Legends of Runeterra


The “Invisible” Sexism in Online TCG Communities - A Legends of Runeterra Story

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Is the Legends of Runeterra community sexist? Despite the many claims from community members saying it isn't, my experience as a woman in the community says otherwise. "Invisible" as it is, it is a very real experience for all of us - and it deserves to be discussed thoroughly.

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Throughout the 4 years I spent playing and creating content for Legends of Runeterra and being a part of its community, there’s one thing I’ve always heard around which increasingly became more and more untrue as times passed:

“The Legends of Runeterra community is great for women! There’s no sexism here.”

At first, it did seem true to me. I was a League of Legends player and I had actually switched my online tag from a feminine name to a neutral one, “joeysticks”, because it had led me to very aggressive situations based on sexism. Legends of Runeterra didn’t have the same issues as League did - without an online chat and a team-based game, much of what is considered the ‘tip of the iceberg’ regarding sexism in games just didn’t happen in LoR. The greatest offenses of being told to “get back to the kitchen” and other worse insults just didn’t happen (though I daresay nowadays that it just didn’t happen often enough for me to notice).


I also want to point out that we did have people in charge which encouraged a safe environment. Community figures such as Captain Sarah, the subreddit’s main moderator, helped weed out the main offenders considerably. This apparently made Legends of Runeterra sexism-free in most people’s eyes.

The beautiful world of sexism-free Legends of Runeterra
The beautiful world of sexism-free Legends of Runeterra

However, after 4 years engaging in this community as a woman, and talking to several other women in the community, I can say with certainty that this just isn’t true. Sexism in LoR is somewhat uniquely “invisible” because of several reasons.

The first is the one I mentioned above; we did weed out a lot of the most aggressive offenders. I have to thank everyone involved in this, as I know it was a community effort. Not just authority figures like Captain Sarah, but also the regular folks who pushed back against what you usually think “sexism in games” looks like. Thank you for this.

The second reason is that the Legends of Runeterra community is not that big. We were able to limit much of what, we think, are inadequate behaviors just because we are so small compared to other TCG communities. Competitors like Marvel Snap, for instance, are going to have a harder time doing this because their communities are just larger.

The third reason is precisely that Legends of Runeterra is an online TCG. What we hear about sexism in TCGs, particularly, happens in IRL events. LGS weekly tournaments, Pro Tours, conventions, Pre-release events. Which I must say, we have no idea if that would happen if LoR was a physical game. Personally, I think it would. However, as it isn’t, and we don’t have an in-game online chat to communicate with our opponents (even if we consider adding people in the game to insult them - that only became a possibility with the addition of the “add opponent” feature a few patches ago), Legends of Runeterra became this beautiful, rose-colored bubble of niceness. A true sexism-free utopia for anyone and everyone.

Like I stated before, this just isn’t true. The sexism I hear in other TCG communities is the same sexism I experience in LoR, if albeit a bit revamped. To make matters worse, women who do experience sexism in the community receive pushback when they discuss their experiences exactly because of this image we artificially created for LoR as a sexism-free game. So, many of us stopped discussing it, just like we keep living in a sexist society everyday enduring it all.

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We need to dismantle this rose-colored view. After all, we do have issues with sexism in LoR. Every time I have said something about it in the past, it became more obvious that I needed to write this article because of the pushback I received. Even though I felt so defeated every time I did, I knew, in my heart, that I wouldn’t be able to be quiet any longer. So, after reading incredible articles written by women in other TCG communities detailing their experiences, I gathered the strength to come here and burst this bubble.


In this article, I’ll go over a few of the main issues regarding sexism in Legends of Runeterra, with examples I’ve heard from other women and also my own experiences. I’ll try my best to explain it all thoroughly, because I do believe there is a percentage of the community that just doesn’t know or understand how we’re all being affected by this.

Examples That Don’t Apply

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Before we begin, however, I want to point out a few examples I have seen in other physical TCG communities that don’t happen as much in Legends of Runeterra but still should be mentioned. I’ll be very brief, as there are just a couple of them, unfortunately.

> “You must be this dude’s girlfriend.”

