League of Legends is pretty big in the Philippines, so big in fact that the premier tournament runner, Garena Esports, even hosts an all-female league. This tournament, dubbed the “Iron Solari League” after a popular skin for Leona, a well-known female champion within the game, most recently had a stop in the Hashnet Cyber Lounge in Pasig City. However, a new ruling for the next event has many fans scratching their heads—when the Iron Solari League meets again in a couple weeks, teams must limit how many LGBT members they can place on their roster.
The exact ruling is clear: “Each team will be allowed to have a maximum of one (1) Gay/Transgendered woman for the entirety of the tournament day.”
Garena even specifies that this person cannot be substituted for another gay or transgendered individual in any given day.
The benefit that an LGBT member would bring to a team is unclear, but Garena insists that several participants have brought legitimate concerns about their participation.
We seriously look at ensuring there’s a fair level playing field for all participants. And there are arguments and concerns from other participants who disputes that Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members may probably have some unfair advantage.
While LGBT culture in the Philippines is definitely unique and distinctive, many fans are questioning the ruling, especially since one’s sexual preference has zero bearing on one’s ability to play a video game. In fact, gender itself has never proven to give a physical advantage in the world of competitive video gaming.
It’s understandable for the tournament to make a rule to prevent a male gamer from dressing like a female for the sole purpose of competing in the female-only Iron Solari League. But unfortunately, this rule appears to cross the line into pure discrimination. After the ruling was posted, many took to social media in response.
The rule also doesn’t directly address what happens if a team member’s sexual identity or orientation changes throughout the course of the league, but by the letter of the law, it’d probably end poorly for the team. If a team is found to be in violation, the rules read that the team will be banned for a full year—even if it happens an unspecified amount of time after the event, without the knowledge of the whole team.
That brings up another question: How can Garena possibly enforce the rule? Some kind of test? A gay-registration council? Or, perhaps, they’ll turn to the newly-regulated video gaming gods themselves and take advantage of the legendary gaydar?
Garena does mention that the tournament will be monitoring the impact of the ruling and is willing to engage in open discussion with players in the Iron Solari League. As it stands, the rule reads like satire, but it’s really just the sad truth.
League of Legends developer Riot Games responded to Iron Solari League’s ruling by taking a pro-LGBT stance:
As for what action Riot Games might take with their partner Garena, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Update 1/4 10:23am CT: Garena has decided to “remove these restrictions completely” after discussing the ruling with its partners.
Image via Riot Games