VKLiooon: A Win for Esports and Women

“Esports” is a rapidly growing field of competitive video gaming, played by individuals or teams across a wide variety of games. One of the most popular games is Hearthstone, by Blizzard Entertainment. Even if you’re not a gamer, odds are you’ve heard of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, as it’s one of the most popular video games in the world. Hearthstone, a free online game, is an extension of Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft series - boasting 100 million players.

 

This past Saturday was the Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals tournament. It was a landmark for all women in Esports. Xiaomeng Li, a Chinese gamer better known as “VKLiooon,” became the first female Hearthstone global champion and the first female winner of any BlizzCon tournament. Twenty-three-year-old Li took a year off from studying at Southwest University of Political Science and Law in China to pursue video gaming at the professional level.

Li went undefeated the whole weekend and secured a 3-0 win in the final round. She attributes her success not only to practicing five hours a day and studying strategy but also to her hunger to prove herself in the male-dominated field. Li shared with the Washington Post “The factor that makes it happen for me here is the fact that I think I wasn’t good enough compared to all the other players". The Washington Post article explains she attributes her motivation to that - inspiring her “to work harder than them and be careful with every step I take, and every strategy I make.”

This scrutinization within esports is common. Many female gamers experience sexism, and Li is no exception. As reported in the Washington Post article, she described a tournament two years ago, specifically the experience she had while waiting in line to sign up. A man said to her, “it’s not for you”,  and told her to leave the competition. However, she hopes this monumental win will inspire girls to believe in themselves. “I want to say to all the girls out there that have a dream for esports competition: if you want to do it and believe in yourself, you should just forget your gender and go for it. As long as you want to play well you can, no matter what gender you are,” Li says

The article shared that Li hopes that “people become more kind to women in esports and show more respect [and] more tolerance.” She believes that this will encourage more female involvement in esports. Surely, her grand feat will inspire girls around the world to pursue their passion for video games.