Gaming culture has been historically dominated by men, with female players generally perceived as playing a marginal role within the marketplace.
But there’s no doubt that this landscape has changed considerably in recent years, with a 2014 study highlighting that 52% of the global gaming audience was actually made up of women.
Interestingly, this trend has not been replicated in the eSports or pro gaming industry, where less than 5% of professional players are thought to be women. However, there are some females blazing a trail for others to follow in this sector, while the number of female pro gamers is sure to increase in the future.
Who are the Stars of Female eSports?
At the heart of this revolution is the gaming space Misscliks, which has been launched by four female gamers who want to support like-minded women with a passion for eSports.
This group also have their own Twitch page, on which individuals can interact and watch aspiring female pro gamers can showcase their skills in real-time.
This, along with emerging pro tournaments such as the Girl Gamer eSports Festival and the Supergirl Gamer Pro event, has created an opportunity for women to make their mark in this space and challenge the existing demographics.
A few females have taken advantage of this, by forging successful careers and emerging as rising stars in the sector. These include
Sasha Hostyn (aka Scarlett)
We start with the highest-earning female eSports star, who’s based in Canada and has accumulated an estimated $200,600 during her career to date.
A professional StarCraft II player, she first joined the gaming scene in 2011 before turning heads the following year when she beat a number of high-ranking performers.
In the subsequent six years, she has taken part in more than 140 tournaments across the globe, and it 2014 she was named one of the 50 most admirable people in the entire gaming industry.
At present, she has around 46,000 followers on the streaming platform Twitch, while she continues to inspire this audience on a regular basis.
Katherine Gunn (aka Mystik)
Next up is one of the longest-serving female eSports stars, who was a pioneer within the space and remains one of the most dominant performers to this day.
Katherine Gunn is a U.S. gamer who first established herself back in 2007, and has managed to accrue an impressive $120,000 during her 11-year career to date.
Regarded as the second highest-earning women in the fast-growing world of eSports, Gunn is a skilled Halo: Reach player who hit the headlines when she landed a $100,000 first prize during series two of the WCG Ultimate Gamer tournament.
She also has a huge social media following, with more than 40,000 subscribers on YouTube and a further 220,000 fans on Twitch.
Ricki Ortiz is another U.S. citizen who has achieved success in the eSports realm, with the veteran competitor having earned more than $80,000 since her debut in the early noughties.
With specialities in cult classic fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom and the Street Fighter franchise, Ricki has participated in more than 60 tournaments to date while she’s also a member of the successful Evil Geniuses team.
There’s no doubt that Ortiz has also inspired a number of modern female eSports stars, many have whom have built on the foundations that she established more than a decade ago.
At present, her Twitch channel HelloKittyRicki has more than 9,600 loyal fans, and her role in ushering the age of female eSports stars should not be underestimated
Marjorie Bartell (aka Kasumi Chan)
Fourth on the list is yet another eSports star who specialises in fighting games, and one goes by the fascinating moniker Kasumi Chan.
Based in the U.S. and with career earnings of around $55,000, Bartell started her career back in 2006 and actually won the majority of her accrued income in a single tournament.
Despite her recent inactivity and the fact that she only has a minimal presence of Twitch and social media, she remains extremely well-known in the industry and is certainly a source of inspiration for many of the current generation of rising female eSports stars.
Sarah Harrison (aka Sarah Lou)
Not only is Sarah Harrison the fifth highest-earning female eSports star in the world, but she also completes a clean sweep for North America in our list.
Born and bred in the U.S., Sarah Lou has earned an estimated $50,000 during her 10 year career, with this haul won during the 2008 Championship Gaming Series Season.
Harrison’s sister is also an avid and relatively successful gamer, with these two often referred to as the Serena and Venus Williams of the gaming world.
While she’s failed to add to her earnings since her outstanding debut win in 2008, she remains active in the sport and is a serious competitor who should not be underestimated.