eSports! Gotta love eSports. The drama, the emotion, the thrill of watching nerds younger than you absolutely destroy a game you can barely even play, and the payment of big money to do it all. There’s a lot to like about eSports, but here’s something that’s a bit harder to like: the gender ratios. Overwhelmingly, most eSports athletes are men, and while women have slowly started gaining ground in the industry, it’s not happening at the pace it really should. For example, prominent female Overwatch player “Geguri” was effectively barred from the new league until she was eventually signed on by the desperate Shanghai Dragons.
And that’s part of the reason it’s so refreshing to see the news that for the first time ever - a woman has officially won a major StarCraft 2 Tournament: Canadian e-athlete Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn.
Now it would be cool enough that a westerner beat the South Koreans at the game they basically turned into a sport in the first place, but the fact it was a Canadian woman—on the cusp of the first Winter Olympics in South Korea—is even more exciting. For her upset victory over Kim “sOs” Yoo Jim in the Intel Extreme Masters competition, she’ll be walking away with a $50,000 prize and some serious bragging rights.
That said, it’s not quite an upset. She has a string of victories in the game that have netted her over $200,000 in winnings over the years, making her the highest-paid female e-athlete in 2016.
The tournament itself was supposed to showcase the virtues of eSports ahead of the 2018 winter games, which is going to be hosted by South Korea tomorrow. Whether or not it ensures eSports will be recognized in the next winter Olympics has yet to be seen (I wouldn’t hold my breath), but it was a pretty thrilling scene regardless.