OWL 2018: Shanghai Dragons to sign Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon
A barrier was broken today with the news being reported that the Overwatch League is likely to see its first female pro in the very near future. Pending confirmation of the deal, it looks as though the South Korean off-tank player Kim "Geguri" Se-yeon is set to join last-place Shanghai Dragons, alongside Element Mystic’s Lee "Fearless" Eui-Seok and MVP Space’s versatile Cheon "Ado" Ki-hyun.
As mentioned, Shanghai Dragons are currently ranked as the worst team in the OWL, sitting last in the standings, and the more cynical among you might view this as an attempt to grab headlines for something other than their abject play. However, sources inside the scene have vouched for Geguri’s extreme ability and potential to not only play on, but improve the Shanghai side, in turn highlighting a problem for many high profile women currently in the space.
Due to a lack of women, especially top level players, any woman who makes it to the upper echelons of the game is instantly held up as some sort of symbol, rather than being able to just work and exist on their merits. The same is true for commentators and even hosts that make it, although players and commentators generally don’t have to fight off accusations that they only got the job on their looks, as hosts may.
Dragons no stranger to controversy
This is not to say that the path for women looking to get to the top is easier, with much research suggesting that the opposite could be true, but simply a comment on the weight any such player has to carry. With any luck she’ll be allowed to settle in like any other player, and not be judge on her uniqueness, but we’ve see enough recent examples to doubt that will be the case.
The Dragons are in their very existence a controversial team, with the money behind them provided by one of Blizzard’s commercial partners, Netease. While there is no allegation of improper conduct at this stage, it seems amazing that a company of the size and ambition of Blizzard would allow such an obvious conflict of interest to overshadow their project, but they may have been (rightly) relying on the lack of interest in such topics from the majority of the esports press.
It will be interesting to see how the three Korean additions blend with their new team-mates, who are exclusively Mandarin speakers at this point, with the new arrivals expected to learn fast according to reports. With two games left of the first stage, against Dallas and LA, Shanghai are yet to win a map, and will probably use this time to test combinations for the next phase of the competition, treating those matches as practice runs.