Women are becoming more and more prevalent in competitive gaming as the scene gains increasing recognition – especially in Australia. We spoke to ShadowFax about her time in pro gaming and how, if at all, her gender has affected her experiences.

Esports and competitive gaming is becoming more and more of a viable career path in recent years. Tournaments around the world are offering prize money on par with annual salaries – all you have to do is be the very best. While Australia is definitely still catching up, leagues like the Gfinity Challenger Series, IEM and Couchwarriors Tournaments are proving that there’s definitely an interest Down Under.

While it may seem to some that esports is a male-dominated industry, the girls are there, biding their time, waiting in the wings for their big shot. For Mads – aka ShadowFax – it’s been a dream to become a pro gamer since she was a young.

“I’ve always been a competitive person and all throughout my childhood I was a fanatical sports player, even making it to the international stage for sport. So competitiveness and the ability to train is something that’s built within me.”

Mads was fascinated by how far the gaming scene in Australia had come in such a short time. “The moment I saw the competitive scene in Australia, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I missed the feeling of training and achieving things as a team.”

Being a successful female gamer with her own mixed competitive team, Mads hasn’t observed a difference between her and her male counterparts when it comes to being noticed.

“I don’t think that it is more difficult for women to get noticed – [because] it’s probably the opposite. When women join the scene most people pay attention to them in the first place; I just think that it’s a matter of proving their skill from there on out.”

This includes being approached by potential sponsors or brands with an interest in her, with many companies, it would seem, simply seeking diversity.

“For big corporations, a lot of the time one of their big directives is gender equality and inclusion,” says Mads, who doesn’t see this as a downside. ”I get a lot of companies reaching out to me since starting a mixed gendered team and my biggest imperative is making sure that these companies genuinely want to help develop female skill and want to listen to what women have to say, and not just fill a quota or tick off a corporate directive. Big companies love the idea of a gender equal industry and esports has the capability to be that – it’s really about constantly asking, ‘what do women need to get to the top and how can a company support that?’ It’s important that we talk to individual women themselves to understand their needs.”

Mads sees a bright future for women in gaming, and is an advocate for its success. With Geguri joining the Overwatch League, more female gamers will be able to see notable role models in amongst the pros, and this can only be a good thing.

“I’ve definitely seen more women paying attention to esports now that it’s getting more coverage and now that there are more initiatives in getting women into esports.”

According to Mads, the most important thing now is to promote female role models in the industry.

“Also asking female players currently in the industry what support they need to become the best, and actually listening to them,” she adds. “Encouraging females to become more involved in all areas of esports, from playing and helping with live production, to managing teams, game publishing and esports business will have a huge impact in how the industry is steered in the future.”