SFU Esports Teams Give Space for Women and Gender-Diverse Players to Succeed

June 19, 2023
Members of the Sapphire Esports Club Team

With esports on the rise, you might think of large arenas with teams competing against each other playing multi-player online video games for glory and prizes. While competition is at the heart of any sport, what you might miss while thinking of esports is the positive impact it has on the players regarding friendships, togetherness and a sense of belonging.

At SFU, the Sapphire and Ruby Valorant esports club teams are inclusive spaces for women and gender-diverse people including non-binary and intersex folks to get together with people who share similar experiences and form bonds while participating in an activity they love – gaming. Speaking with members from both teams, it was apparent what influence having a space like this has on their time as SFU students both socially and academically.

“Meeting all the people on the team has been life-changing,” says Kelly ‘Ktruue’ Trieu, a second-year business major on the Sapphire team. “I have so many people I can reach out to who I can study or play games with now.”

“I live in the dorms up at SFU Burnaby and I hadn’t made a lot of friends here,” adds Tori ‘Doryytori’ Cheung from the Sapphire team who intends to pursue linguistics as her major. “But being on a team and getting to know other teams helped me a lot.”

While the impacts of these teams on the players have been positive, it’s still important to carve out spaces for people to flourish and receive support in what is seemingly a male-dominated domain.

“Sometimes it can be intimidating and alienating to be a woman in such a male-dominated gaming space like Valorant,” says Jessica ‘Solar’ Ho, a fifth-year criminology major on the Sapphire team. “But I feel at home when playing on a team with other people like me. Gaming is more fun having a group of players I can relate to.”

When asked for advice for women, non-binary and intersex people who are interested in joining esports, Ho advises, “Reach out to us because we accept people of all skill levels. The teams are there to support people who are interested in joining esports because we understand the barriers that they might face.”

If you’re looking for more info about esports clubs at SFU, click here.