Xiaomeng “VKLiooon” Li, known to her fans simply as Lion, is the winner of Hearthstone Grandmasters 2019 and the first woman to win a global Hearthstone tournament in the history of esports. Though they play in a male-dominated scene, Lion proved there’s no reason why women should be overlooked when it comes to professional gaming.
Lion took the win in dominant fashion, sweeping Brian “bloodyface” Eason 3-0 in the finals, and becoming the first woman to win a BlizzCon championship. Together with a shiny trophy, she took home a $200,000 first-place prize.
Although she’s happy to prove that all pro players are equally valuable and competitive regardless of gender, Lion also shared she hasn’t received as much gender-based criticism as the community might have expected. Even though there were negative comments and doubts, there was also a lot of support, and she focused only on the good.
“I want to say to girls who want to compete that it could be challenging, you may encounter so many difficulties, but as long as you made up your mind, you should never give it up,” Lion said in the post-game interview. “You should try your best, always work on your technique, keep your chin down, be humble, learn, and progress.”
Lion might be humble, but she’s sending an important message across the industry. Her major achievement has not only proved the point that in-game skill has nothing to do with gender, but she also became an inspiration to women who dream of themselves becoming competitive players but are hiding behind a wall of stigma.
With the earnings from the Grandmasters, Lion took second place on the list of the highest earning female players. According to Esports Earnings, in front of Lion’s $200,000 is only Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, who has earned almost $350,000 competing in StarCraft 2.
If put on the overall list of players with the highest earnings in esports, however, neither Scarlett nor Lion would make the top 100. Highest earning male players have earned millions of dollars, which shows that the female contingent of the scene is still at an earlier stage of development.