One of the beautiful things about esports is that competitive video games are a fair and level playing field, regardless of gender. Even though the majority of esports competitors at the highest level are male, there are some women who are so good that they are competing in the top leagues of their respective games.
Here are five women who have proven themselves as elite competitors:
#5. Jamie “Karma” Bickford
Karma is a Rocket League player who currently completes for Splyce. She has been playing Rocket League competitive since 2016 and joined Splyce in June of 2017. Because Splyce was a new organization to Rocket League, they needed to work their way up through the ranks up to the Rocket League Championship Series – or RLCS - through the Rocket League Rival Series better known as RLRS. After each season the top two finishers in the RLRS play against the bottom two finishers in the RLCS to try to move up to the top league.
In Season 5, Karma and Splyce finished 6th in the RLRS and didn’t have a chance to rank up, but in Season 6, which just wrapped up last fall, they dominated the competition throughout the season and in the promotion playoffs to secure a spot in RLCS Season 7. The new season begins on April 6th and Karma will be the first woman to compete for an RLCS team when that season begins.
4. Jin-u “Bai-Za” Wang
Bai-Za is a Chinese Hearthstone player who is one of the top players in the world. Hearthstone is a digital card game from Blizzard, and like all card games it comes with some random elements. Still, there are a group of players who have proven that they can navigate that randomness better than anyone else, and Bai-Za is one of those players.
She rose to the world Stage in 2017 when she qualified for the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) Summer Championship. She experienced an unlucky draw and was matched up against Pavel, the defending world champion – and the player with the all-time highest competitive winrate. She nearly pulled the upset winning two of the first three games in the best of five series. Unfortunately the cards weren’t in her favor the last two games and Pavel took the series 3-2. Regardless, a nail-biting series against the best player in the world is nothing to be ashamed of.
#3 Ricki Ortiz
Also known as HelloKittyRicki, Ortiz is one of the pioneers in the Fighting Game Community. Her first recorded competitive result is in 2003 when she finished second in the Evolution Championship Series.
HelloKittyRicki's career has been amazingly successful and she has been a top player in Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom titles. Competing for Evil Geniuses, the esports organization that signed her way back in 2010, Ortiz dominated the 2016 Capcom Cup to reach the finals. There she was matched up against fighting game legend NuckleDu. The entire bracket at the Capcom Cup was stacked and she had to defeat plenty of amazing players to reach that point, but NuckleDu proved to be too much as he won the final series 3-1.
Ortiz still took home a payday of $60,000 and she is widely respected as one of the best Fighting Game players on the planet. Unfortunately though she never took home a major first-place win, despite a ton of runner-up finishes.
#2 Katherine “Mystik” Gunn
Mystik’s path to being a successful gamer was different from most people on this list. Back in 2010, esports weren’t to the level they are today, and there weren’t nearly the same opportunities for people to become professional gamers. Mystik isn’t technically an esports player per se, but she was still one of the first women to take home a major gaming title.
Mystik won season two of the WCG Ultimate Gamer, a reality show that combined gaming and physical tasks. The show ran two seasons in 2009 and 2010, and Mystik was the winner of the $100,000 prize for the second season. At the time, the $100,000 prize was one of the highest ever awarded to a single gaming competitor. In the show, which is available on Amazon Prime, gamers had to compete in games across a bunch of different genres. The final series came down to three games: Rock Band, BlazBlu (an arcade style fighting game), and Halo: Reach.
During the WCG Ultimate Gamer season 2 finals, Mystik lost in Rock Band but won BlazBlu 5-0. The final came down to the game Halo: Reach, where the first player to 15 kills would win the championship. She dominated, destroying her opponent so bad that if they were playing in a house he probably would have unplugged the console.
Here’s a clip from the end of the game where she hits a beautiful snipe for her 14th kill:
#1 Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim
Geguri is a 19-year-old Tank and off-tank player who formerly played for the Shanghai Dragons in the professional Overwatch League. While this list wasn’t necessarily a ranking by skill, Geguri is recognized for her FPS prowess in Overwatch and is the only player on this list to compete in such a prominent esports league.
The Overwatch League has entered its second season and slots for expansion teams reportedly cost as much as $40 million. They have franchises all over the globe and Geguri competes for one of the four Chinese teams named the Shanghai Dragons. This team set records in the first season of Overwatch League, but unfortunately they were not the good kind of records. Somehow the team turned in a winless 0 - 40 season, which is a record never before seen in professional sports or esports!
Of coures, that 0 - 40 season 1 record for the Shanghai Dragons wasn’t Geguri’s fault, and she joined the team well into that season, when they had already lost their first twenty games. Having just finished the first round of their second season, the Shanghai Dragons have improved quite a bit as they finished a respectable 3 wins and 4 losses. They are currently ranked thirteenth out of twenty and their next matches are scheduled for early April 2019.
Geguri’s start in competitive Overwatch began with controversy. In a situation all-too-familiar to female gamers, men in the Overwatch scene didn’t believe that she could so good without cheating. At the time, she had the highest winrate with Zarya (her main character) and an absurd kill to death ratio (K/D).
To prove her results were legit, she played multiple matches in a controlled setting with a camera recording her movements with the mouse. Geguri’s accusers said they would quit playing Overwatch if she proved them wrong. In fact, two unnamed players did actually quit the game when Blizzard confirmed that Geguri wasn’t cheating or hacking.
That wraps up this list of some of the most prominent and well-known female gamers in the competitive scene. Everyone on this list has been a pioneer in their own way as women in a largely male-dominated pro gaming arena. With esports hitting the mainstream and more girls playing games than ever before, we will see what new girl gamers and champions rise to the challenge in the future esports scene!