In the British Esports Student Champs, we have a wide range of students that compete with a variety of different backgrounds. With more women and non-binary individuals taking part in the Student Champs, we spoke to the Wilmington Academy: Leigh Academies Trust Femme Fatale team – an all-female group who competed in Division Three Overwatch this season.
Although they did not make it to the finals, the team plan to come back next season with a vengeance, and showcase their skills once more.
This seasons’ roster is:
Amber ’Akibimii’ Gleed
Poppie ‘NeonJelliexx’ Foard
Molly ‘Quirkyfrog’ Chapman
Jessica ‘CJesster’ Spencer
Grace ‘DarkAngel’ O’Sullivan
Sophia ‘swans659’ Washington
As with any new team, it takes some time to get used to playing together – but the Wilmington girls were able to bond very quickly and become a strong team.
Coming into the Student Champs, the team had only played together for a couple of months, however that did not stop them from making the most of every moment to develop their skills.
Amber explained: “In terms of practising when we were playing matches every week, we did try and get at least one, maybe two training sessions in. It was hard to try and fit it around everyone else’s’ schedules, but even when we weren’t playing as a team, people were still playing together in their free time.
“As a co-captain, I was hit with helping more with training and getting people to learn different heroes. This meant I was sitting down with people in the training range trying to drill these things into them – like I spent ages teaching the girls to do the Mercy ‘superjump’, and when they finally got it, I realised we were slowly getting there.”
Between them, each player had their own unique strengths for different roles in Overwatch, and they were able to play on that and gradually improve as a whole.
Working together, the Femme Fatale took on a variety of opponents and were able to become more coherent as a team with each match, as well as gaining experience in the competitive scene.
The Student Champs experience:
It can be quite daunting competing in esports for the first time with a team, but the Wilmington girls took on the challenge and dove straight into the Overwatch action earlier this year.
Jess said: “There are a lot of positives as well as negatives – The negative being we didn’t win a match, but the positives being that as the games progressed, we got so much better as a team. The competitiveness of the Student Champs helped us focus a lot more on the game itself, and that really helped.”
Grace added: “When it came to our last match, you could see the effort that we had put in, and even though we didn’t win it, all the practice and how we had really come together as a team was shown in that match.”
Whilst the result was not one that the team wanted, the journey has had an incredible impact on each player, and how they are now able to take those skills and push themselves even further.
The Student Champs bring many people from across the country together to compete, but for the Wilmington team, the Champs brought them together a bit closer to home.
Grace explained: “Before this, the six of us had never spoken to each other before, and now we’re all playing together. We are all in different year groups, so we have been able to meet people we wouldn’t normally interact with to come together as a team, and I feel like that’s been one of the most enjoyable parts.”
Representation of women in esports:
In esports women have not always been represented in a positive light, and whilst this is on an upwards trajectory, things like toxicity are still prevalent.
The Femme Fatale team are no strangers to toxicity towards women in esports, but they are working to promote positive representations of female players.
Grace said: “To be helping to promote the inclusion of women in esports, it feels really good. A lot of the time when you see women in esports, it’s in a quite negative light where you’re getting toxic players having a go for no reason. Promoting a positive light for female players is a really good start.”
Amber added: “ I think we’re all collectively proud to be doing this, because for ages gaming has been a ‘boys thing’. Admittedly, even though we weren’t winning games, we were holding our own against teams that were predominantly male-focused, so just having the ability to say ‘well we weren’t winning, but we were still giving you a tough fight’, was amazing. We tried our hardest and we can only improve from here, so next season we are looking to run a few more teams down.”
Outside of the Student Champs, there are areas in the wider industry that need to be changed in order to give women and non-binary people the same opportunities to succeed.
Jess said: “Female representation has been getting better over the last few years, with more people getting into esports, getting into speed-running, and getting into gaming as a whole – and maybe one day I will be able to say ‘yes, there is enough female representation’.”
Toxicity in Overwatch:
Toxicity is something that you will find in every title in esports, but for Overwatch there have been instances where things have gotten out of hand. For the Femme Fatale team, they all have different experiences of toxicity in Overwatch.
Amber explains: “I’ve been playing Overwatch now for god-knows how long, and most games don’t have toxicity and you don’t get anything, but sometimes the minute someone finds out you’re a girl, you become a target.
“There seems to be the instant association with women being a support player, like there’s no way that you can be a DPS player, so yeah you do get it, but in my experience, most people don’t pay attention to it.”
Fortunately, both Grace and Jess have not had much experience with toxicity, and hopefully that stays this way further into their esports careers.
In terms of toxicity as a whole, it is most prominent in Overwatch in competitive modes, but higher stakes are not an opportunity for people to discriminate.
Advice for the future:
As the team are all just starting out in the competitive side of esports, they all have a long and positive career ahead of them to explore.
Just from their time competing in the Student Champs, they have learnt a lot about the industry and how to progress and develop.
Amber said: “My advice would be that even if you don’t think that you’re able to play at the same level as others, there’s a team for everyone. There will be a division for you, and you can work with your team to grow. But even if you don’t think you can play like the pros, you will be able to fit in and find a team.”
Grace added: “I feel like you should just go for it even if you don’t think you can. You can keep trying, cause for me I didn’t really play Overwatch before doing this, and I was put as the reserve player, and then when someone dropped out I had to step up and become the main player. You can learn even if you don’t think you’re that great, and you can progress with people helping.”
If you would like to see more about what the Femme Fatale team are up to, check out the Wilmington Academy Esports Twitter.
Are there other female players or teams you would like us to feature? Let us know on the Women in Esports Twitter and we may use your idea in the future. Also, you can join our Women in Esports Discord community – so hop into the server for community nights, and to meet like minded people within the industry in a welcoming space.
By Bryony-Hope Green