Hearthstone Pro BaiZe Wants Fans To Focus On More Than Her Gender

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The Hearthstone Championship Tour Summer Championship has wrapped up, with Blizzard’s top players duking it out for a chance at a spot at the World Championship. Stressful situations are the norm, with single card draws and unpredictable RNG determining who advances. Some players crack under the pressure, unable to perform before a full audience of viewers, cameras and pros watching their every move at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, Calif., not to mention the tens of thousands more watching on Twitch. Others thrive under these conditions, seemingly invigorated by having the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Wang 'BaiZe' XinYu, one of the HCT contenders, had to deal with another layer of pressure: being the only woman in the competition. Though she went 0-2 in the overall tournament, she performed tremendously, barely losing to World Champion Pavel in an intense match that ended 3-2. Player.One spoke to the Chinese pro (through a translator) about preparing for matches, being one of the few pro women in esports and more.

BaiZe’s name comes from the Chinese mythological creature who represents intelligence and wisdom, attributes she hopes carry over to her Hearthstone play. Her first taste of international competition came in early 2017, when she managed to secure a top eight finish at the Hearthstone Wild Open and earned an invite to Burbank. She managed to qualify for the HCT Summer Championship with enough points by participating in China Premier events, which she believes were where she truly broke out onto the scene.

“The biggest difference in Chinese and Western tournaments are the length. Chinese tournaments go on for weeks, while the HCT is only three days,” BaiZe said. “I also have to wake up really early, since call time is at 6:30 a.m.”

In China, BaiZe is a Hearthstone caster, which she still enjoys more than being a pro player. “I feel I’m past my prime when it comes to playing,” she said. “There’s less pressure when being a caster and you can enjoy Hearthstone more.”

Baize is soft-spoken and shy in conversation, but has a laser-tight focus when she plays. Her decks are out of the ordinary, bringing a peculiar Evolve Shaman list with Cult Masters and Masters Of Evolutions alongside the only copy of Prince Taldaram at the tournament. Though the results may have not been what she was expecting, she still believes that the deck is extremely strong.

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BaiZe and Pavel after their nail-biter of a series. Photo: Blizzard

It’s impossible to talk with BaiZe without her gender entering the conversation. Esports tournaments are almost always heavily male-dominated, with few women ever making it into the pro leagues. BaiZe believes the focus shouldn’t be on her gender, but rather her gameplay. “They need stories about each and every player, but when it comes to performance in the game, to focus too much on my gender is to ignore what I’m doing as a Hearthstone pro player and how well I play,” she says.

Asking one person to represent their entire sex is a bit ridiculous, but I was curious how BaiZe felt women could be better represented in esports. “One way women could have a larger place in the esports world is to have tournaments solely for women, but that has its own problems,” she said. “It won’t be healthy in the long run, because if you’re trying to make a competitive scene you’re going to need the best players, which include male gamers,” she answered.

BaiZe only asked one thing of me at the end of our interview, to plug her Weibo account, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Be sure to check back in with Player.One for more Hearthstone coverage.

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