Welcome to the Overwatch League, Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon!

If you've read any of my articles before, you might have figured out that I'm an Overwatch fan. Stage three has just begun, and I've been watching the Overwatch League since stage two. While I don't know everything about Esports, I'm learning more and more every time I watch a match.

That being said, you don't have to be an Esports expert to recognize unfairness in Esports. I've written about the lack of women in the Overwatch League in the past. I'm back to tell you more about Geguri, one of the newest players for the Shanghai Dragons and the first female player in the Overwatch League.

Months ago, it was reported that team coaches were worried about housing accommodations and language barriers between players. The latter fear is odd coming from a league full of players from different countries who speak different languages. The Dallas Fuel, for example, has players from South Korea, Finland, France, United States, Sweden, and Thailand. Now that the Shanghai Dragons have both Korean and Chinese players, their coach is determined to get the whole team to only speak Chinese during gameplay. Coaches also claimed that they wanted to form teams that "gel together," even though some teams, like the London Spitfire, have Korean players that were previously on different teams and currently get along just fine.

Now, it seems the excuses are over. At least, they've silenced a bit since OWL fans are busy welcoming Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon to the Blizzard Arena. The 18-year-old is known for her skills on tank heroes such as Zarya, Orisa, and D.Va and showed off her talent during her first OWL game on Wednesday. Along with the other new Shanghai Dragons members He "Sky" Junjian, Kim "Daemin" Dae-min, Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok, and Chon "Ado" Gi-hyeon, Geguri made her debut and played against the Dallas Fuel. While the match ended in the 21st loss for the Shanghai Dragons, the team avoided giving the Fuel a shutout victory by winning one of the four maps possible. Geguri and Altering specifically held their own during the Dragons' offensive round on Junkertown.

While fans are still excited about Geguri's signing and seem to have welcomed Geguri with plenty of heart emojis in the Twitch chat and kind words and fanart on Twitter, Geguri has exhibited some self-doubt. Since she's just a teenager, it's understandable if she feels insecure from time to time. On the other hand, it's a shame that even a professional Esports player feels ashamed of her looks. Her duty to her team is not to look attractive; she was chosen for her ability to play a computer game. That, however, hasn't stopped some online users from making comments about her appearance. Although it should be obvious when commentators use "she" and "her" to refer to Geguri that she is a woman, OWL viewers still make comments like "is that a girl?" and "she looks like a boy". It's unclear if she has felt unsure about her looks before being signed to OWL or if the audience has made her feel doubtful, but at least she has a supportive coach who offered to get rice cakes with her.

Geguri has already experienced sexist issues in the past. When she was just 16 years old, professional Overwatch players assumed she was cheating because she appeared so highly skilled and had a glitchy in-game camera while streaming. She proved them wrong by filming herself using the mouse while playing Overwatch and was also proven innocent by Blizzard Entertainment.

The Overwatch player has also remained pretty humble since the Shanghai Dragons confirmed her signing. She knew that fans were excited about her arrival but after the confirmation, she posted, “Big picture, half success. I’ll work hard and try my best.” Perhaps it's her shyness that keeps her grounded, or, as Kotaku writer Cecilia D'Anastasio points out, Geguri would rather be known for her in-game talent than as the first and only female player in the  Overwatch League

While she doesn't want to be regarded as some sort of martyr for being the first female in the  Overwatch League, her presence means a lot to female gamers internationally. Many of us have experienced prejudice when considering a male-dominated field--whether that be computer science, construction, medicine, engineering, or simply gaming--and we need role models to show us that we, too, can earn the respect we deserve in our desired careers and hobbies based on our skills alone.

Good luck to the entire Shanghai Dragons team! Hopefully, their first win comes sooner rather than later. (New York Excelsior is still my number one team, though!)

 

Photo Credits: Robert Paul (Blizzard Esports)Sean Morrison (ESPN)