Captain of the UK’s newest esports team on difficulties attracting women gamers

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

The female captain behind the UK’s newest esports team has spoken about the difficulty in getting other women onboard the competitive sport.

Leah Viathan, real name Leah Alexandra, has been recruiting gamers for Fordzilla, a Europe-wide effort formed of five national teams run by carmaker Ford.

The 26-year-old has streamed on Twitch for almost five years and presented for Xbox On, but now she is hoping to find the country’s “hidden gems” and try to get them to the next level.

According to Leah, gaming in general is much more accessible to women but esports is a new challenge because more men have been playing for longer.

Leah says esports is a viable career for those committed to it (Ford/PA)

“It’s quite difficult to encourage other women because it has to come from the bottom really, especially esports, it’s so competitive,” she told the PA news agency.

“For esports a lot of the people who are getting into it are people who have practised for years and years, so for many women who are only just starting to explore the world of gaming, they’ve not had that experience coming into it over years of practice.

“So it’s really important to show to younger women and all the people getting into it that it is normal and fine to be into gaming, and if they want to be competitive that’s completely fine, that it’s not just a male-dominated sport, they can absolutely get into it if that’s what they are interested in.”

The avid gamer also said esports is a viable career, but hopefuls will need to do more than be a pro at one particular game.

Fordzilla launched a player recruitment event in London for its UK team at the beginning of December (Ford/PA)

“If you are talented enough at a game to the point where you can compete competitively you can make a lot of money out of it,” she explained.

“But you have to take that further into a full life-time long career you have to be professional, you have to be driven, you have to communicate well.”

Ford began looking for potential recruits at an event in London at the beginning of December 2019, with try-outs playing Forza or Gran Turismo.

Emmanuel Lubrani, senior manager of brand communications and content development at Ford of Europe, said the move is a “completely natural evolution” for the automobile giant.

“Going into next year we will organise more online competitions, we will organise proper Ford events and by mid-year next year we hope to have a pan-European Fordzilla team made of the best drivers of our five market teams,” he said.