UNT's all-female esports team battles at national competition

Friday, May 31, 2024 - 05:00

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas boasts an all-female team playing Valorant, a popular competitive video game, representing the Mean Green at national esports competitions.

Esports involves organized multiplayer video game competitions often watched by live and online audiences. The program has thrived, winning multiple championships and expanding its reach.

“We've been told by several directors and coaches we meet that UNT's team was an inspiration for other programs to follow suit and commit to providing more opportunities for women in esports through teams operating similar to our own,” said Dylan Wray, assistant director of recreational sports and head of UNT’s Esports program.

Formed in 2023, UNT’s all-femme Valorant team includes students Brenda Cervantes, Hannah Block, Kelly Thuy Lam, Shelby Fay Wolfe, Mahwiyat Anwar and Maryann Luong. The team has been funded by donations from RGB Custom PC.

Valorant, produced by Riot Games, is a first-person perspective game where two teams of five compete in defensive and offensive strategic missions. Players control characters called “agents”, each with unique abilities.

UNT's all-femme Valorant esports team competes at the 2024 CECC
UNT's all-femme Valorant esports team competes at the 2024 CECC

The team’s camaraderie enhances their performance and the players appreciate the opportunity to play on an all-femme team.

“We have a lot of chemistry between us,” Cervantes said. “We can talk about problems we have, we’re very close-knit together.”

This year, the Mean Green team competed in the 2024 Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup at the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The event hosted 320 teams from 185 schools, with  1,500 of the nation’s top esports athletes competing in games such as Overwatch 2, Rocket League, Valorant and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

The UNT team participated various qualifiers, including the Valorant CECC South Region Qualifiers, EsportsUnl Qualifiers and Texas Qualifiers leading up to the CECC Finals. They won against Grand Valley State University in the EsportsUnl Qualifiers but faced a tough loss to the University of Texas at Arlington in the Texas Qualifiers. Despite this setback, they secured a spot in the CECC Finals bracket.  

Nearly 4,000 viewers watched the match online, with 500 attending in-person, as UNT faced the University of Houston in the debut Aurora series match. The Aurora series supports individuals of marginalized genders.  

Additionally, team member Anwar was featured in a “McDonald’s Golden Highlight” interview before the game. The “McDonald’s Golden Highlight” is a special segment in the esports broadcast that showcases notable plays and player achievements. Sponsored by McDonald’s, this segment highlights key moments and contributions from top players.

Beyond competition, the team fosters a strong community.

“I love the community and the networking. I love my girls,” Anwar said. “We all understand each other on another level. We’re very close; it feels like a family.”

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Chelsey Gilbert