One of the best things about gaming is how accessible it is. Contrary to regular sports, physical fitness is not a prerequisite to participate in esports events. Travelling to distant places to take part in competitions in person is not necessary either, not in every case at least. Professional teams often have their houses, but one can also practice and compete from the comfortable space of one’s home. These and other arguments combined with the potential of significant cash rewards at a relatively young age have inspired many players to take up professional gaming, and increasing number of women continue to prove that men are not the only ones with a competitive spirit.
In this short entry, we introduce a number of accomplished female gamers throughout esports history.
Katherine “Mystik” Gunn – Halo, Street Fighter, Dead or Alive
At one point, Kat was the highest paid female pro gamer in the world and in 2016 she attracted the attention of the Guiness Book of World Records. She was a member of the PMS Clan, participated in a number of tournaments and contrary to many pro gamers today, she did not focus solely on one title. You could see her compete in Halo, Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. Kat Gunn won the second season of WCG Ultimate Gamer, earning the $100,000 prize. Though she no longer competes in tournaments, she continues her video game journey by streaming on Twitch, often with her sister and father. She has been playing CoD: Warzone a lot recently.
Seo "ToSsGirL" Ji Soo – StarCraft
Some believe that female professional gamers have been stepping into the limelight only recently, but that’s far from the truth. Seo began playing the original StarCraft back in 1999, after her father showed her the game. Little did he know, that at the age of 16 his daughter would decide to pursue a professional gaming career. Her dad did not like the idea and Seo used to sneak out of her family home at night to play in local tournaments in Seoul. ToSsGirL retired in 2012, after an esports career of about 11 years – more than many other professional players today. During her career, she managed to defeat many great players, including FreeMura, YellOw and Modern, and she won every female league she competed in.
Ricki Sophie Ortiz – multiple fighting games
Few people can boast as many achievements on the fighting scene as Ricki Ortiz who had her first attempts at competitive gaming as early as in 2003. She has so far competed in more than 60 tournaments, achieving very good results. Ricki played multiple fighting games across nearly 2 decades of her career, including the Street Fighter series, Marvel vs. Capcom and Tekken. She is currently a member of one of the most famous esports teams – Evil Geniuses. Her gaming earnings are estimated at over $81,000 according to esportsearnings.com. She prefers Marvel vs. Capcom games over Street Fighter, and points to Chun-Li as her favorite character. She mentioned spending much of her childhood at the local arcade after school.
Zainab “zAAz” Turkie – Counter Strike: Global Offensive
The Swedish player of Lebanese origin is currently a member of XSET, where she assumed the role of a rifler. She wanted to compete in gaming since she was 15, and before engaging in CS:GO she had also played the original Counter Strike. Her dad was against her entering the esports scene and wanted her to focus on education, so she often travelled to tournaments (including Dreamhack) behind his back. Between 2008 and 2020, the teams she was a part of scored a number of victories, winning 10 important tournaments, including three consecutive 1st places at Intel Challenge Katowice 2015-2017. She has participated in 39 tournaments so far and earned well over $50,000 in prize money.
Tina “Tinaraes” Perez – Call of Duty, H1Z1, Fortnite
Tina used to play games on consoles, but switched to PC in 2017, focusing on battle royale and becoming a successful H1Z1 player. She humorously says she was born in a gaming family, as both of her parents and even her aunt are avid gamers. She has been playing competitively for over 13 years, focusing on CoD for the better part of that time. In 2019, she won Twitch Rivals: TwitchCon Fortnite Showdown, earning $39,000, and her total earnings now exceed $66,000. Tina is currently a member of Gen.G Esports and lives in LA. Moving from her family home, which was full of people and animals, to a flat with just one other person – her duo Fortnite partner – was a big change for her. Today, you can also watch her stream multiple titles on Twitch.
Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn – StarCraft II
Scarlett is hands down the most accomplished and highest earning woman in esports, with over 217 tournaments in her portfolio, a whopping $393,500 in prize money, and a number of trophies to boast. Her mastery of the Zerg race is envied by many and has earned her the nickname the Queen of Blades, after one of the most recognizable protagonists of the game. She has played SC2 competitively since 2011 and that year she won the NESL Iron Lady tournament. She was invited to relocate to South Korea in 2013 as part of the Axiom-Acer team for the GOMTV Global StarCraft II Team League. Scarlett defeated Kim ‘sOs’ Yoo Jin 4-1 in a now iconic series and became the first female to come out victorious in a major premier SC2 championship. Similarly to Kat Gunn before her, she was recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s highest earning female professional gamer.