Update: It was later revealed by a Twitch streamer known as Aspen that Ellie was actually an imposter, a friend of hers and top tier player known as Punisher pretending to be Ellie as part of a so-called “social experiment”. The Contenders team Second Wind has denounced the experiment and apologised for not vetting the player properly, stating that the “Ellie account was used for purposes we do not support.”
In Overwatch esports, there is the Overwatch League (which you’ve most likely heard of) and Overwatch Contenders, a minor league or ‘Championship’ in football terms.
Professionals who perform in the Contenders league have the chance to be poached by an Overwatch League team.
Unfortunately, controversy has reared its head in the Contenders league, surrounding the team Second Wind. A player known as Ellie was added to the roster in December. Ellie made waves as North America’s first female Overwatch Contenders player.
That was until she found herself in the middle of a conspiracy surrounding her identity, starting out on Reddit shortly after the announcement. The unsubstantiated theory proposes that Ellie is in fact a male professional Overwatch player who is posing as a female.
This conspiracy snowballed into more allegations, including one banned player calling for Ellie to be doxxed to uncover her identity, and another, ‘Dafran’ of Overwatch League team Atlanta Reign, who claimed on Twitch that someone is playing on the account with Ellie speaking on the mic nearby.
Due to the spiralling controversy, Second Wind announced earlier this week that Ellie “has opted to step down from the team,” due to “unforeseen reactions” with Ellie posting a resolute “sorry” to her Twitter account.
Second Wind owner Justin Hughes later expanded on the decision, noting that “the Overwatch community isn’t ready to view a player as just a player.” This is another depressing reminder of the situation women face in esports, which claims to be a meritocracy but is clearly anything but.