Esports have been growing by leaps and bounds, and the industry is expected to bring in $1.1 billion in revenue by 2019, according to Newzoo. But there is one segment of the gaming population that has been slow to rise with it—women. Although women make up almost half of the video gaming audience, that isn’t reflected in the esports space, where most—if not all—of the top teams are comprised completely of men.

The good news is that companies like Intel are working with ESL to turn that around. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers, which owns Team Dignitas, is connecting its women’s team with brand sponsors, particularly those that wouldn’t fit with a male team. Now ASA Entertainment, the company that manages the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro (an event that promotes women in male-dominated areas of sports, media, entertainment and education), is looking to empower female gamers by launching an esports tournament to coincide with the event.

The Supergirl Gamer Pro is a female-dedicated multi-title esports tournament that will take place from July 28-to-30 at the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, California. This marks the first time esports will be featured at the Supergirl Pro, which is also celebrating its tenth anniversary. The top teams will go head-to-head for a cash and sponsored product prizes in League of Legends and Hearthstone live on stage with the final three rounds of the tournament livestreamed on Twitch. ASA Entertainment is relying heavily on a grassroots campaign, using social media and esports influencers to get the word out about the tournament.

AListDaily spoke with ASA Entertainment CEO Rick Bratman, who said the main goal of the Supergirl Gamer Pro tournament was to show that women are excellent players and deserve the same opportunities that men receive. He added that the tournament would both entertain audiences and inspire them to help change the way the industry treats and perceives women as more enter into professional gaming.

Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment

What inspired the inclusion of the Supergirl Gamer Pro esports tournament?

The Supergirl Pro has provided opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated areas of sports, entertainment, media and education for the past 11 years. Esports is the perfect example of an industry where women are unnecessarily treated like second-class citizens despite a huge percentage of the gender that considers themselves avid gamers. By most accounts, 46 percent of all gamers are women, yet females receive less than one percent of all tournament spots in esports. After seeing this ridiculous disparity and witnessing the tremendous toxicity towards women in gaming, we decided to launch the Supergirl Gamer Pro to provide a platform for female gamers and to help inspire women to take a larger role within esports. Our mission is to encourage the empowerment and participation of more women in competitive gaming and to help facilitate a future where women and men have equal opportunities within esports.

How do esports and the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro brand go together?

Esports was a perfect fit given Supergirl Pro’s mission to empower women and to identify genres of culture where women are simply not treated as equals. It’s incredibly important to develop this platform for women to feel safe when competing in esports, and we want to use the power of the Supergirl Pro brand to help foster a strong, positive and healthy environment for women gamers.

Why do you believe there should be a stronger women’s presence in esports?

From an outsider’s perspective, I can’t comprehend why women and men don’t receive equal opportunity already within esports. Women are generally smarter than most guys I know [laughs], and there is certainly no issue with thumb dexterity. Simply put, if women represent 46 percent of all gamers, then women should receive 46 percent of the tournament opportunities and 46 percent of the sponsorship dollars.

What are some of the main sponsors for the Supergirl Gamer Pro tournament and how will they be represented?

Twitch and Blizzard were the first companies to recognize the importance of this initiative and they jumped on board immediately. Twitch has been incredible in its support financially, spiritually and socially. They will be livestreaming 20 hours of tournament play from the event and have helped connect us to a number of influential members of the gaming community. Corsair has also been a great partner and will be supplying the hardware and peripherals for the event. There are a number of additional brands that love the project and will be supporting at smaller levels in 2017, but want to be a much larger part of the event as it grows in 2018 and beyond.

Why were Hearthstone and League of Legends chosen as the featured games?

We wanted both a five-versus-five and a one-versus-one game for the first iteration of the Supergirl Gamer Pro. Given the family-friendly environment of the event’s festival, we also wanted games that were both PG-13 and recognizable. Hearthstone was selected as the one-versus-one game in consultation with Blizzard and LoL was a no-brainer for the team game, given the criteria.