Seattle start-up Unikrn has brought together a team of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players to compete in professional esports. Team Unikrn will be the only competitive Counter-Strike team composed entirely of women.
This is the first esports team fielded by Unikrn, which launched globally in September. It’s a website that facilitates betting on matches in esports like League of Legends, DOTA 2, Counter Strike: GO, and others.
Back in June, Unikrn’s CEO Rahul Sood announced that he would be offering financial sponsorship to any League of Legends team that had a woman player. Sood’s motivation was to give his daughter a role model in the sport.
“I’m going to make a public call here,” Sood said at the time. “Unikrn will sponsor any professional LCS team with a woman on it. I will do whatever we can to help promote and connect that team with other brands that I currently work with and have worked with in the past. That’s my personal commitment. This isn’t a gimmick, this is an effort to make a difference in a space that I can control.”
Now Team Unikrn, composed of women from all over Europe, will compete in the notoriously male-dominated world of first-person shooters. Women in professional esports are getting more visible by the year, but a team composed entirely of women is uncommon.
And for Unikrn, it’s all business.
“Historically, female teams have honestly been sort of gimmicky in a way,” Sood told the Seattle Times. “People will hire female teams and they don’t think about the competition, they think about parading around, it’s been more about the sponsorship. For us, it’s about the competition.”
The team is made up of five women: Julia Strunkowski, Melania Mylioti, Sophia Benfakir, Camilla Hart, and Perrine Allesiardo.
Allesiardo and Benfakir are both from France, while Mylioti comes from Greece, Strunkowski from Germany, and Hart from the United Kingdom.