Emily ‘Invidia’ Brazzill, a participant and co-organiser for Farnborough Sixth Form College’s esports teams, tells us about her experience in the British Esports Championships from a female perspective.
British Esports’ Alice Leaman interviews Emily about her time with the side, as part of our Women in Esports initiative.
Emily’s preferred pronouns: she/her
For those who don’t know you, please tell us about yourself and your background.
Hi! My name is Emily ‘Invidia’ Brazzill and I was both a student organiser and a player for the Farnborough Sixth Form College esports teams.
I mainly play games casually, except for the couple years I played as part of the British Esports Championships, and will be moving on to university this year.
Have you always had an interest in gaming and esports?
The games I tend to gravitate towards happen to be single player games as opposed to competitive multiplayer games, mainly because it’s easier for me to become immersed in the environment and it’s a way for me to let go of stress.
I only started playing competitive games when my friend encouraged me to buy Overwatch in 2017, which then became one of my most played games across the past few years.
I actively started trying to improve my gameplay and knowledge of the game when I joined the Farnborough Foxes in January 2019, and since then Overwatch has been the only game I’ve considered playing in any sort of tournament.
Farnborough Sixth Form College have been taking part in the British Esports Championships since the beginning. How have you found your experience of the matches and grassroots participation within education?
The times we participated in the British Esports Championships were some of my fondest memories of college. I played Overwatch outside of college, but it was different playing as part of the tournament because you knew who you were against and you knew what you were working towards.
The matches themselves would be quite varied – we were lucky enough to have some extremely good players because of the amount of people we had in our college. When making teams you’re limited to the percentage of people that play the game and also attend the institution.
It sometimes felt like how far you went in the Championships was luck of the draw with the old system, but despite that, the friendly competition was always welcomed, and motivated us to improve.
Can you explain the routines and processes involved in being part of an esports team in our Championships?
My first year of participating was quite different to the most recent season I played in the Championships. There wasn’t really a structure to how we played, but our team (and the original Farnborough Falcons) met up frequently both inside and outside of college. We got to know each other better so that we would be more comfortable in-game, knowing that we wouldn’t take each other seriously with mistakes and such.
We just practised when we could, worked on tactics and kept up to date with the meta which got us as far as we could, and we were happy with that.
The Winter 2020 Season was very different as we had our own stakes to win, or at least get to the grand finals, which we were under the impression may have impacted the next year of esports teams.
We switched up the teams massively, mixing both second years and first years with the highest ranks for each role they played. From then on, it was a mixture of scrimming against high level teams, to VOD reviews from one of the first year students with more esports experience than the rest of us.
What advice would you give other students looking to take part in esports tournaments with their school/college?
Talk to whichever staff members you think may be relevant. Even if esports isn’t widely acknowledged by your school/college, there’ll be some way for you to get started if you express an interest in it.
Esports for us was pretty much student-run until February 2020, so when I became co-organiser with Michael/Senseishark, we essentially went on a wild goose chase around college to talk to whoever necessary to kick things off again.
First speak to the media/IT department, as they’ll likely be the people you need to talk to about using PCs at a certain time. Try to find a staff member that’ll be willing to supervise you and advise you on what you can and can’t do, since they’ll be trained in safeguarding and GDPR, which is vital especially for esports teams representing their schools/colleges.
Even if they don’t know anything about the game, you can always help them out with team placement and anything that requires game knowledge, while they can handle the general organisation. If you manage to get the basics set up, then advertisement and trials for the game you’re planning on participating in will also be key.
There’ll be times when you’ll have to limit the amount of people that can participate. As hard as it is to turn someone down for something that they enjoy doing, there’s always the option to put them down as a sub or arrange extracurricular sessions unrelated to the esports tournament.
If you can’t convince staff members to let you participate in esports tournaments such as the British Esports Championships, then there’s always the option to start small with lunchtime sessions in the media/ICT suites and grow from there. Even if you’re using rubbish PCs to play low-spec games for 45 minutes, it’s still a start.
Gaming is a growing hobby and profession which is yet to be acknowledged by many schools and teachers, and its acknowledgement starts with the passion students have for their interests. While education is important, it’s equally important for schools and colleges to be a place where you express yourself freely through your hobbies and have the resources to do so.
