Jessica S. June 18, 2019
Deaf streamer Soliel “Ewok” Wheeler has boomed in popularity at just 13 years of age after prominent streamer Timothy “TimTheTatman” John Betar hosted her and sent her thousands of new viewers.
TimTheTatman first hosted Ewok a few short months ago, when she was a small streamer who primarily played Fortnite on her channel. Since then, she’s ballooned to over 130,000 followers and is quickly becoming a well-known name in and around esports.
Streamers she once looked up to, including Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, became her competitors at the second annual Fortnite Pro-Am tournament held this past weekend.
Since her boom in popularity, Ewok has played on stream with streamers such as Ninja, DrLupo, and others, but this was her first offline competitive event. She got to meet the man responsible for her sudden fame, TimtTheTatman, as well as many others such as entertainer Brendan Urie, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, and Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert, who served as her teammate for the event.
Benkert had taken a particular interest in Ewok and has endeavored to learn ASL after appearing in her Twitch chat. Ewok’s father, a high school ASL teacher, reached out the Benkert asking if he wanted to learn the language. Benkert accepted, and communicated with Ewok during their tournament appearance through ESL.
During and after the event, Ewok tweeted out multiple times to extend her gratitude towards all of the streamers she’d met and to Fortnite developer Epic Games.
“I’m so thankful for all that @EpicGames has done for me and the Deaf community. They learned signs to communicate with me and embraced who I am as a Deaf person and gamer. I already loved @FortniteGame long ago but now this whole experience made me fall in love with it even more,” Ewok said.
Ewok’s popularity has bridged many gaps between the deaf and gaming communities. Epic Games and Fortnite players alike have been an important springboard for her. The outpouring of support from other gamers and the general public says nothing but good things about the future of inclusivity in gaming.