Esports and The Glass Cliff: Overwatch League May Get First Woman Player


You ever heard of the Glass Cliff? It’s the phenomenon where women tend to be put into positions of power and notoriety only after an institution runs into significant trouble. There are a few implications to this: women tend to “get their chance” only when the ship is taking on water, and women in prominent positions tend to be held responsible for problems they inherited. That’s not to say the pattern shows nefarious intent, and on balance a flawed opportunity is better than no opportunity at all, but it’s a pattern to think about this week, as the Overwatch League’s hands-down worst team—the Shanghai Dragons—has reportedly recruited the league’s first female player.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Every day we thank god for Rob Zacny and his savage indictments of modern capitalism.


I’m sorry, but… I have read the article 3 times over now and I’m still not sure what point Rob is trying to make? Is it that it’s good that Geguri has gotten shot at the pros, but it’s on a bad team, and it could lead the her shouldering the blame, which is bad? Or is it that Geguri got her shot, which is good, but only after a complete meltdown of the previous roster, which speaks to societal and cultural biases towards women, which is bad? Or is it that the fact that Geguri wasn’t recruited at all by any teams until now speaks to the aforementioned biases and discriminations, and that even if she does a kick ass job it will only serve to strengthen the arguments of the discriminators, and that’s bad?


The point he’s trying to make, as I read it, is: it’s great Geguri finally gets recognised, it just sucks it took a roster meltdown and significant public pressure to make it happen rather than it being the obvious choice it should have been from the start.

Esports, in particular, has been AWFUL with female talent. We now have a Canadian female SC2 champion, and so little was made of that I literally found out as the final game started, and I have a dedicated app to inform me of stuff happening like that! Pro DOTA has one big name female talent, and she’s a caster: Sheever. There was a rather public bout of issues at EVO not too long ago about how unfriendly the scene is to women.

Overwatch was seen as the game to change that; there’s plenty of female players, the game is designed to be diverse - and then OWL was wall to wall dudes. Geguri’s lack of a roster spot - and the array of excuses given for it - was quite controversial at the time, but the real question I have is: 12 teams, 60 players - one woman? I get that the majority of top Overwatch players are male, but surely not the entire top 60?


Thanks for clarifying and after reading it a third time I think I got on the same page.

The inclusion debate in sports is super weird for me, because my main sports that I follow are clearly segregated between men and women, so trying to wrap my head around a league where player success and opportunities are so severely hampered by cultural biases is kinda difficult to me for whatever reason, although it’s probably not a coincidence that there are no openly gay players in the NBA at the moment, now that I think about it…


One great point Rob also makes is the double-talk from eSports dudes who really really want any excuse not to discuss sexism.

When Geguri wasn’t getting signed, they said it was about merit (or lack thereof). Now that Geguri has been signed, they still want to say it’s about merit. Did Geguri’s merit as a player change drastically in just a couple short months? If not, then not getting signed at first was clearly about something else.

And we’re also seeing Geguri used by guys like Breslau as a bludgeon against any discussion of sexism whatsoever. I 100% respect her desire to be treated with the same regard as any other player. That’s fine. But we’re seeing guys overextend her stance to mean “Never discuss sexism in Overwatch. Never point out the motivation behind her past harassment. Never point out that teams’ stated reasons for not signing her didn’t make sense. Never so much as smile at the fact that there’s finally a super-skilled woman in the mix. Never question how the talent pool became male-dominated.”. And that’s messed up.


Geguri’s omission from the league was primarily indicative of how a woman can go above and beyond in achieving higher than her peers, but still get overlooked in favor of male contenders. It highlighted the inherent hypocrisy of everyone who would try to brush off criticisms about lack of inclusion with tired arguments about “proving your worth”.

What’s irritating is that the league seemed to interpret that as “we should get her in a team as soon as it’s convenient for any of us to do so, and then this whole thing will blow over” rather than, hi, maybe your entire fundamental structure needs to get reworked in such a way where league teams have to work harder to include women instead of making women shoulder all the burden.


Y’all have been way more eloquent than I could ever be regarding the topic. Thanks for clarifying certain questions I had after reading. I’m excited to see her (and hopefully more women) evolve in OWL.

On a side-note, I’ve been watching the Dragons for a bit and they always seem to be “almost there”. I wonder what will happen to the current team? Are they simply benched, or are they out of the team entirely? I have been absolutely blown away by Undead’s performance and would love to see him play side-by-side with Geguri, for example.


Exactly. Look at Asher, another player who was in a really bad Apex team that did even worse than Geguri’s, but still got recruited because he was clearly a great player, despite primarily playing Doomfist, who is even less prominent in the meta than Zarya. The differences in attitude speak for themselves.


The Dragons have stellar DPS players and not much more. The performance by their tanks and supports so far has been really underwhelming. Since Geguri is a god-tier tank, her joining makes a lot of sense, and I’m assuming the older tanks are either going to get benched or fired altogether. Since one of the other players joining is also a tank main, this seems all the more likely.


I’m very happy for Geguri. She was clearly distraught by how bad her team did at Apex 4, which is understandable given the phenomenon described in this article. But not only is she going to be criticized a lot more heavily, given the xQc-Muma debacle, I don’t believe she can expect much support from the league. I hope I’m wrong, but…