The Supergirl Gamer Pro is the only female-driven multi-title eSports tournament in the U.S. In its inaugural offering, it was held along with the Paul Mitcherll Neon Supergirl Pro, a female empowerment festival. That event, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, took place at the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, California, July 28-30, 2017.
The July event also includes a surf competition, part of the Supergirl Pro Series. That series is the largest all-girls action sports professional competition and lifestyle festival in the world and now includes the Supergirl Surf Pro, the six-star WSL-sanctioned all-girls surf contest which is also the largest girls’ surf contest in the world); the Supergirl Skate Pro, the largest all-girls skateboarding event in the US (held at the same time as the surfing competition and festival); and the Supergirl Snow Pro, a five-star TTR-sanctioned all-girls snowboarding slopestyle event.
Sports Destination Management: This was the first year for the eSports portion of the event. What made you decide to offer it?
Rick Bratman: Our festival is centered around female empowerment, with the goal of getting women involved in areas where they’re currently underrepresented. eSports is a classic example of this. An estimated 46 percent of gamers are women, but women represent less than one-half of one percent of the registrations in eSports tournaments. We looked at that number and said, ‘Women are smarter and more organized and we know they enjoy playing, so why are they not getting 46 percent of the opportunity?’ We saw the opportunity to use our platform to try to get women involved and competing.
SDM: What was the response to the tournament?
Bratman: It was overwhelmingly positive. Even the men in the industry recognized it. They recognized the disparity in female vs. male tournament players and they agree this a really important initiative.
SDM: What were the participation numbers like?
Bratman: It was our first year doing the eSports tournament so we topped off registration so that we could handle everyone. We offered two games: Hearthstone and League of Legends. We had 80 people playing League of Legends and 64 people playing Hearthstone. There were also a few days of qualifying before the event.
SDM: What made you choose those two games?
Bratman: We wanted to offer both a team game and a single player game. Blizzard, which makes Hearthstone, really loved the female empowerment angle, and Hearthstone is a female empowerment game. It seemed like a good fit for a single-player game. League of Legends is the most popular game title out there, and it’s a team game. It was a great place to start.
SDM: How did the tournament do?
Bratman: They were really well-received. We built the facility to host the tournament on the beach. it’s one of the things that made the event so unique: People who participated had no idea they were going to be playing in an area with great views. Usually, eSports tournaments are held in kind of a dark, dungeon-y place. This was amazing for everyone, I think.
SDM: How did you go about setting it up? Obviously, this is something that takes more than just an Internet connection.
Bratman: We brought in a really powerful Internet tool and we wired the entire area for computers that were all interconnected. We used a third-party Internet vendor to get all that done. The tent had an air conditioning unit, big screens, all the computers and monitors and peripherals. It was a great place to play.
SDM: You said you topped out the registration for League of Legends at 80 people – what was the registration for the festival?
Bratman: It’s about 123,000. Of those, about 70 percent are women and 30 percent men, with the median age of 27, so it definitely hits that Millennial demographic. It is an event with a very positive message, and many of the events we offer are open to the public.
SDM: Any idea on the economic impact of that festival?
Bratman: We don’t have numbers in for this event, but I’d say anecdotally about $55 million. You can’t get a hotel room within 15 miles of our event site, and a lot of people will drive in, some from more than 100 miles away.
SDM: The event has been in Oceanside for some time. Do you have any plans to move it?
Bratman: In 2018, we’re looking to do a version of this on the East coast. We currently offer two signature events: This is one, and we offer our Paul Mitchell Super Girl Surf Pro in conjunction with it. The other is our Supergirl SnowPro, which we offer at Big Bear every winter. We’re planning to offer an eSports event at the winter event as well.
SDM: Why do you think the festival has been so successful?
Bratman: I think because the premise behind it is so important. Very few things will give you that level of entertainment with so much that is free to do and see. You can sit and watch surfing or sit in on panel discussions, listen to the music and the DJs – plus, we raise a lot of awareness and funds for several charities we’re working with. There’s a lot of interest right now, given that our current political climate is perceived as not being very friendly to women.
SDM: You mentioned earlier that it appeals to Millennials. What kind of social media activity are you seeing as a result of the festival?
Bratman: We’re still calculating for this event, but we are already at 145 million social media impressions.
SDM: What will you do differently next year, both for the eSports aspect of the event, and the festival itself?
Bratman: As far as the eSports tournament, we are looking to expand it next year for sure. We’ve seen there is a lot of demand in the marketplace so I can see us adding three or four games next year. We’d also like to get the word out there earlier as well. We’ll also be expanding the festival to include a women’s bouldering event, a film festival and a 5K.
SDM: Sounds like it’s going to continue to grow.
Bratman: I think it will. It really has been an amazing ride.