(LeaveKongAlone. From the left: Kong, Ezz, Hooligan, Magi, Cheolsu)
Many viewers tuned in to Powerleague Season 2 yesterday to watch Leave Kong Alone (LKA) qualify for the semifinals of the tournament. Instrumental to the team’s 4-0 run to the next round was the stellar ranged assassin play of Cheon “Ezz” Young-hyun, the first Korean female to have ever won a match in a top-tier Heroes of the Storm tournament.
Ezz is not the first female to have participated in the Korean scene; that title belongs to Cho “AyaseEli” Ga-bi, who briefly played support for rookie in 2015. However, AyaseEli lost all matches in the only tournament she played in – the 1st Heroes of the Storm Community Open Tournament – and since then has not come back to competitive play, partly due to being exposed to repulsive levels of misogyny from the community. Now known as “Twinkle”, she still plays the game and keeps in touch with her friends in the scene, but has no plans to return.
In the wake of LKA’s success, Ezz agreed to a short chat.
Why have you decided against participating in Superleague 2016 Season 3?
- Ezz: “Everyone on LeaveKongAlone has been on an actual professional team except me. They are all great players who could achieve great things in Superleague if they had a better ranged assassin. I respect my team and do not want to hold them back.”
- LKA captain Son “Kong” Joon-young: “She felt pressured in many ways… I really wish we could play together even in Superleague, but she still is adamant about pulling out.”
How did you feel about the attention that comes from being a female player?
- Ezz: “As most people had extremely negative opinions on just how good a female player would be, I actually was happy to receive the massive attention because I knew I was good enough to prove them all wrong. And I did prove them all wrong. Those who were only talking about my gender are mostly talking about my skill now.”
How much did Kong influence your decision to try out competitive play?
- Ezz: “As you already know, female players in Korea have to endure a lot of misogyny and are stereotyped to hell and back. To be honest, I don’t think I would have tried to join a competitive team if it had not been for [my boyfriend] Kong; he persuaded me to let down my guard and give it a try on a ‘casual’ team like LKA. He was right and I’m very grateful. I also would like to thank my teammates for always treating me just as they treat each other. Playing on LKA is awesome.”
(LeaveKongAlone in the booth. Yawning in the corner seat is Kong.)
What did you think about mYi’s recent launch of an all-female team?
- Ezz: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an all-female Heroes of the Storm team before mYi’s announcement, so it was very interesting news. I always envied how League of Legends has enough female teams to run a regular all-female league. I once tried to compete in a HotS tournament with an all-female roster… it did not go well. I don’t think Korea will ever have a sponsored female HotS team. I envy EU.”
How would you describe your style of play?
- Ezz: “I used to play Jaina a lot back when I first started playing Heroes of the Storm in April 2015; I guess I always preferred heroes that rely on landing abilities for damage, such as mages. My style of play… I’d say that I play really aggressively in teamfights, sometimes too aggressively, even though I play ranged assassin. I always had a bit of an ego… erm… okay, a huge ego, when it comes to games. I hate backing off.”
After watching Ezz carry her team to the semifinals with Li-Ming and Falstad, LKA’s final group stage opponent RoMg decided that both heroes would need to be picked or banned in the first rotation. Their draft approach seemed to have some effect on LKA’s play, so LKA will surely have to bring some new picks next week. Keep an eye out for what Ezz will have prepared, and make sure to follow the official English stream to not miss it!