This one is, of course, much tied to the physical experience of going to LGS stores and trying to be a part of that community. Even though Legends of Runeterra doesn’t experience this as often, I do want to point out that I’ve seen several women content creators being reduced to “someone’s girlfriend” over the years in LoR.

Viewing women as less than men leads to thinking of them as an appendix to a man - be it their father, brother, boyfriend or husband. It reduces us to how we’re connected to a man, and completely erases our individuality and personhood.

> In-person physical, moral and sexual harassment, dress-coding, delegating “womanly” chores to women in stores, body criticism, sexualization, etc

Some of these behaviors need a physical setting to happen. You can’t slap someone’s ass if they aren’t in front of you. But they do happen to women in physical TCG stores, and it seemed to me unfair to not mention them.

So often we’re subjected to everything above and beyond, and they all come from the assumption women are less than men, and should be controlled and dominated.

Where Does It All Come From?

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If you’re often flabbergasted that people act like this, and you wonder why do they do this; you’re not alone. I, too, often cannot comprehend why these things happen, as I am someone who treats everyone with respect by default.

The baseline is that they don’t see women as their equal. That’s literally it. Everything comes from this perspective that women aren’t equals and are inferior, and all the assumptions made after this initial thought are made to corroborate it and enforce it.

“Women aren’t our equals, so they should be our inferiors. Therefore, they can’t be as good as we are, they aren’t allowed to behave as we do, they’re just objects we can touch and interact with as much as we please, etc, etc.”

Of course, society plays a big role in this, but ego does play a valuable role too. Considering the average ego of a gamer (yes, I’m being anecdotal here), you can easily understand how they’d need someone to put down so they feel better about themselves. And losing to someone who is your inferior, well… That just makes it all worse, doesn’t it?


Invisible Offenses, Not-so-Invisible Offenses & Examples

Without further ado, let’s see how sexism actually looks like in Legends of Runeterra.

Privacy and Limit Breaches

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I have my own example for this one. A player I faced on the ranked queue hunted down my phone number from a WhatsApp group we had in common to chit-chat, late at night. This was the only LoR group I still participated in with my phone number because I had already had so many horrible experiences in the past with them. The person in question was very awkwardly trying to chat me up on my private number - and I was just trying to play a ranked game.

In the past, because of my stalker situation (which I’m not going to go into detail about - but they were an LoR player), I developed PTSD and paranoia. I still freak out when I get notifications on my phone.

I know many women who have had their requests to be left alone ignored, particularly via Twitter DMs or Twitch chat. Just like them, I also stated my boundaries and let them know when I wasn’t comfortable with the conversation or why, but just like all other women in this community, I was often ignored when it came to stating my boundaries.

Woman First, Player Second

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This also ties to the situations described above. The main gist of this particular aggression is that being considered a woman before you’re considered a player means you’re often going to be disrespected or treated as “girlfriend material”.

When you aren’t being perceived romantically, you’re often being considered the “girl token” and coddled, which is plain patronizing. Many men decide to go to the further end of the spectrum when reflecting on sexism, and instead of being aggressively violent, considering us as inferiors, they go aggressively “positive”, putting us on a pedestal and trying to coddle everything we do.

It doesn’t help. We’re here to game and make friends, just like you do, and that really sums it up: We’re just like you.

Backseating, Mansplaining & Similar

Uh, Ackstually...
Uh, Ackstually...

This all comes from the idea that women are inferior. Being constantly assumed to be a bad player, a new player, and constantly bombarded with suggestions which seem more offensive than innocent really breaks your spirit in a unique way.

After all, if you’re someone like me who respects others by default, why wouldn’t I hear what others have to say? But if you’re a woman online, hearing what others have to say is often harmful. Not to mention the blow this does to your self-esteem. If you’re constantly getting advice, you don’t learn to value your own opinion. It makes you insecure in your own plays, and you can bet this reflects on your own skills. I’ve found myself playing too defensively and doubting myself more often than not because I simply didn’t trust my own decisions after years of getting told everything I do is wrong.


Furthermore, high-tier players are often granted respect, and their words and opinions are often regarded as good opinions as default. Women, on the other hand, are constantly getting challenged. I’ve seen many of my peers be challenged online for any and every opinion they have on the game online, despite their achievements.

