games / News

Overwatch Contenders Team Confirms Former Roster Addition ‘Ellie’ Was a False Identity

January 7, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Overwatch Contenders

A player who nearly joined an Overwatch Contenders team has been confirmed as operating underneath a false identity, reportedly as a “social experiment.” Second Wind, a team that operates in the North American Contenders region, released a statement which confirmed that “Ellie,” who was announced as joining the team on December 22nd, was “not who they claimed to be.” A spokesperson for Overwatch subsequently confirmed to ESPN that it has confirmed Ellie was a second account, known as a “smurf” account, run by a veteran player without a previous connection to any Overwatch League or Contenders team.

The spokesperson added that nothing was ever made official regarding the account’s OW Contenders status, noting, “‘Ellie’ was never formally submitted to the active roster of Second Wind and never played in a Contenders match.”

Ellie had garnered a lot of attention when first announced for Second Wind, as they were to be the first female player in Overwatch Contenders. (The Overwatch League has one female player, Shanghai Dragons player Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon.) The Ellie account had become the #4 ranked player on Overwatch’s North American servers and, as Second Wind notes, they had “had just recently lost players for various reasons and we desperately needed to find a substitute…Our team members had played with them in the competitive ladder several times and saw them to be very skilled with a deep hero pool. Due to our need to fill a main position as well, a closing in deadline for roster submissions, and our team having experience with the player, we extended an offer to play on Second Wind as a substitute.”

The statement goes on to say that there were no initial red flags and that, as scrutiny of the account ramped up after the initial announcement, “many questions came up regarding the legitimacy of the player.” The organization attempted to work with Ellie “by prepping them for interviews, streams, and encouraging an environment where they could play with other team members publicly,” but that these plans fell through after the account opted out for “personal reasons,” noting that “doxxing and personal threats” were directed to the account. Second Wind had reached out to Blizzard “early on” to verify the account’s identity, though Ellie stepped down from the team on their own. Blizzard eventually got back to them on the account’s background, after which they made the statement.

Esports journalist Rod “Slasher” Breslau has since reported that the Ellie account belonged to a player who goes by “Punisher” in game. He had allegedly convinced several women to act in the role of “Ellie” via voice communications while he played the game in competitive. Cloud9 streamer Becca “Aspen” Rukavina said in a Twitch stream that the whole thing was an attempt at a “social experiment” attempting to make some point about women in professional gaming, and did not expect it to get out of hand.

Unlike Overwatch League, which is played over LAN in a public venue, Overwatch Contenders is played over the internet and not in person which made Second Wind’s ability to be fully in the know regarding the account more difficult. Unfortunately, the whole thing — while not particularly damaging to Overwatch League or Contenders — is likely to cause additional scrutiny going forward for women attempting to break into eSports, which is often a challenging situation for them for a variety of reasons.

Second Wind’s full statement on the matter can be read at the initial link.