With a large proportion of gamers being female, the number of competing women in eSports female tournaments is still quite low. But there are quite a few women currently making their mark in StarCraft, including Sascha “Scarlett” Hostyn. Scarlett has seen success in the StarCraft 2 World Champs in 2012 in Canada, followed by the Battle.net North American Championships the same year. And she’s still the highest earning female in the business, according to Statistica.
But why is the sport segregated at all? Apparently, it’s all about marketing rather than sexism. The major sponsors invest with the intent of reaching affluent young men between 21 – 34 years of age, according to SuperData Research.
Stephanie Harvey, aka missharvey, the Counter-Strike five-time world champ, would like to get rid of woman’s only tournaments and compete in an open environment. However, the general opinion is that they are an essential first step to an inclusive arena. With the need to encourage newcomers and promote woman players, the current formula is creating visibility and role models, giving other women players something to aspire to. Harvey agrees that finding a role model was important for her at the beginning of her career, who helped her appreciate what she was capable of. And she would like to fill that role for other aspiring female players.
The opinions felt are that it will be an ongoing struggle for the women to reach the heights currently occupied by men, but that ultimately, it is only temporary. Whereas on a traditional field of sport, men and women compete separately, eSports provide a unique environment for both sexes to compete against each other on a level playing ground, so to speak. The sport is gaining popularity amongst females, with viewership up from 15% to 30%.
Three of the top ladies dominate women’s eSports.
TossGirl from Korea is their biggest female star and a true pioneer of the sport. She competes in StarCraft Brood War in South Korea – which is the only place in the continent of Asia that has achieved a large following in this game, and has become a country-wide institution.
She was introduced to the StarCraft world as a youngster, on a casual level. But the bug bit after watching the game played on TV and she started to practice hard, with the goal of being a professional player.
The story goes that she would sneak out every night to compete in small local tournaments, which she kept a secret from her father. After a couple of years, she had improved beyond recognition and earned her Pro gaming licence. She joined the STX Soul team, achieving a huge accolade – she was the only female gamer in the Korean professional arena. With a 100%-win record in solely female tournaments, she has pioneered the way for other lady gamers.
Bonnie Burton, known as Xena in gaming circles, was the only woman player to achieve acclaim on the circuit. MLG’s then flagship product, Halo, was her speciality.
She entered the arena of pro gaming at a very young age and rapidly established herself. She was signed up on a Pro contract with MLG, which pushed her into the spotlight. Improving as a player, she broke into the prestigious MLG Pro Bracket – limited to the elite in the industry and was the first woman ever to achieve this feat.
She has remained in the eSport industry. Having set the bar as high as she did, many competitors have battled to live up to her high standards.
And, of course, the beforementioned Sascha Hostyn, aka Scarlett. Boasting the title of winning an open-gender tournament in her speciality, StarCraft II, she is the most successful and decorated female in the business. Following her successes in Northern America, she has taken a number of podium spots. She now represents Team Acer, along with other successful gamers. Her story is by no means over. She was clearly bred for success.
The top female player for Call of Duty is Ellen Elizabeth, aka DreamCrazzy. The 27-year-old was on the team that won the first Female Pro League on Black Ops3 Under Mutiny. Whilst she has been a top player for a few years, it’s only in the past year that female competitions have allocated decent prize pools for Call of Duty.
The top ten players in the world (Reference Statistica) within their chosen games are; Sascha Hostyn (Scarlett) with StarCraft II; Katherine Gunn (Mystik), Halo Reach; Ricki Ortiz, Ricki with Street Fighter V; Marjorie Bartell (Kasumi Chan) – Dead or Alive 4; Sarah Harrison (Sarah Lou), Dead or Alive 4; Christine Chi (potter), Counter-Strike; Stephanie Harvey (missharvey), Counter-Strike; Vanessa Arteaga (Vanessa), Dead or Alive 4; Alice Lew (ali), Counter-Strike; and Zainab Turkie (zAAz) with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
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