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Calling All Heroes: Overwatch League, Blizzard introduce new inclusivity program for underrepresented genders

Initial offerings include a Challengers Cup and Caster Camp that raise up underrepresented genders.

Fans and members of the Overwatch community have been critical of the competitive scene’s gender disparity since its inception—and for good reason. 

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In the Overwatch League’s five-year existence, there has only been one female player: former Shanghai Dragons tank Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon, who no longer plays competitively. The Overwatch Contenders community has also only seen a handful of female or nonbinary competitors in its history, with many potential talents lost to toxicity and a lack of opportunities.  

As Overwatch 2 enters early access on Oct. 4, the game promises to bring a new, better era of play to every member of the community. The Overwatch League is also committing to this promise, partnering up with its parent game to support the Calling All Heroes initiative. 

Calling All Heroes looks to create an “inclusive game and competitive environment for everyone,” noting the recent addition of Defense Matrix anti-toxicity tools in Overwatch 2 as a step in the right direction. To further the goal of inclusivity, the Calling All Heroes initiative will be hosting a Challengers Cup and Caster Camp to raise the star power of players and talent from underrepresented genders. 

Caster Camp

Both the Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders scenes are, luckily, filled with talent representatives from many walks of life. Casters like Jen “LemonKiwi” Pichette, Rosemary “Nekkra” Kelley, and Victoria “VikkiKitty” Perez lead the charge on Overwatch League casts while the league’s Watchpoint desk is corralled and curated by longtime host Soe Gschwind.   

Despite this representation, the talent population in Overwatch and many esports still skews male. To help equalize that ratio in the future, the Caster Camp aims to provide programming to help broadcast talent from underrepresented genders get ahead in the game. 

Gschwind and caster Matt “Mr. X” Morello, along with other members of the talent crew, will provide programming on many topics, culminating in an opportunity for attendees to create a caster video reel that will be evaluated by a panel of instructors. 

“We hope that this program will help create equity in the commentating space and produce a more diverse talent pool for the Overwatch competitive ecosystem,” said a press release about Calling All Heroes. 

Those interested in the Caster Camp can register from Sept. 30 to Oct. 17 via a Google Form

Challengers Cup 

The Overwatch League’s talent lineup is unfortunately a more diverse place than the game’s Path to Pro scene. Over the years, Overwatch Contenders teams have tended to skew even more male than they did at the competitive scene’s inception. Because of this, the community has long demanded a more organized system for inclusive competition in the vein of VALORANT’s Game Changers scene. 

Overwatch is finally delivering with the Challengers Cup, which will run alongside Path to Pro competitions in late 2022. Two qualifiers will take place in October and November, running on a Swiss system into single-elimination play, with a double-elimination final held in December. 

Players must also be of an underrepresented gender, which includes but is “not limited to: transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and women-identifying individuals,” according to a press release.

Participants must complete content in a “thorough gender verification system” to partake in the cup. An additional statement from Activision Blizzard has added more context about what the “gender verification system” entails:

The Calling All Heroes verification process was built with the insights and efforts of people from marginalized spaces and their experiences in gaming. The verification process is designed to limit any people acting in bad faith and thus requires verification of accounts including Battle.Net, social media accounts and self-gender identification information. We will trust an applicant’s self gender-identification and, if an individual completes all steps, they will be accepted into the program. 

Raidiant, a “production company and platform for underrepresented genders,” will be hosting the Challengers Cup. 

Interested individuals and teams can find more information at the Calling All Heroes site

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Liz Richardson
Liz is a freelance writer and editor from Chicago. Her favorite thing is the Overwatch League; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She specializes in educational content, patch notes that (actually) make sense, and aggressively supporting Tier 2 Overwatch. When she's not writing, Liz is expressing hot takes on Twitter and making bad life choices at Target.