When "Ellie" joined the Overwatch pro team Second Wind back in December, it was an exciting roster addition despite not knowing much about the player herself. Simply going by "Ellie" made her entrance mysterious, and that mystery set off a chain of events which led to overwhelming harassment from other players and fans calling her skills into question - some even saying she's never even played the game.
Second Wind is a very respected team in the Overwatch League scene, so any new roster addition is going to garner interest. That being said, many of the posts that were noted on social sites such as Twitter and Reddit seemed to want to make it all about gender - stating that her lower level account was suspicious and that the only reason she was allowed to play was because she was female. Some even went as far as to say there's no way she's a woman if she's playing pro.
Even other pro players weighed in, with Atlanta Reign's Danien "Dafran" Francesca stating publicly that he didn't think it was actually her playing, but instead someone else with her talking into the mic.
In contention with the conspiracy theories, many offered that since she went to such lengths to maintain privacy regarding her name that perhaps the lower-level account was a "smurf" account as a way to keep that privacy controlled.
As with most online harassment cases, it escalated quickly and doxxing became a serious concern. This mounted to a level that finally prompted Ellie to quit.
Second Wind's Justin Hughes mentioned "When we brought her onto the team, people acted like we had brought on a symbol of empowerment," Hughes wrote in a Twitter post. "I get that people meant well, but on one side, we had people questioning her legitimacy, issuing threats, etc. while on the other hand, we had people acting like they had found their Messiah. Between needing a player to live up to huge expectations and having to question their own safety, it seems that the OW community isn't ready to just view a player as just a player. We wanted a player, but it seemed like the public wanted something else."
Others weighed in, such as Washington Justice's Kate Mitchell "It's absolutely unacceptable for members of this community to bully, harass or doxx players for their gender," she said on Twitter. "It shows why there's so few women in this sport. We have to do better, not just for the women and girls playing this game now, but for those growing up watching us."
At this time, though gaming should just be about the player and nothing else, the esports team is still very much a male-dominated area. Though female pros continue to break in and show off their skills, cases like this just prove there there is still so much progress to be made.1comments
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