Last weekend played host to the Canadian leg of the StarCraft II World Championship Series, and Blizzard’s outrageously popular real-time strategy game has a new champion: Team Acer’s Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn.
It wasn’t just that Scarlett won the Canadian WCS tournament—she won it soundly. In walking away as the new Canadian National Champion, she did so with only one loss under her belt—in contrast to the twelve victories she had earned. (The only opponent she did not go 2-0 against was Ostojiy.)
Scarlett comes off as a shy, soft-spoken person, somebody who just wants to sit down and play the game versus getting her time in the spotlight. That spotlight has shown on her, however, and not just because of her skills at StarCraft II. Already seen as out of place by some due to being a girl wanting to play a “guy’s game”, back in April she spoke up to answer rumors by admitting that, yes, she was indeed transgender.
After deciding that I’d say something about Scarlett and her situation here, I then changed my mind and thought that maybe instead I wouldn’t. Scarlett has made it a point that she’s never tried to bring attention to herself in regards to personal matters, or on any other level beyond her skill at the game. And—given how nervous she indeed seems to be when put into the public eye during the various conversations that have cropped up about her—it’s easy to feel like bringing up that topic yet again might be something to avoid.
At the same time—for good or bad—Scarlett has become one of many recognizable faces in the discussion of diversity in gaming, and her win at the WCS tournament last week wasn’t just a win in terms of mouse kicks and keyboard presses. More and more, she is proving what’s most important in gaming: That is isn’t who you are, what you look like, where you come from, or anything else like that, but what you can do in the game. Some in the community may have found reasons to say why she doesn’t belong, but not only is Scarlett proving that she does belong, but that she can soundly kick your ass in the process.
Scarlett’s story isn’t about being a transgender female who plays StarCraft II, or even simply a female who plays StarCraft II—it’s the story of a person who plays the game, and who is damn good at doing so. From watching the Canadian StarCraft II finals to EVO 2012 a few weeks ago, that’s a point that rings clear and true. Race, sex, region, sexual preference, cultural background, gender identity—all that matters is what you can do when you get a controller/joystick/mouse + keyboard in your hands.
Next up for Scarlett is the North American Championship on August 24th, where she’ll be competing with players from the US and Mexico to earn a spot in the World Champion Series Global finals in Shanghai, China.
Good luck Scarlett—not that you’ll need it.