Just a few days after beating Elliot Bastien “Ally” Carroza-Oyaarce in a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament, Bocchi decided she was never playing the game again.
The 15-year-old Isabelle main took a break from streaming and competing and started using social media less in an attempt to avoid the Smash community. Because after beating Ally, arguably the best Snake player in the world, Bocchi was getting harassed.
“The worst of it comes from being a girl, too. They get on my ass, saying all kinds of rude shit. And it’s beyond stressful. I highkey wish I didn’t play Smash right now. FUCK,” Bocchi tweeted on an account that is currently deactivated.
It seemed the harassment Bocchi faced was getting even worse as media outlets continued to write stories about her victory over the seasoned pro. Even fellow Ultimate competitor Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios had featured Bocchi on his YouTube channel in which he analyzed the match. The video now has more than 500,000 views.
According to ZeRo, he’s made videos about many individuals throughout the year, and most of the players in the videos benefited from the exposure in a positive way. It would be different for Bocchi.
“Only Bocchi has received a lot of hate and it seems to come mainly from the fact that she is a girl. I hate how people act in this community about girls,” ZeRo said on Reddit.
The harassment was so bad, in fact, that Bocchi even withdrew from signing with esports organization Gravity Gaming. The team had offered Bocchi a deal as both a competitor and content creator. But Bocchi soon felt the decision was made too hastily and backed out of the contract.
Instead, Bocchi has quit the game and disappeared from social media.
In the final moments of her match versus Ally, you see both fighters dancing around the stage with over 100 damage each. The next kill move would decide the winner, and both players knew it. When Ally misses a grab, Bocchi punishes him with a devastating down smash that sends his Snake flying.
As Ally attemps to comprehend what just happened, live videos of the match show the audience getting up, jumping around and screaming in shock and celebration. But that was short-lived. Soon, she was being bullied out of the competitive Smash scene.
One negative tweet that came out soon after the win read: “Puppeh, who’s 16, beats Nairo, Abadango, Esam, and Samsora at basically an S-tier and has gained like one follower. Bocchi, who is a 15 year old gamer girl, beats Ally at a local winners side and gains 8K.”
That thought was echoed throughout the Smash community, with many players feeling Bocchi was only getting recognition from news outlets and within the community itself because of her gender. While others have countered that it’s her choice of the low-tier Isabelle that made the win exciting, the bullies continued to push the narrative that Bocchi was only getting attention because she was a girl.
“Fame sucks. I literally would have rather lost the set and have done nothing,” Bocchi tweeted about all of the subsequent attention. “I just want to play the game and improve. Who cares if I’m a girl or got a lot of attention. Leave me alone. Please.”
As Bocchi continued to express her distress on Twitter, some players from the Smash community showed her support. Many have asked her if she’s okay, which prompted her to post a tweet telling people that she is okay, but very overwhelmed.
WIN.gg reached out to Bocchi, but she was still not comfortable speaking to press at this time.
Ally has not made a single statement on Twitter about the loss. But his supporters continued to harass Bocchi until she deactivated her Twitter and vowed to never come back to the competitive scene. And if she did, she said it would be under a new identity.
It’s strange that the Smash community wouldn’t expect Bocchi to get attention for being a young girl. While it played no role in her victory that day, it obviously made the win stand out more than usual. There aren’t many professional Smash players identifying as female, and it’s difficult for many Smash fans to even mention more than one notable woman in the scene.
But maybe this Bocchi situation sheds a light on why that is.
Sexism is nothing new in Smash, nor in the esports industry as a whole. Only one woman has competed in the League of Legends Championship Series. Transgender woman Maria “Remilia” Creveling removed herself from the Renegades’ roster just a few weeks into the 2015 season, after live streams were flooded with sexist and transphobic comments. Instead of the match itself, users focused on Remilia’s looks and her identity.
The Overwatch League has also only had one female gamer in its two seasons. Kim “Geguri” Se-Yeon was signed to the Shanghai Dragons before Season 2, but has been reluctant to call herself a female role model. Instead, she wishes she could just be viewed as a talented gamer.
At a press conference, Geguri said, “Being the icon or being looked up to because I’m female — I’m grateful. But I don’t really have any thoughts about it. That’s not how I want to be known.”
Female competitors are often designated to their own leagues, where they only compete against other women. This brings more attention to their gender, making it a big part of their team’s identity in the esports industry.
While most likely meant to be a source of empowerment, these all-female competitions often lead esports fans to wonder if the women would have what it takes to compete with the men. Still, others feel the leagues exist so women can enjoy high-level esports competitions without sexism, toxicity, and harassment clouding the experience.
It’s a common stereotype that women aren’t as good at video games, and this carries over into the comptitive scene as well. But when a woman is finally good enough to not only compete against men, but to win, she might immediately be bullied into quitting.