Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, one of the most successful women in professional esports, just won her latest tournament. Taking the top prize in the Intel Extreme Masters 2018 tournament, an Olympics-sponsoredStarCraft 2 competition that just wrapped in Korea, Scarlett also took home $50,000 — and the title of StarCraft 2’s first female winner of a major, global tournament.
Scarlett is already renowned in the StarCraft 2 community for her numerous wins over the years. With few women in the game’s massively popular competitive scene, Scarlett has garnered widespread acclaim for her accomplishments. She’s also amassed a hefty pile of prize money over the last seven years. Guinness World Records certified the Canadian pro as competitive gaming’s highest earning female player back in 2016, having won over $200,000 during her career.
Winning the IEM, however, is an even bigger milestone. Not only is this the first competition to be held in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (it was even held in the same area as the upcoming Winter Olympics), but IEM now boasts StarCraft 2’s first female player to win first place. It’s especially exciting when factoring in that Scarlett was the only woman to compete this year, and that she was nearly disqualified from the tournament overall; a last-minute change enabled her to participate after losing out during the North American qualifiers in December.
And according to fans who watched the event live, Scarlett won handily — another inspiring moment in an already inspiring career. (An archive exists on Twitch; it’s around the three-hour, three-minute mark.) Intel called her victory an “upset,” but only because she topped Kim “sOs” Yo Jin, a higher ranked StarCraft 2 player.
$50,000 may just be a dent compared to Scarlett’s overall earnings, as well as some of esports’ bigger competitions. Last year’s StarCraft 2 World Championship Series finals came with a $280,000 prize for its first-place winner, for example. But as competitive gaming continues to slowly diversify its player base when it comes to gender identity, Scarlett’s top spot on the podium seems like the biggest win here.
Sasha Hostyn (born December 1993), also known by her username Scarlett, is a Canadian professional video game player. She is most known for her performance in StarCraft II, though she briefly dabbled in Dota 2. After not meeting any success in Dota 2, she has returned to playing StarCraft II for Team Expert as of August 17, 2016. As of February 2018, she is the only female player to win a major international StarCraft II tournament.
Hostyn grew up in Kingston, Ontario and played games as a hobby during school and began to enter tournaments in 2011, leading to her career as a professional player. She is a transgender woman. Regarding her gender identity, Hostyn has said it has "absolutely no relevance" to how she plays and that she has "always tried to make it a complete non-issue".
Hostyn became prominent in the StarCraft scene in 2012 when she beat a number of highly ranked professionals at an event in Las Vegas. In 2013, she climbed the global StarCraft rankings to rank 21 and placed second at NorthCon. By mid-2014, Hostyn had taken first place in seven tournaments, making her the second highest-paid professional female gamer at the time. Since she began competing in tournaments, Hostyn has won over $110,000.
During her time playing StarCraft, Hostyn has been called "the queen of StarCraft II" and the "Korean Kryptonite".The New Yorker called her "the most accomplished woman in e-sports". She was the only Red Bull Battle Grounds 2014 finalist from a country other than South Korea. In 2014, Polygon named her one of 2014's 50 admirable gaming people, describing her as "one of the few women succeeding at the top level of the StarCraft II pro scene".
Having lost some of her "competitive drive" for StarCraft, Hostyn switched to playing Dota 2 in February 2015, saying "I’ve been playing a lot of Dota 2 so I'm going to practise and see if I can get good at that."
Return to StarCraft II
As of June 2015, Hostyn has returned to StarCraft II, joining the Dead Pixels team and will compete in Korean leagues.
On August 17, 2016 Scarlett joined Team Expert.
In February, 2018, Scarlett won the Intel Extreme Masters tournament, held in the leadup to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Scarlett was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as "highest career earnings for a female competitive video game player" on October 5, 2016.
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