“can I call myself a pro now?”
On Tuesday afternoon, a little known Call of Duty team called Pure N3gs closed out a close match against fellow Australian team Viable, securing themselves a spot in gaming giant Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty World League. Making it into a professional league is normally a fine accomplishment in itself, but this particular win was something unusual. The team included the first—and possibly only woman—to qualify for this year’s CoD World League.
Kayla “Squizzy” Squires’ and her teammates’ (Glodek, H220k, and Tupacah) accomplishment came as a surprise for the wider Call of Duty competitive community, due to the smaller competitive scene in their native Australia. Squizzy is also one of the least visible women in the already small pool of professional players who are ladies in the international Call of Duty competitive scene. She doesn’t stream, she doesn’t post a lot of selfies on social media, and by her own admission, she doesn’t often advertise to opponents that she is a woman. Despite keeping a low profile online, she and her team made a big impression in the Online Qualifying stage for the Call of Duty World League, giving their first three opponents the hot 3-0 before winning their final match 3-2.
Call of Duty as an eSport is currently dominated by North American teams, with a few EU teams managing to keep up with the likes of the big names in the young eSport like Optic Gaming, Faze, or Envy. Teams from outside those two regions have struggled on Call of Duty’s biggest stage, the annual World Championships, with its $3 million dollar prize. So it’s little wonder that fans and players on Twitter and Reddit let out a collective “Who?” when it was announced a woman from Australia had qualified for one of eSports’ biggest leagues.
What is interesting is the overwhelming support she has received online for being the first woman player in the league. Congratulatory tweets rolled in from well-known pros and gaming personalities, and well wishes from the competitive community on Reddit. It looks as though fans of CoD as an eSport are ready to see women on the main stage at competitions playing games, rather than dancing on stage like the cheerleaders at ESWC.