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Frog to save Dragons

Kim+%22Geguri%22+Se-yeon+is+an+off-tank+player+for+the+Shanghai+Dragons%2C+and+the+first+female+player+in+the+Overwatch+League.+
Kim

Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon is an off-tank player for the Shanghai Dragons, and the first female player in the Overwatch League.

Amanda Figueroa

Amanda Figueroa

Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon is an off-tank player for the Shanghai Dragons, and the first female player in the Overwatch League.

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It started in 2016 as Blizzard Entertainment’s “ambitious new eSports organization.” It was highly anticipated last year by eSports fans and those getting into it.

This year it began again, reworked and better because of it, but now it raises questions.

Blizzard’s newly integrated “Overwatch League” has found its way into popular broadcasted eSports. It consists of twelve teams, each based in a city and having rosters of six or more players. Blizzard hyped up the OWL and, in turn, received a $90 million offer by twitch.tv for permission to stream it. However, questions remained. Across all twelve of the teams’ extensive rosters, many popular professional players were missing, and no women were represented.

Specifically, people questioned the absence of world-renowned Zarya player Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon (also known as 개구리, or frog135 on Twitch), a Korean player who is so good that she received hackusations from another popular player, Yeon-oh “fl0w3r” Hwang, a former Overwatch World Cup player for team South Korea, last year’s champions.

Currently, fl0w3r is on the inactive roster for the New York Excelsior because he is too young to officially participate in the current stages of OWL.

So why is it, fans wondered, that fl0w3r would be on a team, and not Geguri? She also had a professional background for participating in South Korea’s APEX tournament. Interviewers questioned some of teams as well as Geguri herself on the matter.

There were valid arguments; language barriers could potentially be a hindrance to team play. Another argument was that team housing would be an issue, as male players might harass her. Blizzard recently added a set of rules to circumvent this posibility as well as in light of the Stage 1 ban of Dallas Fuel’s Félix “xQc” Lengyel.

The Houston Outlaws’ manager Matt Rodriguez, according to Kotaku.com, suggested that it would be a bad business move to sign Geguri because “it would be viewed as a PR stunt.” Possibly, but how would having the first female player in the OWL on your team be bad PR? Probably only if you left her on the bench.

The Outlaws’ Jacob “JAKE” Lyon claimed, on Kotaku, that “People would always be doubting, always be judging. So it has to be the right person, the right player, and those things have to come together at the right moment—which makes it especially hard for women in the scene right now.”

Although people will undoubtedly be judgemental, there is no way to fix that simply by excluding women from professional gaming and, by extension, casual gaming in general. If not now, when? If not her, then who?

And so it came to be. Geguri was recently announced to be participating in Stage 2 of the OWL. Although female fans rejoiced at this, Geguri said that she did not want to be recognized for being a woman, but rather as a good player.

Many at first anticipated that she would be joining the leading team in map wins, NYXL, because she said she would be joining a “foreign team” and NYXL has space in its roster for a new off-tank player. Since the NYXL is based in New York, but still has a full Korean roster, she would have been on a foreign team, but with no language barriers.

It came as a shock to many when she revealed that she would be joining the Shanghai Dragons, the team currently in last place in both map wins and match wins. Thus far, the SHD have not won a single match and have gained few maps. Additionally, Geguri along with the other Korean players being added to the roster, Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee and Gi-hyeon “Ado” Chon, will have to learn Mandarin to be able to communicate with her teammates. She is also currently learning English,which is already tall order.

Many fans of the OWL are excited to see Geguri enter the league, not only as a female player, but as a good enough player to bring the SHD out of their losing streak. Roster changes and additions in OWL all happened at the beginning of the Stage 2 on Wednesday, Feb. 21; however, the additions to the SHD have been delayed because of issues with the players’ visas. Because of this, Geguri and the other Korean and Chinese players will not be participating until the later weeks of Stage 2.

It is great for inclusivity in gaming to have Geguri, which reflects Overwatch’s own D.va who is a professional Korean female gamer. Of course, it is also great that she happens to be a darn good player. Hopefully, more inclusion of women in professional gaming could lead to more acceptance of women in gaming in general. Hopefully, harassment of players will cease regardless of what they sound or look like.

Many have been cheering on the Shanghai Dragons as the underdogs in the tournament; their current position comes from management corruption and frequent poor team synergy. The addition of these top tier players may turn the tide for Shanghai.

Viewers will see in the coming weeks as the the second stage of the Overwatch League continues Wednesday through Saturday each week until Sunday, March 25, when the Stage 2 title matches will be held.

OWL will then take a break before entering into Stage 3 which will begin in April.

Should you wish to watch the matches yourself, they play on the Overwatch League’s official website  on twitch.tv, and at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

 

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