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Hearthstone Player Li Xiaomeng Becomes First Female BlizzCon Finals Winner

Following a 3-0 victory over U.S. player Brian "bloodyface" Eason this past weekend, Chinese Hearthstone player Li "VKLiooon" Xiaomeng claimed the top spot in the Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals. By winning the tournament, Li made history, becoming the first woman to win both a Hearthstone Grandmasters event and a BlizzCon final across the developer's full catalog of games.

Li addressed the cheering BlizzCon 2019 crowd in the wake of her momentous victory, sharing an all too common story in the gaming industry. While waiting in line to sign up for a Hearthstone event two years prior, a male player tried to discourage her, stating that women did not belong in the competition. "It's not for you," he said. Despite the ongoing sexism she's faced, Li kept her eye on the prize.

"And now I'm here, with all the support from the fans," Li said. "I want to say to all the girls out there who have a dream for esports—for competition, for glory—if you want to do it and you believe in yourself, you should forget your gender and go for it."

Li became the first woman to qualify for the Hearthstone Global Finals when she beat out the competition in the Gold Open Tianjin Master Group Season 1 Playoffs. She claimed 10 successive tournament victories in the lead-up to the finals. Her streak remained unbroken throughout BlizzCon before she completed a clean sweep of the deciding series.

Born in a small town in China's Xinjiang region, Li entered the Hearthstone scene while studying at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law. Li confessed that she did not enjoy pursuing law and decided to give herself a year to see if she could make it as a professional Hearthstone player. To keep her skills sharp, Li practices about five hours a day and dedicates additional time to watching professional tournaments with her boyfriend, Syf, a pro-Hearthstone player for Team Invictus Gaming.

"I will keep participating in all kind of tournaments around the world and hopefully I can explore the possibility of other careers like casting," Li said.