Philadelphia 76ers-owned esports organization Team Dignitas announced a new all-female Counter-Strike: Global Offensive roster in February this year. The roster includes players Emmalee “emuhleet” Garrido (Captain), Amanda “rain” Smith, Mounira “Goosebreeder” Dobie, Carolyn “artStar” Noquez, and Catherine “Cath” Leroux.
To discuss the team’s bootcamp plans, approach to both co-ed and female tournaments, and more, Yahoo Esports interviewed team manager Heather “sapphiRe” Garozzo, who has been an Observer at several CS:GO Majors, controlling the camera during matches for casters and spectators. She is also a former CS competitive player herself.
The team will soon be attending a boot camp program at the Philadelphia 76ers training facility. There they will go through media training and meet with a nutritionist, team doctor, and sports psychologist.
While most of the roster is based in Southern California, three players are Canadian. The players travel frequently but do not currently live together in a team house–something which Sapphire said could change in future.
“It’s something that we’re definitely looking into,” Sapphire said. “I think the end-goal is for all the American-based teams to be near each other. And I’m sure we can benefit from that, content-wise as well. [It’s] definitely something we’re hoping for in the future.”
Dignitas competes in both co-ed and female tournaments. On the topic of all-female rosters, Sapphire cited the importance of having team synergy.
“I have no issues with all-female teams,” she said. “It’s a game. It’s a job to us, but it’s also a game. It’s important that you have fun. If you’re having fun, that will give better results. For us, we want to play with our best friends. And our best friends just happen to be female. You just have more of a connection that way.
“You’re spending 12 hours a day, six days a week, with these people. So you want them to be people that you’re comfortable with. That’s not to say we have any issues playing with male players, most of us have been on more mixed-gender teams than on female teams in the past. But we’re like sisters, and a lot of us never had sisters, so it’s important for us to play together.
Female-only tournaments however, were a separate issue entirely.
“That being said, I have more issues with female tournaments. I like that female tournaments exist. There’s a reason Counter-Strike has the biggest competitive scene in all of esports, and it’s because female tournaments exist. I think they really inspire other females, they see other people they can relate to and they want to beat them. [But] I like them in moderation. I don’t want to see them at every single main tournament, [or every Major] have an offshoot female tournament. Because I think that’s going to hold back progress. I think if you want to be the best, you need to play and practice against the best.
“So those are still certainly important tournaments for us to attend, but we try not to limit ourselves to those tournaments.”
The team recently played in the qualifier for DreamHack Austin, which concluded last weekend. They made it to the final 16 out of 132 teams, losing to Luminosity, who eventually qualified for the tournament.
“We earned some respect there,” Sapphire said of the DreamHack Austin qualifiers. “We also played in Fragadelphia, the largest open tournament in the US, and finished top 8 there last year. We did pretty well against Premier-level teams. That is where we find the greatest value and the greatest learning opportunities.”
According to Sapphire, the results garnered the team more scrim opportunities.
“After we did really well in the last Fragadelphia, it opened up the door for us to get better practice partners. In the past, a lot of teams turned us down. We’ve earned their respect now. So we have the ability to practice against better teams, and that’s helping us to become a better team,” she said.
For Dignitas CS:GO female, the importance of having players get along with one another takes priority.
“I was actually talking to Sam “DaZeD” Marine the other day and he said, ‘Wow, Amanda “rain” Smith, she really impressed me.’ And I think she’s a fantastic player, she could play on some great teams. But it kind of goes back to that camaraderie thing.
“It’s like, yeah you could maybe get on a higher ranked team, but for us, we find it’s really special to play with your best friends and make something of it and succeed. We love playing together, we’re sisters, a lot of us have been together for three years now. We want to achieve as much as we can with the group that we have….you don’t want to be miserable to show up and practice each day. You want to be excited to be around your teammates. It’s really important that you find a group of people that you enjoy playing with regardless of gender, and for us that just happens to be female.”