This Hearthstone tournament isn't allowing women to play and here's why (update)

Competitive Hearthstone players interested in participating in an upcoming eSports tournament led by the Finnish Assembly will only be allowed entrance if they are male players, reads a statement from the company's official website that was later confirmed by PC Gamer.

"The participation is open only to Finnish male players," the statement reads.

The tournament is part of ongoing qualifiers leading to the IeSF World Championship tournament, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from Nov. 12-17. Winners of the qualifying tournament will receive a paid trip to represent Finland in the world championship tournament, while the prize pool is 1,000 euros on top of the trip to IeSF.

"Your information is indeed correct, the tournament is open to Finnish male players only," Markus "Olodyn" Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier told the publication. "In accordance with the International e-Sports Federation's (IeSF) tournament regulations, since the main tournament event is open to male players only. This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8 [round of eight]) among other things."

According to a statement made by the IeSF on the organisation's official Facebook page, the decision to create a male-only tournament was "made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.

"This decision serves two main goals of the IeSF:

"1 - promoting female players. We know that eSports is largely dominated by male players and females players are actually a portion of the overall player base. By hosting a female-only competition, we strive to promote female gaming on a global scale.

"2 - International standards. IeSF is very close to get eSports recognised as a true sports like it should be. Part of that efforts is to comply with the international sports regulations. For example, chess is also divided into male / female leagues."

Despite the suggestion that this is necessary to avoid conflict, gender segregation in eSports remains a controversial issue.

"Gender segregation is not necessary, especially when compared to physical sports," eSports analyst Michael Cohen told Polygon. "The perception that gender-only tournaments can be helpful, especially in favour of female players, has been mixed on both sides. Gender segregation can help promote female players and potentially female interest, but there's been no proof of correlation to make that an accepted reality.

"Think of gender-only tournaments similar to region-only tournaments in the sense that they help promote and grow specific groups of people. For the sake of competition, the distinction between genders can be perceived as needless separation or rounding-out a healthy demographic of players and audience for a more marketable subculture."

Update: The International e-Sports Federation posted this update on its Facebook page this morning:

To all our fans and e-Sport enthusiasts,

In the last hours we have received lots of feedback from you regarding the IeSF 6th e-Sports World Championship, particularly regarding the male/female tournament division.

We want to thank you for your interest in e-Sports and for sharing your opinions. The e-Sports community opinion is always important to the IeSF.

Our top priority is to promote e-Sports in the best ways we can. We believe that listening is important, and we're now collecting your opinions from the social media, and we will update soon.

Thanks for your patience!

Update: IeSF is reversing its policy on gender division within eSports tournaments but will retain all-women divisions.

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