Team Unikrn are the world’s first, full time professional all female eSports team. Comprised of players from across Europe, they are Melania ‘Gina’ Mylioti from Greece, Julia ‘Julie’ Strunkowski of Germany, Perrine ‘Lalità’ Allesiardo and Sophia ‘Kim’ Benfakir of France, and the UK’s Camilla “Parmaviolet”.
Backers are Rahul Sood’s eSports and entertainment company, Unikrn, and wagering operator Luxbet. The handpicked team will compete in CS:GO tournaments.
SBC’s Sam Cooke caught up with Melania Mylioti and Julia Strunkowski to discuss the world of eSports, and what it means to be the first and only all female professional team within it.
SBC: Firstly congratulations on the new team. I assume there were other offers on the table, what made joining Unikrn the most attractive option?
Melania: The most attractive feature of their offer was that Unikrn wants to have a full-time professional team with some serious support from design, to marketing and sponsorships. No team before could give this option to a female lineup.
SBC: Do you believe sexism is more rife in gaming communities than throughout the world of sport in general? What can be done to combat it in the field of eSports?
Julia: We do believe sexism is more rife in gaming. The community is slightly younger than anywhere else.
What we believe can change this would be if and when female gamers grow, and more females put them themselves out there in a professional way. This will help. Right now it’s not like that.
Being able to see male and female combined in teams would also help.
SBC: How important do you feel Unikrn’s recent integrity certification programme will be in terms of helping eSports to legitimise and grow?
Julia: We know that eSports is not well understood at the moment, and in many areas it’s completely unmonitored and unregulated. It’s all very new and we think that Unikrn can represent and perhaps change and influence laws in this scenario.
We also think it’s cool that Unikrn has the very first eSports lawyer (Bryce Blum) under its wings!
SBC: Player to fan interaction is a major part of competitive gaming. How much of this can we expect from Team Unikrn?
Melania: Our fan base is very important to us. At the moment we are quite active, but expect to keep seeing more and more interactions with our fans with Unikrn now behind us. The year ahead looks amazing!
SBC: Does an all female pro gaming team offer up different options for sponsors and marketers? After all it’s a sport in which there’s a growing number of female fans with a corresponding lack of female players.
Julia: We believe it definitely offers more options. We don’t want to only compete professionally, but we want to represent the female scene as well. We hope to be role models for upcoming female gamers that want to turn pro.
It’s also important to consider that this is what we love to do – we are in it for the love of the competition.
SBC: With the amount of press generated from this announcement, does this increase expectation in your performances?
Melania: We have had a ton a of press since our team announcement. There is a bit of pressure, but in a good way. We want to make everyone proud and we will strive to achieve our goals. This will take some time because what we want to achieve is becoming the first female team that can compete in the male dominated scene. This is something which has never happened before.
As the CEO of Unikrn, Rahul Sood, has pointed out, Dana White once said: “There will never be a woman in the UFC”. Now the headliner for the UFC is a woman.
We expect eSports will continue to mature and more women will jump in, we’re ready for them when they do!
Melania Mylioti and Julia Strunkowski – Team Unikrn