The International 2021 has highlighted issues of sexism among some elements of Dota 2’s fandom, and Michelle “Moxxi” Song is taking umbrage with it.
The Dota 2 caster attended her first The International at TI10. Three other women also shared that distinction in Mira “Ephey” Riad, Kasumi “Sumichu” Yogi, and Frankie “Frankie” Ward. All four of them faced resistance from a subsection of the Dota 2 fandom, with Frankie in particular getting blasted by fans.
Moxxi doesn’t believe this is a coincidence. In a lengthy post on Twitter, she discussed the sexism women in Dota 2 esports face today and the long history of the behavior among many Dota 2 fans.
“There’s been a lot of negativity and s— stirring since the latest female members of the Dota 2 talent have emerged. As a longtime Dota 2 fan, it didn’t surprise me…I’d seen the threads against AnneeDroid, heard the rumors about Llama being forced out, and seen how people would spread rumors about how Sheever and Jess Brohard managed to keep getting work. And all the while, these talents have kept quiet,” Moxxi said.
A clear fault line formed reacting to Moxxi’s post. On one side, some prominent figures in Dota 2 broadcasting voiced their agreement. On the other, a number of Dota 2 fans were aggrieved that this harassment was implied to be sexist.
During The International 2021, Dota 2 fans bashed desk host Frankie for various perceived gaffes.
These ranged from an anecdote not landing with her fellow hosts to an interview that was cut short by producers. These criticisms, legitimate or not, spread across social media, particularly on the Dota 2 subreddit where threads criticizing her lingered near the top of the front page for much of the event.
Though Frankie is a credentialed esports broadcast host that has worked prominent events in Counter-Strike, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Overwatch, Dota 2 fans questioned her credentials for working at TI10. Much of this criticism was based around her work specifically within Dota 2. Despite the fan response, the move to bring Frankie in was not surprising. Valve has routinely bringing esports personalities from other titles in for major events including Alex “Machine” Richardson, Richard “Rich” Campbell, and Marcus “DJWheat” Graham. Few of them faced much criticism over their appearances, though Sean “Day” Plott did receive backlash upon his own Dota 2 hosting debut at The International.
The situation was exacerbated by a jab at Reddit users made by Frankie on Twitter.
Despite acknowledging that there was room for improvement in her hosting, Frankie stated she stands by her work and doubled down on her personal blog where detailed her feelings on the sustained criticism at length.
“The great thing was, if I did get something wrong, I was with experts who could correct me and then we’d simply move on. No harm done. It would not be productive for me to dwell on one mistake that didn’t significantly derail production or my colleagues. Instead it’s important to learn and quickly move on with the show,” Frankie said.
While fans continued to fume over Frankie, Moxxi’s support for her was echoed by a list of Dota 2 personalities, past and present.
Alan “Nahaz” Bester discussed Frankie’s bona fides and questioned the basis for criticism that she faced before TI10 even began, comparing her debut to that of former host Machine.
Kevin “Purge” Godec, who collaborated with Frankie on Dota 2 streams throughout 2021 and was Moxxi’s commentary partner during TI10, was active in the subtweets. He responded to fans who claimed that sexism isn’t a persistent problem in Dota 2:
Annie “Anneedroid” LeClair reemerged to discuss her own exit from Dota 2. Anneedroid became a prominent Dota 2 caster and then disappeared almost overnight after receiving persistent harassment. She discussed her pivot away from the game and how toxic its fandom is in retrospect:
Despite these prominent voices lending their support, some of the criticism regarding Frankie continues to linger on from fans who expressed dissatisfaction with her apparent knowledge of Dota 2 while she was hosting the game’s biggest event in two years.