Woman gamer quits team, citing harassment

Non-gamers may not know it but watching e-sports like Overwatch is a huge business.
Non-gamers may not know it but watching e-sports like Overwatch is a huge business.

A woman Overwatch Contenders player has stepped down from a North American team just weeks after signing, following harassment and doxxing threats from some members of the game's community.

Ellie first signed to the Second Wind team of aspiring pro-players on December 21, 2018, according to an announcement on the team's official Twitter account.

"We're happy to announce @ellie_ow will be the newest addition to our roster for this season of Contenders!" reads the tweet.

One day later, Ellie tweeted screenshots of a Discord chat where one user suggests doxxing her - or revealing personal information including an address and phone number which is often used for harassment.

"It's doxxing time," reads the chat message, "not for malicious intent[. J]ust to figure s*** out."

Ellie first became a target for commenters following her quick rise to a top 10 rank position for damage per second in the game.

Suspicious users pointed to her account's single bronze star to suggest the account holder is smurfing (using an account with a lower ranking than her skill level would dictate) or using a boosted account.

Others have noted that Ellie is the only player on the Second Wind player roster to not have her legal name listed on the official Overwatch Contenders website, leading some to believe she is being dishonest about her identity.

The news of her departure was announced in a statement on the official Second Wind Twitter account.

"Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen reactions, Ellie has opted to step down from the team," the tweet reads. "We hope you continue to support her in her ventures in 'Overwatch' as we will."

Second Wind team owner Justin Hughes also made his thoughts known over Twitter.

While Hughes offers no specific account for what led to Ellie's departure, he says that threats from some in the Overwatch community played a role.

"When we brought her onto the team, people acted like we had brought on a symbol of empowerment," writes Hughes.

"I get that people meant well, but on one side, we had people questioning her legitimacy, issuing threats, etc. while on the other hand, we had people acting like they had found their Messiah.

"Between needing a player to live up to huge expectations and having to question their own safety, it seems that the OW community isn't ready to just view a player as just a player.

"We wanted a player, but it seemed like the public wanted something else. Sorry about my pronoun usage. However, the message remains the same."

Variety reached out to Ellie and Second Wind for comment.

Australian Associated Press