Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, just made history as the first female winner of a major, global Starcraft 2 tournament. She took first prize at the Intel Extreme Masters 2018 tournament which is basically the Olympics of esports. In fact, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea just before the 2018 Winter Olympics, it represents a step towards esports being included in the actual Olympics.
Esports and the Olympics
The International Olympic Committee is in the process of evaluating esports as a potential medal event in the 2024 Games. Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said this about the IEM:
“Following on from the Olympic Summit last week, the IOC will now explore esports’ relationship with the Olympic Movement further. This is just the start of an exciting future and we’re interested to see how this experience will play out.”
There is a heated debate among members of the International Olympic Committee and the gaming community as to whether or not esports belong in Olympic competition. Both sides have equally compelling arguments. But, the fate of professional gamers representing their respective countries in the Olympic games remains to be seen.
While there’s some hope in the gaming world that esports will be included in the Olympics, the movement certainly has its detractors. Some feel that the violence represented in video games directly conflicts with the Olympic spirit of unity. However, supporters argue that the competitive esports community fosters positive international competition and inclusivity.
The top four finishers of the IEM were from Canada, South Korea, Poland, and Mexico. Traditionally, South Korea has dominated the Starcraft 2 competitive scene, but other countries are quickly catching up. As a female player at the top of her game, Scarlett Hoyston is the perfect example of esports diversity. As far as the Olympics, esports would represent one of the few sports in which men and women compete together, like equestrian and the unique winter sport, curling.
Scarlett’s Groundbreaking Win
Scarlett’s win represents an important benchmark for female esports gamers. As the first female winner of a global Starcraft tournament and only the second IEM winner to hail from North America, she took home $50,000. She can add that purse to the more than $200,000 that she had earned over the course of her career. Her impressive winnings garnered her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016 as competitive gaming’s highest earning female player. It also cemented her place as one of esports most popular and well-known female players.
As the only female competitor at the competition, she represents a growing gender diversity in esports as a whole. She took a break from pro Starcraft starting in 2015, citing her poor performance in tournaments. But, it wasn’t long before she returned to the scene, delighting fans with impressive wins in 2016 and 2017. Her wins are important but her mere presence in the esports scene helps to further the cause of gender equality in gaming. With her success and skill, she is someone that female gamers can root for in esports competition. Hopefully, she will continue to inspire the next generation of gamers to continue positive growth and change.
Starcraft 2 is a science fiction, real-time military strategy game produced by Blizzard Entertainment. The original Starcraft was introduced in the 1990s and has long since been considered one of the best real-time strategy games of its time. Starcraft 2 only continues this legacy.
Scarlett dominated the IEM tournament playing as the Zerg, “a terrifying and ruthless amalgamation of biologically advanced, arthropodal aliens”. She defeated two-time world champion Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin, a higher-ranked Starcraft player, in what some consider an upset. Upset or not, spectators report that Scarlett won “handily”.
Starcraft II is available on most platforms.