May to June 2023 saw HER Galaxy host a $100,000 women-only Apex Legends tournament intended to uplift and showcase women’s talent. Following the chaotic and inconsistent management of a divisive tournament, players still anxiously await their prize money payments.
When HER Galaxy was announced on March 25 with a massive $100,000 prize pool, members of the Apex Women’s competitive scene hoped the new investment in their esport would be beneficial, offering them the chance to participate in one of the most competitive tournaments ever hosted. Many had high hopes due to HER Galaxy’s parent organization, Galaxy Racer, being one of the largest gaming communities worldwide. However, what should have been a blessing seemed to turn into a curse.
HER Galaxy was an event riddled with issues from its very conception. In a shocking decision, the tournament was limited to North American players only. This highly divisive move immediately shut out several highly influential members of the scene, including EMEA ALGS player Kornelia “Sabz” Zawistowska and prominent tournament organizer Jenni “Yuusaki” Niemi. UK-based Apex player Nati commented that the decision had left many European pro women “heartbroken,” with player and streamer Belleroui adding that it was “sad to yet again see [non-NA players’] work and passion overlooked.”
Given the small size of the Apex Women’s pro competitive scene, region locking the competition even split established teams, with many women usually choosing to compete with teammates in other countries due to a significantly smaller pool of players to choose from. As a result, many were left scrambling to find a new team in time for the qualifying rounds.
The tournament organization did not improve from there, with many competitors complaining of poor communication from the organizers.
As an end to what for many participants was a disappointing event, payments have yet to be received as of Dec. 1, despite the tournament concluding on June 26. These missing payments allegedly include the $40,000 owed to the winners Team Cuties: Kathleen, Melani, and Val.
Concerns regarding payment have exploded into the public sphere following HerGalaxy’s announcement on Nov. 30 that the organization will be moving operations away from esports to focus on content creation and streaming.
An email was sent to those to whom the organization owes prize money in the hours before this announcement. This email was the first direct contact many players have received since June, and it promised competitors that the money they are owed would be paid “in the month of December.” However, all winners tickets in the tournament’s Discord server to collect information that players gave to HER Galaxy have disappeared. Competitor Hannah “Woomy” expressed to Dot Esports the feeling that the organization simply “won’t communicate with anyone.”
Although some hope their email demonstrates a long-awaited plan to pay what competitors are due, the community’s trust in HER Galaxy has reached a new low. After being divided, left in the dark, and witnessing what should have been a revolutionary moment turn into an agonizing wait for payment, some regret even being involved at all.
Lightlyrs, who played for team AfterMath during the tournament, admitted to Dot Esports that for her, the HER Galaxy tournament was “The most miserable I’ve been in comp.” She explained that “HER Galaxy was one of the worst things to happen to the scene,” citing the division of teams, exclusion of non-NA players, and the incitement of infighting as reasons for the competition being a “flat out waste of our time.”
The issue of non-payments in women’s esports has been a consistent disruption throughout 2023, extending far beyond the Apex community. Dot Esports reported in November that competitors and staff in the Rocket League Women’s Car Ball series had not been paid by league owners Gamers First for months, despite promises of mending an already fragmented community due to previous mismanagement by Kansas City Pioneers.
While the narrative in esports is currently geared toward improving inclusivity and equality, a disturbing trend has become worryingly prominent. Women’s competitive leagues appear consistently mismanaged, underfunded, and riddled with organizations overpromising hopeful players.
HER Galaxy has been contacted for comment by Dot Esports, but has not responded at time of publishing.
Disclosure: GAMURS Group shares a shareholder with Galaxy Racer/HER Galaxy in Elysian Park Ventures.