Could Japan Bring The First Woman To Worlds?

FENNEL made LJL history this week.

BYBen Mock
2018 Mid-Season Invitational Play-In Day 2

Women are rare in the top divisions of League of Legends esports. Esports should lends itself to gender parity. However, gaming culture and perceived skill differences have often led to the exclusion of women. Maria "Remilia" Creveling, remains the best example of a woman making it to a major league. She briefly played for Renegades during the 2016 Spring split of North America's LCS. While there are many incredibly talented women playing on amateur teams and in regional leagues, it remains to be seen when a woman will be once again given a top-division opportunity.

The lack of gender parity at the top level of the sport means that no woman has ever appeared as a player at the World Championships. The theoretical closest we have come to this milestone is Vaevictis eSports' all-women team in the 2019 LCL season. However, that might all be about to change after history was made this week in Japan.

Shakespeare Makes History

On June 11, Miyu "Shakespeare" Otomo made history as she became the first woman to play in the LJL. Filling in for starting support Ian "Corporal" Pearse, it was on the 20-year-old to help FENNEL start the Summer split with a win. The team's first game was against Crest Gaming Act. CGA hadn't recorded a top four finish since 2020. However, given the league's level of competitiveness, it was not a game to be taken lightly. Shakespeare didn't disappoint, playing dominantly in the 2-0 FENNEL victory. She ended the series with a 3/1/22 stat line after playing Yuumi and Lulu. At the time of writing, she currently holds a league-high KDA of 25. It is believed that she is the first woman to play in a Worlds-eligible league since the aforementioned all-women Vaevictis eSports played in Russia in 2019.

Japan is a one-bid team for the annual World Championships. That bid has more often than not been won by DetonatioN FocusMe. DFM have won all but one split since Spring 2018. However, league parity has steadily increased over the years. Teams such as Sengoku Gaming are now beginning to challenge the dominance of DFM. Heading into Summer, many see FENNEL as a team that can challenge for that top spot. It's unclear whether Shakespeare will be taking to the Rift in FENNEL's Week 2 matchup against Sengoku. However, she deserves the chance to challenge for a starting role or the team's substitute spot if they do make it to Worlds.


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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.