages, and by doing so compensates for said disadvantages through mechanisms that are designed to remove or lessen the likelihood of both conscious and unconscious biases affecting the final outcome.

As it relates to the Empowerment Cup

  • As a note, the Empowerment Cup was run by a community organization, and we chose to feature it in the client because it aligns with our values as a team
  • Women, LGBTQIA+, and POC players receive more targeted harassment than players who are not part of those communities. This is demonstrable through many, many studies
  • Because of that targeted harassment, women especially often forgo in game comms or even mask their gender, just to feel safe in these environments
  • Because of inherent biases, statements like “if they’re just as good as the men, they should be competing with them” often neglect the myriad other pressures that are put on women/non-binary folks in a competitive environment that cis-gendered men never face. Those pressures add up, and disincentivizes women/non-binary folks from participating in the competitive space
  • Creating spaces that are as free from gender based harassment and discrimination as possible are the logical first step towards building equity in the esports space.
  • Here at Blizzard, we have a phrase we often use: crawl, walk, run. In order to cultivate and foster the women’s competitive scene within the Overwatch community, we need to create spaces, develop programs, and foster community efforts towards building that talent pool up and increasing their visibility and stature within the community

I’d also like to quash the fallacy of “lost opportunity” here. Community events like the empowerment cup do not take any opportunity away from any player who identifies as a man. These events likely wouldn’t exist without the clear need to do so from a community standpoint.

I know that many of you, like me, were attracted to Overwatch because of the world it promises: hopeful, optimistic, and inclusive. I would encourage anyone who may have disgruntled feelings about this topic to employ empathy, and understand that the best thing you can do to support equity in our space is to be enthusiastic fans and to take the competition in any future women or non-binary only events as seriously as you would other community tournaments, or even Contenders.

This is how we build towards a future where we see equitable representation at the highest levels of play.


Given the acknowledgment of the harassment faced are there any steps being taken to mitigate and prevent the harassment in game of said players?

Even as someone not in one of the groups listed I have seen said harassment way too often secondhand whenever a female voice is heard on the mic. This has lead many to not feel comfortable communicating in game which obviously does not align with long-term goals for Overwatch.

We’re working on improving our anti-toxicity measures for the future. We’ll definitely update everyone when we have details ready to share.


Might I recommend what Rainbow Six Siege is trying to do?

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From what it sounds like, this system will also take a player’s actions into consideration. Things like intentional view blocking and I’m assuming T-bagging. The game will then punish toxic players based on this.

The most interesting thing is that the game will flash a warning if you’re engaging in toxic behavior while not outright punishing you instantly. This means if you’re accidentally being disruptive, but otherwise have a good reputation, you don’t have to worry about being instantly treated like your toxic.

This? This is the topic CM’s come on here to address? Are you kidding me? What a joke man.


Gender also plays a role in the types of harassment people are likely to encounter online. Overall, men are somewhat more likely than women to say they have experienced any form of harassment online (43% vs. 38%), but similar shares of men and women have faced more severe forms of this kind of abuse. There are also differences across individual types of online harassment in the types of negative incidents they have personally encountered online. Some 35% of men say they have been called an offensive name versus 26% of women, and being physically threatened online is more common occurrence for men rather than women (16% vs. 11%).


I’d say this is the perfect thread for the CM to come and address. What in the world would a Community Manager be here for if its not managing community discussions?


I saw this study last year, and there’s a few aspects of it you’re neglecting to share here:

  • This study covered all kinds of online interactions, including social media platforms
  • The statistics that delve specifically into online games paint a starkly different picture
  • This study does not account for the overwhelming number of women who choose to not communicate via in-game communication methods, which leads to a bit of confirmation bias
  • The study also indicates that the reported instances of women being harassed online has more than doubled since 2017

I would strongly encourage anyone sharing polls and statistics to avoid cherry picking only the specific blurbs that defend your viewpoint. This topic is far more complex than a single statistic.


There are more pressing matters than a tournament that extremely few of us are actually participating in. You know, like the extremely prolonged lack of content stretching over a span of years?

Look, I usually agree with your posts, but I’m gonna hard disagree here. Personally, I don’t care about a tournament that only women play in. That’s great! They deserve to be able to play in an environment where they can feel like they can speak in comms freely and not be harassed. But that’s not content, and literally anything other than content (or information about upcoming content) I do not care about.