Chinese esports player Li “VKLiooon” Xiaomeng won this year's Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals at BlizzCon — making the 23-year-old the first woman ever to do so, as well as the first woman ever to win a BlizzCon grand final at all.
Hearthstone is a popular esports card game published by Blizzard Entertainment, and this past weekend, professional players the world over descended on BlizzCon in Anaheim, CA, to compete in a tournament across Blizzard's most popular game franchises, including Hearthstone, Starcraft, and Mythic Dungeon.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 46 percent of gamers in 2019 are women. But that statistic doesn't carry over when it comes to the gender breakdown of esports players, where there is a huge disparity between the numbers of men and women represented — which is what makes VKLiooon's win so important.
In her acceptance speech, VKLiooon acknowledged this gender disparity while encouraging other women to follow in her footsteps: "Two years ago, I remember when I was competing in a huge tournament, I was waiting in line for backup sign-ups, and there was this guy telling me that if you're a girl, you shouldn't wait in in line here — it's not for you. And now today, I'm here with all the support from the fans. So I want to say to all the girls out there who have a dream for esports, for competition, for glory, if you want to do it and you believe in yourself, you should just forget your gender and go for it."