Unikrn have today announced their first foray into team ownership with an all-female competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team.
The team, comprised of five European women from the UK, France, Greece and Germany, was formed in conjunction with Luxbet, a division of Unikrn's global partner and wagering service Tabcorp.
The formation of this team comes five months after Unikrn's founder, ex-Microsoft Ventures GM Rahul Sood, posted an open call for premier LCS League of Legends teams to take on a female player, for which he would provide sponsorship in kind.
I've always been a big advocate for women in technology, and since we started Unikrn we've been actively looking to promote women in professional eSports," said Sood. "We took months to scout the best female competitive CS:GO players in the world to build Team Unikrn."
Team members Melania "Gina" Mylioti (Greece), Julia Julie” Strunkowski (Germany), Perrine "Lalit" Allesiardo (France), Sophia Kim” Benfakir (France) and Camilla Parmaviolet” Hart (UK) are already in training and have been competing in qualifiers for the upcoming Playing Ducks all-female tournament.
However, it is the hope of Sood and Team Unikrn's Manager, Neda Samimi, that the team can compete in tournaments against male counterparts in the future, too.
"In an ideal world, we'd see both men and women competing on the same teams, with and against each other, that's the future of eSports," said Sood. "Team Unikrn is all about professional competition and hopefully it inspires other women to take the step and build a career around eSports.”
The long-term goal for Unikrn is to create a full-time, professional team with necessary infrastructure allowing them to focus on training and competing.
Although there are no impossible barriers for women to get into professional gaming, the communities tend to be male dominated, online bullying is everywhere and sexism does exist,” said Neda Samimi, Team Unikrn Manager. Knowing this, the broader community is very supportive of women in gaming, and I'm excited that Unikrn is using our platform to help create opportunities for female gamers!”
Though beginning life as an eSports bookmaker, Unikrn has now diversified into an amorphous "entertainment and engagement brand". It is unknown how this status affects the legitimacy of the team in Valve's eyes, as CS:GO's developer has previously outright banned teams from having betting site sponsors or owners, in the case of CSGO Lounge forming a team in September.