Canadian Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn Wins Olympic-Sponsored Esports Tournament

The first day of events has not even started and Olympic history has already been made by a Canadian…well, sort of.

Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn secured the victory in the PyeongChang Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournament, which was sponsored by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organized as a way to involve younger generations in new competitions revolving around the Olympic spirit.

Though Scarlett’s win may not count as a gold medal in the Winter Olympic standings, her win is historic. The Kingston, Ontario native was the only female to qualify for the event, and has now become the first ever woman to win a major Starcraft II tournament—a game that is eight years old.

“I almost don’t really believe it right now,” Scarlett said in an interview conducted right after the win. “It took me a minute after I won…I said, ‘do I get up and get the trophy now?’”

Scarlett took home a $50,000 prize pool after defeating the heavy favourite and South Korea native Kim “sOs” Yoo. sOs has the most wins of any Starcraft II player ever, and Scarlett actually quit Starcraft II in 2015 to focus on another game before coming back–so no one saw this coming, even in the slightest.

“The Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang demonstration ahead of the Olympic Winter Games was an exciting moment for gamers around the world to see the industry elevated to this global sporting stage,” said John Bonini, VP of the VR, gaming and esports Group at Intel. “Intel is leading the growth of esports, not just with the best gaming products and technology, but also in elevating esports to every global stage, reaching new audiences, and paving the path to the next billion fans.”

The win is historic for a few reasons. Firstly, there are certainly a few Canadians in both Starcraft II and esports as a whole, but they have typically failed to find much success. Secondly, it is extremely rare to find women in esports, but with this win, there have been two major female-fronted achievements in esports over the past week. Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon recently became the first woman in the Overwatch League when she joined the Shanghai Dragons two days ago.

Though wins like this are few and far between in the boys club that esports has become, it’s great to see different fans come together and celebrate a great victory.

The IEM tournament itself was supported by the IOC and acted as an extension of Intel’s World Olympic partner position.