Ellie's Harassment and Exit From Overwatch Contenders Highlights Toxicity Toward Women in Competitive eSports

Just before Christmas, Ellie was signed to Overwatch minor leagues, Overwatch Contenders with Second Wind. After receiving threats of doxxing, Ellie stepped down from the league after only 11 days.

On December 21, a professional female gamer, Ellie, tried out for Overwatch Contenders and made the league. Three days later, Ellie tweeted “screenshots that had been passed to her showing a coordinated effort in a Discord room to doxx her.”

Doxxing is finding an individual’s personal information: name, address, phone numbers, etc. and publicizing it

Ellie seemingly appeared out of nowhere and placed 10/10. She also did not register using her real name, which fanned people’s suspicion of her. Because of her mysterious appearance, Overwatch league fans on reddit speculated about who she was and accused Ellie of everything from being fake to cheating. To prove her legitimacy, Ellie streamed on Twitch playing with teammates, although, she did not use a web cam. Many were still unconvinced that Ellie was real. There is no way a girl player could be that good. Fans accused several top male Overwatch players of playing the account while Ellie was simply the voice. Some called said Ellie’s voice was fake. Amid more threats and sexual harassment, including from Haunt, Ellie stepped down from the team.

Then, Game Informer reported that Ellie was indeed fake.

Streamers such as Poison, who supposedly streamed with Ellie, are now stating that the entire thing was a social experiment created by them. Based on their admissions on-stream, Poison asked a 17-year-old girl to pose as him while he played for an experiment that he has yet to explain. We have reached out to Poison, who has not replied as of time of writing.
— Imran Khan, Game Informer

At the same time, 17-year old, Cloud9 streamer Aspen, said during her January 4 stream that Punisher was, in fact, Ellie.

That’s right. Ellie was not real. Punisher said that creating Ellie, trying out for Overwatch Contender and joining Second Wind was a social experiment. While this admission confirms what others already knew, it also brought to the forefront the treatment that female players have to go through: harassment.

Second Wind had absolutely nothing to do with this so-called social experiment.

There are plenty of incredibly skilled, female Overwatch players. However, female Overwatch players—female gamers, in general, have to be better than everyone else around them in order to be taken seriously. Our authenticity is questioned. We have to constantly prove we are good enough. And even though this social experiment was wrong, it certainly showed people’s true colors. Harassment should never be an option to solve a problem. Ever.

There will be guys who will profess to the mountaintops that their distrust of Ellie had nothing to do with gender. So, why is it that it seemed so unfathomable that a female player could be that good? And while there are plenty of female players who could definitely go toe-toe-with the best Overwatch players, there is a reason that there are so few in eSports.