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One of esports’ top female players breaks new ground at StarCraft 2 tournament

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The highest-earning female pro player just made even more money

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn wins Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang esports competition on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in PyeongChang, South Korea. The event takes place ahead of the Olympic Winter Games 2018.
Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn took home first place at the Olympics-sponsored Intel Extreme Masters tournament.
Intel/ESL

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, one of the most successful women in professional esports, just won her latest tournament. Taking the top prize in the Intel Extreme Masters 2018 tournament, an Olympics-sponsored StarCraft 2 competition that just wrapped in Korea, Scarlett also took home $50,000 — and the title of StarCraft 2’s first female winner of a major, global tournament.

Scarlett is already renowned in the StarCraft 2 community for her numerous wins over the years. With few women in the game’s massively popular competitive scene, Scarlett has garnered widespread acclaim for her accomplishments. She’s also amassed a hefty pile of prize money over the last seven years. Guinness World Records certified the Canadian pro as competitive gaming’s highest earning female player back in 2016, having won over $200,000 during her career.

Winning the IEM, however, is an even bigger milestone. Not only is this the first competition to be held in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (it was even held in the same area as the upcoming Winter Olympics), but IEM now boasts StarCraft 2’s first female player to win first place. It’s especially exciting when factoring in that Scarlett was the only woman to compete this year, and that she was nearly disqualified from the tournament overall; a last-minute change enabled her to participate after losing out during the North American qualifiers in December.

And according to fans who watched the event live, Scarlett won handily — another inspiring moment in an already inspiring career. (An archive exists on Twitch; it’s around the three-hour, three-minute mark.) Intel called her victory an “upset,” but only because she topped Kim “sOs” Yo Jin, a higher ranked StarCraft 2 player.

$50,000 may just be a dent compared to Scarlett’s overall earnings, as well as some of esports’ bigger competitions. Last year’s StarCraft 2 World Championship Series finals came with a $280,000 prize for its first-place winner, for example. But as competitive gaming continues to slowly diversify its player base when it comes to gender identity, Scarlett’s top spot on the podium seems like the biggest win here.