Overwatch and Women: Shanghai Dragons Finally Sign Geguri

Geguri and Zarya

Shanghai Dragons finally signed Geguri. The woman so good she was accused of cheating.

During the opening weeks of the Overwatch League, droves of people and organizations expressed concern over the lack of female players on the teams.  The league faced plenty of scrutiny for this and when asked about the lack of inclusion, teams came up with many excuses.

Some cited the language barrier. Others fear of negative publicity. Some even claimed women just lacked interest.

Popular female Overwatch streamer AnneMunition had a few words to say on the topic:

“I think the way we get more young women involved in professional gaming is by female streamers and gamers representing women in a positive way online, encouraging people to treat others online with respect (especially discouraging hateful comments based on gender, race, religion, etc), and by the leading male content creators and professional gamers setting a positive example for young men to follow. “

Women are finally seeing some representation in professional gaming

This week, news broke that the Shanghai Dragons of the new Overwatch League will be signing Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon.  Along with Geguri, the team is signing two other South Koreans to their roster.

Geguri is a tank specialist who has been recognized as one of the best Zarya players in the world.  Back in 2016, Geguri was accused of cheating since she was so successful.  She promptly proved these accusers wrong in an hour long stream.  Why it took a team this long to sign her is up for debate.

Geguri has remained ever neutral on the issue. Rod Breslau of Slasher reported that she believed not being signed off the bat had “nothing to do with her being a woman.” She also wanted to distance herself from the controversy as much as possible.

Whether she likes it or not, Geguri is becoming a trailblazer in her own right.  At this point, she will not be able to escape the spotlight that comes with being the first female player signed to an Overwatch League team.

Why are the Dragons really signing Geguri?

The Shanghai Dragons have been having trouble in competition so far during this season.  They are poised to finish the season at the back of the pack without a single win.

Are the Dragons taking a positive step towards the inclusion of women in eSports?

It seems as though Shanghai may be signing Geguri mostly as a public relations stunt or a last-ditch effort to garner support from fans.  It also seems to be working. Just yesterday I had to stop myself from ordering a Shanghai Dragons t-shirt from the online Overwatch League merchandise store.

As the only team without a single win during season one, the Dragons need all the help they can get.  Currently the Dragons are made up solely of Chinese players, so there is expected to be an issue with language and communication.  Shanghai cannot really expect that adding these Korean players randomly to an all Chinese team will actually improve their performance. At this point, drastic measures may be their only option.

Popular gamers seem to be in support of Geguri’s inclusion in the league.

AnneMunition said of the recent developments involving women in eSports:

“Seeing as how Geguri was just confirmed as a new member of the OWL’s Shanghai Dragons and Scarlett just won IEM Pyeongchang, I think it’s safe to say that the trend is for more women to be seen getting involved in eSports and I’m thrilled.”

I could not agree more.

The player that is mentioned above “Scarlett” is a transgender female professional StarCraft player who has recently been dominating the professional scene.  Hopefully she and Geguri together can become pioneers for women in professional eSports.

Overwatch is finally making a statement. Hopefully the trend continues.

Next season several teams will likely be added to the Overwatch League, so hopefully they will also be signing female players.  Since we did see Geguri signed before the completion of the first season of the Overwatch League, Overwatch will likely become viewed even more of a trailblazer in the inclusion of women in video games.

There are currently 12 Overwatch League teams, and Shanghai will be the only one with a female rostered to their team.

Female gamers should do their best to stop shying away from conflict. Instead, they should do their best to embrace the controversy surrounding their participation in the gaming sphere. To see more inclusion in the eSports world, we have to step up, show our skill, and have our voices heard.  Overwatch is a game that will continue to be a great platform for this.

From February 12th through April 5, Overwatch teams are allowed to sign new players.  In order to be eligible to play, players must be 18 years of age and meet requirements for a work visa in the U.S. Stage two of season one began February 21, and new players were eligible to play at this time.

Philadelphia’s new player “Carpe” was integral in securing the team’s win against the Florida team in the opener for the second part of season 2.

Visa issues

The new players signed to Shanghai’s team will not be able to compete until later in the season due to visa issues.  Athletic visas are hard to come by in the United States and the process may take weeks or months.  The Philadelphia Fusion missed the entirety of the pre-season in December because of issues acquiring visas for their rostered players.

Hopefully Geguri and her new teammates can solve their visa issues quickly and get onto the big stage soon.  Keep it here for more Overwatch League news.

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