Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Team Dignitas signs former Selfless Gaming women's CS:GO team

hen-Team Karma players Lynnie "artStar" Noquez, right, and Amanda "rain" Smith prepare for a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match at the Intel Challenge Katowice in March 2016. The two, along with the rest of that roster, are now part of Team Dignitas. Provided by Helena Kristiansson/ESL

Team Dignitas is making a return to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the addition of Selfless Gaming's women's CS:GO squad, Dignitas announced Tuesday.


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The team's first event under the Team Dignitas banner will be the 2017 Intel Challenge women's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in Katowice, Poland, beginning Thursday. There it will face Team Secret and Counter Logic Gaming Red, two of the best women's Counter-Strike teams in the world, as well as a handful of others.

The roster includes Emmalee "EMUHLEET" Garrido, Lynnie "artStar" Noquez, Amanda "rain" Smith, Mounira "GooseBreeder" Dobie and Catherine "CAth" Leroux. Former professional player and world-renowned in-game observer Heather "sapphiRe" Garozzo will remain with the lineup as a team manager.

The signing of the lineup comes after Team Dignitas parted ways with its Danish Counter-Strike lineup, which went on to sign with North, a new esports brand launched by soccer club F.C. Copenhagen.

"We are extremely happy to have signed a team who desires, as we do, to compete and win at the highest levels of play," Team Dignitas president Michael "ODEE" O'Dell told ESPN. "We look forward to working alongside them in their journey and continued development as professional gamers. This is a team of talented competitors who has shown a drive to succeed and dedication to their sport and fans. We are ecstatic to announce the first all-female team in Team Dignitas' proud 13-year history."

Over the past few years, the team which was known as Team Karma prior to signing with Selfless Gaming in 2016 has been one of the top female teams in CS:GO. It took second in the women's Counter-Strike tournament at Esports World Convention 2016 in October and earned a top-eight finish at Fragadelphia 9, a co-ed tournament, in September.

Team Dignitas was acquired in September by the ownership group of NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, the NHL's New Jersey Devils and New Jersey-based venue the Prudential Center. Since then, the team has made managerial changes such as adding a new staff and integrating the esports franchise into 76ers business culture.

"What excites me the most about joining the Team Dignitas family is the amount of support and respect they have from the esports community," team captain EMUHLEET told ESPN. "It is a dream come true to play for Team Dignitas and within the Philadelphia 76ers family, and we do consider our team a true family."

Team Dignitas intends to sign a North American Counter-Strike team as well, but has yet to find one. The roster announced Tuesday, however, is not just centered on women's competitions.

"As a fan-first organization, we were thrilled to sign gamers who have a strong relationship with their fans and have achieved impressive success in international tournament play," Team Dignitas CEO Jonathan Kemp said. "Naturally we support the growth of female gamers in the industry, but [we] chiefly saw this as an opportunity to bring premier playing talent into our Team Dignitas family."

One of the founders of this team, sapphiRe, appreciated that Dignitas is less focused on this being a women's team than it is with bringing in a Counter-Strike squad. The resources provided by partnering with the 76ers will also be invaluable for the team's brand and offer it increased exposure.

"We're a team that is eager to travel the world and engage with fans and media while competing in the industry's most prestigious international tournaments," she said. "Winning female tournaments certainly means a lot to us, but that doesn't leave us satisfied. We're always striving for more. We don't want to be the best female team. We want to make an impact against today's best Counter-Strike athletes.

"In Team Dignitas and the Philadelphia 76ers we've found an organization where our drive and dedication as athletes is respected and encouraged."


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