Which role do you usually play in your team?
I tend to play support in game. From the beginning of my time playing Overwatch, I generally played support because my friends usually played the other roles, so I became accustomed to that role.
During the 2020 split, I played as the main support. Although my main was Ana, I was happy to primarily play Lucio and Mercy to accommodate both the meta and our flex support player. When communicating with teammates in-game, my calls were primarily just info calls: this involved information such as enemy positioning, used or held cooldowns by both teammates and enemies, as well as statuses (HP, antiheals, stuns etc).
How have you found playing in a mixed team?
Playing in a mixed team didn’t faze me, since I was used to playing in teams of mixed genders when I played outside of college. Because we knew each other outside of gaming, it was no different from making friends with people in any other extracurricular society – we were all there to play games, and thankfully no one saw a reason to treat each other differently because of our gender.
Playing esports competitively can enable the development of many key skills. Have you gained or nurtured any skills through participating in esports?
Regardless of the role played in the team, everyone contributes in some way, which develops teamwork and communication skills because you learn to be concise with what to say, and what’s important to focus on in-game. Not only this, but I found myself to be a lot more confident knowing that there were a lot of other people that had the same hobbies as me.
I genuinely thought gaming was a strange hobby to have while I was in secondary school, so it was nice to know that it had been acknowledged by the college when I joined.
For me personally, I think my biggest take-away from being part of esports is that I became better with organisation and preparation through managing the teams.
Looking back on everything, there are definitely things I could have done better, but it’s just part of the learning experience and I now know what to do for similar situations in the future.
Have you personally experienced any difficulties within the grassroots esports scene due to your gender?
Generally for the British Esports Championships, no one knew that I was female, so I never encountered any problems in-game. As mentioned earlier, my teammates were all really welcoming and gender was never an issue between us. So, in the Championships, I could focus on the game and communicating with my team rather than the opposing team, which was ideal.
I had some uncertain experiences with post-game communication where I loosely became friends with other participants, but conversations only kept up for a few days, maybe on-and-off over a few weeks before dying down, so I didn’t really have many issues with it overall.
Even if I did have any problems with opponents, because it was a tournament between schools and colleges, the environments were very controlled, so communicating issues to staff and admins was quite easy, and players are also protected by the rules of the tournament. If all else fails: mute, block & report are some wonderful buttons.
What are your opinions on female-only tournaments?
I have a mixed opinion on female-only tournaments, but on the whole, I don’t think there should be a separation between male and female leagues. Some traditional sports for example, tend to separate into male and female sports due to their biological differences. However with esports, there isn’t a biological difference significant enough (at least to my knowledge) to impact the way they play.
Personally, I think players should be scouted because of their skill and not chosen for the sake of diversity, because not only does that limit the team in terms of skill range, it’s also unfair to those who have been excluded because they weren’t male/female.
Despite this, I’m not opposed to the idea of female-only tournaments, either. Bad experiences can impact someone’s will to go back to the game, which can be true to any extent. All-female tournaments could provide women in esports with the alternative to feel comfortable and included where they may otherwise feel anxious about criticism or harassment in a mixed team. So in my eyes, there isn’t a right or wrong as to how tournaments should be separated.
How do you feel grassroots and professional esports can gain a better representation?
I think gaming in general is socially seen as something negative and introverted, but only by those who don’t know much about it. I think emphasis on the benefits of esports to parents in particular will go a long way, especially since the younger generation are vital in the growth of esports.
As esports grows as an industry with the potential that it has, I believe societal mindsets will change with it in time.
About the British Esports Championships
The not-for-profit British Esports Association runs the separate British Esports Championships for students aged 12+ in schools and colleges across the UK.
School and college teams play each other throughout the academic term in weekly online fixtures, across 3 different age appropriate games: Overwatch (12+ PEGI age rating), Rocket League (3+), and League of Legends (12+).
To view the latest Championships 2020/21 update and changes, see our latest announcement.
Thinking of getting involved? Registrations are now open for the 2020/21 British Esports Championships!
Women in Esports
The British Esports Association launched a Women in Esports campaign last year to promote diversity and inclusivity within the esports industry.