And god forbid you say something they actually agree with. Then they’ll challenge you publicly when you say it, and then repeat your opinion to others as if it were their own. I’ve had this happen to me frequently over this year in particular.

Backseating is a problem in LoR. I agree this is a problem for everyone, not just women - but women are backseated more. Go into any broadcast, and compare the male content creators’ chats with the female ones. I can guarantee you’ll see not only a difference in how often they’re backseated but also to the degree they’re backseated. Female players are often getting backseated as if they’re complete morons or newbies more often than their male counterparts.

Mansplaining often gets a bad rep and is often mischaracterized. But what is it called when someone assumes you don’t know how to play the game and over-explains simple concepts? When they assume you’re a new player who “needs direction”? Even though you’ve been playing for years and are often in a higher rank than the one doing the explaining?

This constantly happens to me and other women in the community. My Twitter profile is very famously exploded with “newbie” suggestions every time I mention I’m having a hard time with the game, even though my Twitter bio has a full description of my achievements and community roles, and at this point I’m a well-known community figure.

In that same sense, women are often assumed to be inferior to men in a few ways. We’re either assumed to be worse players, newbie players, or even assumed not to be the heads of the organizations we take part in. We’re even assumed not to be the true creators of the decks we post as our own. Women in the same competitive teams as other “important” community figures often don’t get the same recognition as their peers.

This reaches critical levels when we’re not credited for our achievements. We’re often told, “you just got lucky”, when we win, and if we get certain contracts, some even assume we “slept our way to the top”, or that we just “charmed” the boss. I’ve personally had to hear these comments when I was called to cast Brazil’s GiantSlayer events. You know what is the most common form this type of reasoning is known as? “You’re pretty good for a girl”.


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This is something I have fixed in my own personal vocabulary; When we don’t know the gender of a player, most times we default to masculine pronouns out of socialization. We’re used to seeing men, so we assume this player in a male-dominated space is also - male. But that isn’t always the case, isn’t it?


All the articles I’ve worked on use neutral pronouns to refer to opponents; This helps with the perception of women in these spaces as well, because if you’re more open to the idea of women being in these spaces, you’re less likely to have issues when you do encounter a woman.

Women play these games too, and erasing them by defaulting to male pronouns every time you’re playing a game is harmful.

Online Harassment

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It baffles me that this is still swept under the rug in the LoR community. Yes, we do get harassed online by members of the community. They might not be the top 1 streamer, or a top 10 ranked player (though sometimes it is, and we’ve had proof of that in the past), but there are still reasonably respected players and community figures who push boundaries in our DMs, Discord messages, Twitch chats and other groups.

Players message us everywhere and present an array of unacceptable behaviors. From harassing us sexually from the start, to verbally assaulting us and cussing us out, to kicking us out of their groups because we “embarrassed” them by disagreeing with them. If you beat them in a match, it can get ugly very quickly. I’ve personally experienced this and had other women tell me similar stories.

I’ve twice had to publicly come on Twitter and discuss this. My DMs were filled with dudes fishing for sexual conversations and interactions, and at first, I didn’t address this because I mistakenly thought they were genuinely trying to be my friends. Funnily enough, once I made clear that I was only looking for actual friends, they disappeared.

This is another factor that can make the harassment we face seem invisible. In a store, when someone is harassing a woman, you can somewhat see it, even if you go out of your way to pretend not to. Online, these situations happen over private messages, or closed-off groups, and women are already used to brushing off online harassment in general, so we don’t speak about it much.

But don’t be mistaken. This happens in LoR too.


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When I started researching this subject for this article, I was having a hard time putting this experience into words. How to explain how disrespected and excluded I was feeling, and address what was causing it?

Thankfully, I heavily related to what Thea Miller described as the “lack of social capital” women have in certain communities when I read her article, “Death By a Thousand Paper Cuts”, describing this exact same matter in Magic: The Gathering. The full quote reads:

"Women in Magic have a marked lack of social capital, which is the interpersonal relationships, networks, resources, and other social assets of a society or group that can be used to gain advantage and mobility."

