Dec 21 2013 - 2:00 pm

Meet Scarlett, the 20-year-old woman who's blazing trails in 'StarCraft'

This was the biggest year ever for eSports
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

This was the biggest year ever for eSports. Competitive gaming has more players, a bigger audience, and a brighter future than ever before. Over the next 10 days, the Daily Dot will profile people who've fueled  this unprecedented growth, from top players to industry visionaries. In our first in the series, we look at Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn, the 20-year-old StarCraft 2 phenom from Canada.

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StarCraft is a South Korean game.

Sure, the Blizzard real-time strategy hit was made by Americans. And many of the most lucrative tournaments and contracts are doling out millions of dollars in the Western world. But the game’s greatest players are almost all Korean and have been since 2000.

Even after League of Legends effectively conquered the country’s insatiable appetite for online games, it still feels just right to see the Korean flag next to gold medals at StarCraft 2 events.

But then there's the curious case of Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, one of the best players in the world, who breaks the mold completely. She’s a 20-year-old Canadian transgendered female with injury-prone wrists and a penchant for beating Koreans at their own game. Known alternatively as “Korean Kryptonite” and “The Queen of Blades,” she’s built up an enormous fanbase that rivals any StarCraft player in the world.

Hostyn burst into the public eye in early 2012 when she pulled off a series of upset wins against a handful of big-time professionals at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. Fans wondered who the new kid was. The event changed her life.

The response ot her success from the gaming world was was mixed. Many people celebrated her wins. But a loud minority of fans attacked her gender identity at every opportunity. Hostyn herself rarely talks about this aspect of her life, even going so far as to say it’s disrespectful to even acknowledge the fact in online encyclopedia entries about her.

“I have always tried to make it a complete non-issue,” she wrote, “and including this [in my player page] is subverting that and akin to mentioning someone is the best gay/black/etc player; something that has absolutely no relevance on how they play.”

The eSports community has embraced Hostyn as a favorite for many reasons that have little to do with her gender identity. It’s easy to see why.

In the past month, she’s sparked a rivalry with Jaedong, the highest earning eSports player of all time. She placed third at Red Bull’s Battle Grounds New York City, where she played one of the most exciting matches in memory against Bomber, one of the best players in the world, en route to a silver medal, making her easily stand well above any other non-Korean player.

Hostyn’s impressive StarCraft talent combined with her singular personal story as a pioneer make her one of the most important people in eSports today. And yet, just as Hostyn hit her stride, she announced last month that she may be quitting the game in 2014.

Screengrab via ESL TV/YouTube

Today - 5:28 pm

Combo Breaker announcement may imply the end of auto-qualifiers for Capcom Pro Tour

Capcom may be trying to simplify its 2017 Pro Tour.
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports
Image via Capcom

A big change is coming to the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour, but yesterday's announcement may have hinted at an even larger change—a possible end to players winning automatic qualification into the Capcom Cup through Premier events.

The Street Fighter V tournament at Combo Breaker is being upgraded to a Premier event for the 2017 Pro Tour, Capcom announced via Twitter. The event, which will take place in the Chicago area over Memorial Day weekend, served as a Ranking event in 2015 and 2016. Its spiritual predecessor, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament, filled the same role in 2014.

Premier events award more Capcom Pro Tour points to top performers compared to Ranking events. A yet-to-be-announced number of the season's top points earners will earn a spot in the Capcom Cup, the season's championship event. Premier events also offer a Capcom-provided pot bonus. The figure has not yet been confirmed by Capcom, but it is believed to be $15,000.

In previous years, a player who won a Premier event received an automatic berth in that season's Capcom Cup. Thursday's announcement, however, may have implied that this is no longer the case.

An update on Combo Breaker's website stated that placing well at the event "will earn you valuable ranking points that put you well on your way to qualifying for the Capcom Cup!"

Notably, the statement makes no mention of an automatic berth into the Capcom Cup, something that every Premier event winner has been awarded since the Pro Tour's founding in 2014.

The statement does not necessarily confirm that auto-qualification into the Capcom Cup has been eliminated. It does, however, fall in line with statements made by Capcom esports director Neidel Crisan. In conversations with both Yahoo! Esports and EventHubs late last year, Crisan mentioned the possibility of eliminating auto-qualification berths in order to simplify the qualifying process.

A player had three ways to qualify for the Capcom Cup in 2016; winning a Premier event, placing high in the global Pro Tour points standings, or placing high in each region's Pro Tour points standings. The system confused fans, commentators, and players alike.

We may not know how qualification for the Capcom Cup will work in 2017, but we do know that the tour itself will look a bit different than it has in previous years.

Combo Breaker will presumably fill a gap left by Stunfest, a French gaming convention that that served as a Premier event on the Pro Tour in each of the last two years. Organizers of that event announced a "pause" for the convention late last year with plans to return in 2018.

The tour will also be without Cannes Winter Clash, the other French event that was part of the 2016 tour. Organizers of that event, which will take place during the last weekend in February, announced the change last week in a Reddit post. The event had served as the Pro Tour's season opener in both 2015 and 2016.

"Obviously with Cannes and Stunfest out there will need to be at least one French replacement event," Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki, a competitor and commentator who is involved in the organization of the Cannes Winter Clash, told Dot Esports. "[Capcom] can't leave France out of [the Capcom Pro Tour] when it's arguably the biggest community in Europe - and maybe [the] strongest."

France is the only European country that has sent two players to the Capcom Cup in each of the last two years. It is also home to Olivier "Luffy" Hay, the only player from outside of Asia to win a Street Fighter IV Evo title.

One event that will return is Final Round. On Wednesday, Capcom announced that Final Round will serve as the first Premier event of the season for the fourth straight year. That event, now in its 20th year, will take place in Atlanta during the second weekend of March.

Capcom will announce full details of the 2017 Pro Tour in late February.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked as part of the volunteer staff at Combo Breaker/Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament since 2014.

Today - 12:27 am

University of Toronto students can now apply for an esports scholarship

Who said gaming was a waste of time?
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Image via CC 3.0

Canada's top-rated university will begin taking applications for an esports scholarship to be awarded next year.

University of Toronto alumnus Victor Xin started the scholarship program as a way of providing extra support to students who want to hone their skills in competitive gaming. While this is the first such scholarship to be introduced in Canada, several U.S.-based universities such as University of California, Irvine began offering esports scholarships in 2016.

Xin works at Toronto-based wealth management firm Athena Capital Partners, which also funds the scholarship. He told the university that students that display competitive drive through computer games shouldn't be distracted from trying achieving success in the world of esports.

"There are trailblazers on campus who are rallying a different set of students to build campus organizations focused on an alternative way of learning to lead and succeed in life," Xin told the university. The former student, who graduated in 2008 after studying at its Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, began following StarCraft during his tenure at the institution and also founded the University of Toronto eSports Club. For Xin, the fund is aimed at making sure that students who show drive and leadership through esports won't "fall through the cracks."

Are you thinking of applying for the Victor Xin scholarship? The requirements are: That you're an undergraduate at the university's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, you've got a 3.5 GPA, and participate regularly in gaming-related extra-curricular activities. If it means we get to play League of Legends during school hours, we're totally in.