Xiaomeng "VKLiooon" Li made history Saturday night as the first woman to win a Hearthstone Grandmaster's global final esports tournament and a BlizzCon tournament, a landmark moment in esports.
Following a 3-0 victory over her finals opponent in the Hearthstone Global Finals, Li, who finished 4-0 in the weekend tournament, spoke to those who may follow in her footsteps.
"I want to say to all the girls out there that have a dream for esports competition: If you want to do it and believe in yourself, you should just forget your gender and go for it," Li, 23, said after the match.
Li said that two years ago while waiting in the backup sign-up line for a tournament, a man told her women shouldn't be there, that it's, "not for you." Now, standing in front of thousands of screaming fans, things are quite different.
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"And now today, I'm here with all the support from the fans," she said as cheers erupted throughout Hall B of the Anaheim Convention Center, the home for the tournament.
Born in a small town in China's Northwest Xinjiang province, Li got a taste for Hearthstone in college, while studying at Southwest University of Political Science and Law. In the news conference after her win, Li said she didn't enjoy studying law and gave herself a year to see if playing Hearthstone professionally could work. Clearly, it has.
Li qualified for the Hearthstone Global Finals by winning China's Gold Open Tianjin Master Group Season 1, and was also the first woman to do so.
"It never occurred to me I could achieve this far," Li said while holding back tears after the championship match. "I want to thank everyone that's practiced with me and has been supporting me even if they don't play Hearthstone."