Everyone in Legends of Runeterra is always quick to state everyone is so helpful and welcoming when you’re starting out. And that is true, to a certain extent.


When you are a woman, first you need to understand who is genuinely being helpful and who is seeing you as a romantic opportunity. This “romantic lens” critique sometimes surprises people who think it should be viewed as endearing or complimentary. It isn’t. It just means someone saw a woman who plays the same game as they do and decided that was enough to make her their ideal partner. It is incredibly dehumanizing, and it makes us feel like who we are doesn’t matter, as long as we are women and play the same game as they do.

After you weed out who is just seeing you as a “girlfriend opportunity”, there aren’t many people left. And you quickly start to realize that people just don’t engage with you in the same way they engage with other players who aren’t women. They don’t include you in anything, they don’t ask for your opinion on decks, or ask you to scrim. Your presence there is mostly ignored, until you make yourself known and present.

Many friends of mine have explained this to me as in, “gamers just don’t know how to talk to a woman”. Or that they fear being rejected, even if they’re not pursuing us romantically - they just don’t want to be rejected by a woman in any situation. Some think it’s best to not say anything to us, as it can be “twisted and interpreted as sexual assault in this #MeToo era”, which is a flawed argument. In the words of Michaela Coel in her incredible HBO series, “I May Destroy You”, the experience related taunts us with the very real feeling that harassers know exactly what they’re doing:

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I’m not here to tell you that there aren’t genuine cases in which something was misinterpreted or there was malice involved by the part of the person reporting the harassment. However, when 1 out of 6 women have experienced sexual assault, and false accusations range from 2% to 10%, according to recent studies, we must understand that not speaking to any women won’t solve the problem - it will just create another. Not having women in these spaces will make all the issues I’ve commented so far worse and even more ignored, as relating these experiences to non-women spaces will be even harder.

The default experience is feeling like you’re in a huge party and don’t know anyone. No one talks to you, and the ones that do are often looking at you like a woman first, and not a player. This experience is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best to represent it.

Even when you are included in spaces, it often feels like you’re the “token representative”. No one really wants to listen to your opinions or values your skills as a player and community member like other people. I’ve been in this community for three years, studied the game competitively and casually, took part in major Riot Games events, participated in competitive teams, casting tables, analyst circles and I keep up to everything that is happening in what it seems like every player circle in Legends of Runeterra. Slowly, I’ve realized no approaches me in the same way they approach several other players I know that have had the same career trajectory as I have. I’m just not seen as “competitive” and “valuable” as they are, and this experience repeats itself to every female player I know.


I want to address in this section a particular type of “solution” I see being employed often to “include” women in spaces. Several times I have seen players say, “my DMs are open” or something of that sort when this subject is brought up. And I must say, it is not enough. Because, of course, considering this community, I know most people will "welcome" me if I reach out (albeit a good portion will do it with malice behind it) - that isn’t the point. A manager can say, “we don’t discriminate when we’re hiring personnel”, but still have an inherent bias that leans their views towards a particular profile.

It is not enough to “not be sexist” anymore; We need to be anti-sexism, which is something that has already been discussed in many social issues circles.

For that, actively reaching out to include women who may already feel left out and uncertain about how to navigate these spaces and invite them directly might be a much better move than just saying “my DMs are always open”. Saying “I’ll gladly scrim with you anytime” might make us feel like you’re doing us a favor, and reinforcing the idea that we don’t have anything to offer you competitively and skill-wise if we’re women.

Women-Only Events

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As of now, we’ve had a few women-only events hosted in our community by the wonderful Meg Ferrari. These events have been, unfortunately, raided with people pretending to be women.

I won’t delve too deep into this subject as I feel this is a very clear-cut no-no. Regardless of the reasoning behind them, these spaces should be respected.

note: These tournaments are open to anyone who identifies as a woman, including trans-women. The issue here was about people who actively identify as cisgender men registering for the tournament.

Shaming, When Women Refuse, and Miscellaneous

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As a person who has been active in the community for over three years, I’ve had my fair share of encounters of this sort. Personally, I’ve been very vocal about my past experiences publicly, and I have not been afraid to discuss “touchy” subjects such as relationship matters in any way I see fit. I have since been called slurs and people have assumed I want explicit photos in my private messages because I discuss these subjects openly.

