Adversity – and conquering that adversity – is at the center of any competition. For many, the odds are stacked against them before starting a match or walking onstage. For those who grapple with more challenges than the average person in pursuing their dream career – and who have to work extra hard just to get their foot in the door – esports offers a unique advantage. With the internet and a capable computer or phone, anyone has a shot at improving their skills and surpassing everyone’s expectations of how far they could go.
Cheddar interviewed Sylvia “Queen Arrow” Gathoni (right), pro Tekken player and the first Kenyan to sign with a professional esports organization. Source: Cheddar.
This summer, Capcom featured 31-year-old Mike “Brolylegs” Begum who, despite being born with a condition that prevents the full use of his hands and feet, worked his way to the top ranks of Street Fighter — and aims to teach others his perspective on overcoming obstacles and developing the tenacity to find success. This fall, VKLiooon became the first woman to win an esports world championship at BlizzCon at the Hearthstone Global Finals, and used her post-game interview to encourage other women gamers to never give up on learning, growing, and achieving their dreams, in spite of the difficulties they face. And on Cheddar this past October, Sylvia Gathoni, a Tekken player and the first Kenyan pro gamer to sign with an esports company, shared how mastering a complex game like Tekken taught her to accept challenges, learn from them, and work hard to improve, even in a part of the world where resources and support for esports are scarce.
Finally, pro Overwatch players from Hong Kong overcame a lack of funding and an international controversy to compete at the 2019 Overwatch World Cup. Like other teams outside the top 10, Team Hong Kong was left to find its own funding to compete, managing to drum up just the bare minimum for flights and accommodations. Then, Blizzard’s suspension of Hong Kong Hearthstone pro gamer Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai for showing support for Hong Kong activists on an esports broadcast lit up the internet, and Team Hong Kong had to make a choice: stay home in the wake of the controversy and financial constraints, or continue to aim to represent their country on the global stage. Unexpectedly, Team Ireland and a host of well-wishers across the world were inspired by blitzchung’s actions and rushed to help, quickly raising the full $80,000 needed to fund Team Hong Kong’s travel to BlizzCon plus an extra $10,000 through crowdfunding. While the team ended up falling to Germany in the second round of the tournament, their presence at the event and the global outpouring of support it represented provided a hopeful, positive postscript to an international incident that had sent the esports world into turmoil.
What’s Your Esports Story?
Competitive gaming and communities have existed for decades. These stories (and many others that we couldn’t fit in one post) have proved to us more than ever that esports is only just beginning. With each heartfelt relationship and connection made through tweets, videos, and streams, and with each underdog conquering their personal demons or challengers for the first time, we saw the same core truth. Esports’ potential to serve as a completely new kind of media platform – a platform that connects and empowers people who were not engaged or empowered before – is only just taking wing.
Do you have your own inspiring esports story to share? Let us know on twitter @TheStoryMob, and if you’re hungry for more esports stories, check out our storytelling guide: Beautiful Weirdos: Telling the Stories of Esports Heroes.