eSports

WNBA Star Aerial Powers on Joining Team Liquid, Promoting Diversity in Esports

“I’ve admired Team Liquid for a while, due to their reputation in the space,” she said. “But, I really got to know the organization and the leadership team early last year when I participated in a Valorant Pro-Am they were hosting. They were welcoming and really enthusiastic about me being a part of their event. We continued to build on that enthusiasm and developed a deeper relationship the last several months.”  

Interestingly, the deal was not the product of Ford Models, who Powers signed with in October to represent her under its esports and gaming division.

“Ford continues to be instrumental in my growth and I’m excited for what’s next there, but I worked closely with my brand management company, Levels Unlocked Enterprises in forging this partnership.”

Powers said that she chose Team Liquid as a partner because there is a fair amount of synergy between them when it comes to being competitive and in engaging the community. 

“We’re both competitive. We want to win – not just in the arena, not just in the queue. We both want to impact the industry through positive change and doing good in gaming. They also continue to grow and innovate in the way they engage their fans and support their partners – in and out of the arena. These are all things I want to be a part of and help push forward.” 

As a brand ambassador, she will work closely with Team Liquid to promote its brand, events, and activities, on the court and on-stream. “I’m already rocking my new lunar-light Aurora hardware and planning to take my new Alienware laptop with me on the road with me during this upcoming WNBA season,“ she said, adding that Alienware and Team Liquid will make some announcements soon on future plans.

While creating content and promoting Team Liquid as a brand is an important part of the deal, Powers will play a leading role in driving diversity and inclusion in esports and gaming through the organization. She will serve in a leadership role on Team Liquid’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, where she will help bring more people of color and women into the industry as players and leaders.

“I’ll chair the new task force, which is made up of a number of key stakeholders from throughout the Liquid family. It’s an impressive group that brings different expertise, perspectives, access and networks to the cause,” Powers said. “And, I’ll be working closely with Liquid on creating and elevating ways to improve inclusivity – not just within the organization, but across the industry. We’re really going to lean into championing the next generation of women gamers.”

Organizations such as Cloud9 have also leaned into promoting diversity with initiatives such as Cloud9 White, its all-women Valorant Team, but Powers envisions an industry where women and people of color – people that look like her – are in leadership roles.

“We’ve made some strides in the last few years. But let’s be clear, we don’t just want to secure a seat, we want to create the table. We need more women in leadership positions that are able to transform the culture and industry. We need people that look like us in the C-Suite making decisions. It is so true that sometimes you can’t be what you can’t see. The leveling of the playing field in Valorant is incredible. But, we know we still have work to do. And, I don’t think it’s just one area that needs improvement – it’s the sum of a lot of parts.”

Diversity begins with honesty, she says, and in having frank conversations about the unseemly side of the industry and the community. 

“We want to focus on providing visibility, opportunity, and resources to aspiring gamers. But it’s also about identifying the pain points — asking ‘what are the obstacles, social or otherwise, that discourage girls from pursuing gaming’? We’ll continue to host tournaments and hope to introduce a gamer showcase. And, there’s much more in development with Team Liquid.”

Finally, given the recent results of the 2020 presidential election and the senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, we asked Powers what she thought about former Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate turned-community organizer Stacey Abrams’ efforts in the state to register voters both in the real-world and online through Twitch events.

“I think what Stacey Abrams did on Twitch to engage young voters was genius. Similar to what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other celebrities did to galvanize the young voters for the Presidential election. There are over 133M gamers in America and most are in the age of 18-34, which includes a large group of young or first-time voters. 

“I was so proud to be able to partner with Gamers.Vote and When We All Vote for my Powerz Up NBA 2K tournament and to educate my fans on Twitch about voting and encouraging them to register to vote. America was able to see the power of the Black vote not only in Georgia but also across the nation.” 

 


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