Chinese professional Hearthstone player Xiaomeng "VKLiooon" Li was crowned the Hearthstone Global Finals champion at this weekend’s BlizzCon 2019, becoming the first woman to win a major BlizzCon championship. Hearthstone is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. As of November 2018, Blizzard has reported more than 100 million Hearthstone players.
BlizzCon, as stated on their website, is a place where friendships are forged, heroes come to life, and the most passionate community in the world takes center stage. The weekend is filled with all-around geek fun, which includes competitions in Hearthstone. Of course, the convention is also being overshadowed by the recent controversy stemming from the protests in Hong Kong and Blizzard's harsh response to players who speak out. Thankfully, none of this has detracted from VKLiooon's achievement.
VKLiooon, a Chinese player who qualified for the finals, rose up in the ranks to defeat the best Hearthstone players in the tournament - feat no woman player prior has been able to achieve. After winning the Gold Open Tianjin Master Group season 1 playoffs, the 23-year-old earned her chance to travel to BlizzCon to compete in the Global Finals Championship. She was required to compete in a qualifier to make it in because the Chinese Hearthstone Circuit doesn’t function on the same Grandmaster system that most other regions do. Meaning, she had to qualify through playing open tournaments to make it to the championship.
esports history in the making and an emotional moment: Chinese Hearthstone Grandmasters player VLiooon becomes the first woman to win a major BlizzCon championship and the first woman to win a major HS championship— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) November 2, 2019
it's what dreams are made of pic.twitter.com/zTUXNwH1jW
In the grand finals against Brian “bloodyface” Eason, VKLiooon broke away early and ended her impressive tournament run with a 3-0 victory over the American contender. After receiving her trophy, the announcer asked the question on everyone’s minds, “What is going through your head at this very moment right now?” Filled with emotion as she clutched her well-earned trophy, tears leaked down her face as the audience clapped at her well-fought victory. Unable to speak her mind, though everyone in the room felt the power of her overwhelmed feelings.
VKLiooon goes on to tell a story about how a couple of years ago, a male player told her she was in the wrong queue, saying, “this [competition] isn’t for you,” because she's a girl. When asked what it meant to her to be the first woman to win Hearthstone’s biggest prize, she is quoted as saying, “I want to say for all the girls out there who have a dream for eSports competition, for glory, if you want to go it and you believe in yourself you should just forget your gender and go for it.”
While Blizzcon 2019 might not have had the same huge announcements for Hearthstone as it did for Overwatch or World of Warcraft this weekend, VKLiooon's championship will become a defining moment for years to come. Many fans online applauded VKLiooon on her win and Twitter has exploded with congratulations from around the world on her gaming performance. VKLiooon goes home with both the title of world Grandmasters Champion and $200,000 worth of winnings.
Source: Rod Breslau/Twitter