I’ve also been shamed for having relationships with other players and victim-blamed for having dated my stalker (a relationship which I cut off and was stalked after). I have been bad-mouthed and had insane rumors spread about me by a person who I rejected in the past. They were all LoR community members.

Undermining Claims

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Whenever I speak about these experiences online, there’s always a big wave of pushback. I expect these at a certain extent because the internet is a vast place, and I know my influence grows out of the public that mostly knows me at this point in the LoR community.


However, the pushback I often receive isn’t coming from people outside the LoR community. People you know and respect as players and community figures often dismiss my experiences and the experiences of other women in the community. The most recent one I received pushback for was when I mentioned the “lack of social capital” I described in the “Exclusion” section of this article.

I bring up these matters because I genuinely want to debate these issues with others - so of course I don’t reject any sort of critique on this matter. But outright denying my experiences is where I draw the line on what’s reasonable critique and what’s just plain undermining women’s experiences.

I will once again stress that this isn’t something that happens only to me, as many have pointed out to me that I have a “combative personality” and “bring this upon myself by putting myself out there”. Disregarding how problematic these arguments are, I’ve known several women who are very different from me and behave very differently (be it not even having a public persona or being more introverted than I am), and these same situations have happened to them.

I don’t need to remind you of how the community acted when a brave woman reported the abuse she suffered at the hands of a popular streamer, do I? These situations are the default when it comes to women reporting their experiences.

Listen to women.

The Stranger in the Park

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The issue regarding what sexism and assault actually looks like is not new. People still think of the “stranger in the park” when they hear about sexual assault - a situation that occurs drastically less than, say, a family member committing the assault. The same happens, on a very minor scale, here regarding sexism in LoR.

You won’t see many “go back to the kitchen” or “I don’t play with girls” in the LoR community, though I have heard that. Instead, you’ll often see what I described above. Exclusion, claims being undermined, lack of representation in spaces, backseating, mansplaining, etc. I’m glad we moved away from calling women slurs to their face online and on broadcast chats, for instance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t said behind our backs, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t reflected on their actions.

I don’t need to be told “I don’t respect you”, to not feel respected. I don’t need to be told “I think you’re just a pretty face”, to see this being reflected on that person’s actions towards me. I know because they show it. And I’m tired of seeing it happen to every woman I know in LoR, and at the same time seeing other people say “LoR isn’t sexist.”

What Was I Made For? How Many Papercuts & Solutions

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What really impacts our experience as women in LoR is how often this happens. Every day I know I’ll face some player’s ego because they can’t handle interacting with a woman in this space, and I know every day that I exist in this community I’m opening myself up to experiencing this. It is that simple. I don’t need to do anything to trigger these behaviors - my existence already triggers them.


I won’t give up on LoR, regardless of what happens to me. I’ve been assaulted, stalked, excluded, and I’m still here. And I will continue to be here, until these issues disappear.

I have struggled to write this article because even though I know in my heart that I need to speak up, I don’t want this to be my main focus on content creation. There is so much more I am, than only a woman who plays games and has to deal with all of this on a daily basis. But, seeing as invisible as this subject was becoming, I had to speak up.

On that note, I’ll link below an article introducing ~30 women in the Legends of Runeterra community and who they are. Get to know them, include them, interact with them. I hope we can truly be a “sexism-free” community in the future. Thank you for reading.

Click here to see 30 women in the Legends of Runeterra community.link outside website

Resources and References

TCG Player. Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts - Thea Millerlink outside website

Brown University Sexual Assault Numbers.link outside website

Mas não tem por que se vitimizar - Carol Anet. https://www.ligamagic.com.br/?view=artigos/view&aid=2741Diario

Sexual Assault Statistics. https://legaljobs.io/blog/sexual-assault-statistics/

“Line Spectrum Border.” I May Destroy You, created by Michaela Coel, season 1, episode 8, HBO/BBC, 7 June. 2020.

Bancroft, Lundy. Why Does He Do That? : inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. New York :Berkley Books, 2003.