The Shanghai Dragons are set to welcome the first female player to the Overwatch League.
According to a report from ESPN, South Korean Overwatch pro Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon will be joining the Dragons very soon as one of three new additions to the struggling Shanghai team.
This addition would be a landmark announcement not just for the Overwatch League but for esports in general, a landscape known for an extreme lack of female representation at its highest levels.
Geguri first rose to prominence within Overwatch circles after other players started to take note of her outstanding win percentages and statistics as a Zarya player. However, with the notoriety came an onslaught of cheating accusations. Even after Blizzard Korea cleared Geguri’s name, she felt forced to stream herself playing the game to further prove her innocence.
Since then, Geguri has played in APEX on the professional Overwatch team ROX Orcas. When Overwatch League teams started acquiring players, many were surprised that Geguri did not receive any offers. Indeed, it was just one aspect discussed in the larger conversation about the lack of women in the Overwatch League. Geguri herself was uncomfortable with any undercurrents of animosity directed at the Overwatch League stemming from the idea that the league had a prejudice against female players.
Even if you were to take a rose-colored view of the Overwatch League, it’s no secret that the Overwatch community as a whole struggles with toxicity, and especially toxicity against female players. A recent piece on Polygon’s Overwatch-focused site Heroes Never Die dug into possibility that toxicity could be a very real deterrent to female players who aspire to go pro, which in turn leads to less female presence in the professional esports talent pool.
The importance of Geguri’s entry into the Overwatch League cannot be understated. As a game with a large and diverse fanbase, Geguri could end up becoming a huge role model to the many women and girls who love Overwatch. A quick look at the live audience for Overwatch League matches shows not only a good mix of men and women but of young girls as well, happily sitting next to their parents and cheering on their favorite team with just as much gusto as the adults in the room. With a female on stage, these girls will see that Overwatch is just as much a game for them as a game for the boys.
Geguri will also be pretty important addition to her future team. As of this writing, the Shanghai Dragons are still winless and looking for a way to turn things around. ESPN reports that Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and Cheon “Ado” Ki-hyun will also be joining the Dragons, offering the team more tank and flex resources. With three South Korean players joining a group of all Mandarin speakers, establishing clear lines of communication will be the team’s biggest challenge and their biggest priority.