One of the beautiful things about esports is that competitive video games are a fair and level playing field between genders. Even though the majority of esports competitors at the highest level are male, there are some women who 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.
- 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 win rate.
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.
Her career has been amazingly successful and she has been a top player in Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom titles. Unfortunately though she never took home a major win, despite a ton of runner-up finishes.
Her most recent heartbreak came at one of the FGC’s most respected events: The Capcom Cup.
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.
2 Katherine “Mystik” Gunn
Mystik’s path to being a successful gamer was different from most people on this list. She isn’t an esports player persay 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.
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.
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.
Mystik lost in Rock Band but won BlazBlu 5-0. The final came down to 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-main for the Shanghai Dragons in the Overwatch League. While this list wasn’t necessarily a ranking by any metric, Geguri is the only woman playing in one of the most prominent esports leagues on the planet.
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.
Shanghai set records in the first season… but not the good kind. Somehow the team went 0-40 over the entire season, a feat never before achieved in sports or esports. That wasn’t Geguri’s fault however; she didn’t join the team until a quarter of the way through the season, when they had already lost their first twenty games.
In Season 2, Shanghai has done better as they finished a respectable 3-4 in the first stage.
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 she could be as good as she is without cheating. At the time, she had the highest winrate with Zarya (her main character) and an absurd Kill – 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 and two players did actually quit the game when Blizzard confirmed that she wasn’t hacking.