The CBLOL, Brazil’s top-tier League of Legends competition, now has three female casters.
For the 2021 season, CBLOL Academy will have Maria ‘Fogueta’ Julia, Layze ‘Lahgolas’ Brandão and Ravena Dutra (known simply as Ravena) as part of the broadcasting team. The three of them talked to ESI in Portuguese about their careers as casters, about the industry, and the opportunity that they have to open a new path for female casters in the League of Legends community in Brazil.
Has esports in Brazil become more inclusive?
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Ravena Dutra, who started as a content creator on YouTube, explained that her plan wasn’t to be a caster. “I started creating content back in 2015, but it was something more for fun that I wanted to do, it wasn’t something focused on the competitive ecosystem.”
Given that Ravena is the most experienced of the three new recruits, does she think the esports industry in Brazil is now more accepting of female casters?
“That’s why I’m fighting to this day with my work. When I started back in 2016, I didn’t have a reference point. When I started casting, it was only me and Ana Xisdê as far as I remember. Later, she moved to Overwatch and I [was] the only person fighting for representation. But yes, I feel that people are looking at it with new eyes. I don’t know if it is because of public pressure, but I’m glad that at least opportunities are being given.”
Here in Brazil, it’s common to see women just being reporters or presenters for esports events. And that always felt like a way to just ‘fill the gap’ for representation. “They only see us as a pretty face, and don’t see our content,” Ravena said. “We are breaking this paradigm.”
Due to her experience and relevance as caster, Ravena also inspires other women to join the competitive ecosystem. “It’s surreal to me. When I started, my female references were Sjokz and Froskurinn, but here in Brazil I didn’t have one. And for me, it’s amazing to be a person that others will look up to.”
There are analysts like Froskurinn and Sjokz in the LEC, but Fogueta, having been the first woman to appear on an official Riot Games broadcast as a shoutcaster, is helping to open a new path for women in broadcasting.
“I remember for the announcement, me and my friends were talking on Discord, waiting for the announcement to go public, and we were celebrating. ‘Wow, the first female shoutcaster in CBLOL!’ … Being in the CBLOL is a big deal … I’m making history.”
And even though CBLOL isn’t considered a major league by Riot Games, the League Of Legends ecosystem in Brazil, by the numbers, is enormous. In mid-2020, CBLOL 2020 Split 2 achieved an average concurrent viewership (ACV) of over 175,000 according to Esports Charts, a hugely impressive figure for a three-month-long event.
For Fogueta, having herself, Ravena and Lahgolas in the CBLOL show how things are changing. “When you see stuff like that, it warms your heart, you know? Things are changing.”
“CBLOL stepped out and hired three women, knowing that it could lead to toxicity from the fanbase. But they accepted the challenge and did it anyway. By inserting us, they are not just inserting women. In the case of Lahgolas, she is bringing the black community with her, and in my case, I have a dialogue with the LGBT community, and I’m bringing them with me.”
Lahgolas is the first black analyst in a CBLOL broadcast. She said that when Riot reached out to her, she was surprised. “I didn’t have any idea that it could happen. I was really happy. I was obviously thinking that I could do more tournaments, gain more prominence, but I didn’t imagine that would be with Riot.
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“I got a lot of messages from girls saying that they want to play in CBLOL so I can narrate their game, or saying that they want to be casters as well. I believe that this is a big step by a huge company like Riot. League Of Legends is still the most popular game in the world, and I think that can only open new doors in the industry.”
This year is also the first time that five female pro players are in the CBLOL Academy. Last year, Gabriela ‘Harumi’ Silvério, a support player for Rensga Esports, was the first female player in an official Riot competition here in Brazil. Now there are five players that could possibly play and represent women in pro competition.
Hopefully this move from Riot increases demand for female esports talent. Having Fogueta, Lahgolas and Ravena sends a message loud and clear to people that think “women are not able to play or comment on esports”. The time for letting this childish and antiquated hangup go once and for all is long overdue.