Contributor: Naomi (Solvanas)
We fucking loved team Siren – I don’t care what anyone else says. But let me tell you my story if you’d be so kind as to read, and see if that changes your perspective.
I started League of Legends in season 2; I was bad, really bad. You don’t understand. If negative bronze elo existed at the time, I would’ve been there. But I picked up the game pretty quickly. Though, the one thing that pissed me off when I played was everyone always over-criticizing me. So I talked right back.
“Fuck you guys. I’m gonna play ranked, and I’m gonna get better.”
I started off around 1400 elo (silver). That’s something right? Following, I played 12 hours a day, pretty much non-stop. I would go to school, then rush home and play league. Hell, I’d skip dinner half of the time just to grind out games. I was fiending for that rank to rub in their faces.
The game that I got 1900 elo (pretty high in season 2)… I was playing in my room on my laptop from Walmart on an e-machine; I don’t even exactly know what that is. Anywho, it was on my lap so much that I had visible burn marks from the overheating. I didn’t have a desk – just a laptop on my legs, mouse on a box, and a fan propped up on a chair blowing on my laptop to cool it off. If I didn’t have it running, my computer would crash.
That game, final baron fight, my laptop finally overheated and I dropped down to 3 frames-per-second. My friend, who was in a skype call with me at the time, could hear my panic. Short version – we got the baron and won the game. I just remembered throwing my laptop off of my legs screaming, “Fuck yeah, I did it bitch!”
“I HAD VISIBLE BURN MARKS FROM THE OVERHEATING”
I was also working part-time then, saved up for a desktop, and after that season I was really able to put the garbage machines behind me.
Start of season 3, Siren was starting to form behind the scenes. I get an add from somebody called ‘a little jenny’; I didn’t know who it was, but she sent me a message asking me if I really was that (relatively) high-elo girl, since I was top 500 at the time. No one was sure that I was a girl, in fact, I was more of an incognito person floating around the sprouting League community.
“Hey, we’re starting to make this all-female team”, she said. “We got huge sponsors behind us, and they want to make this big (ger than us. Heh.). I was so confused, just turned 17, real young, final year of high school. My only direction at the time was university, not professional league or anything close to that. I just loved this game. I’m gonna play it, I’m gonna enjoy it, and it ends at that.
But she was adamant.
“You’ll get paid, we’re getting a gaming house, and we want the best 5 girls right now.” There weren’t a lot of women in the game back then – a few sprinkled in here and there. The ones that streamed were really significant to me: KireiAutumn, Behkuh, and Hafu, especially Hafu. Man she was enviable. I have a lot of respect for her, and she’s who I wanted to be.
When I met her at PAX, we hung out for a whole day. She was without doubt, one of my biggest inspirations to contribute to the growing eSports community. She’s sick. Those were my league idols at the time… Back to the story.
Jenny asked me to send a photo of myself with my name on it, just to prove I was a girl! She starts listing off the perks, and I start thinking to myself “you know what… that would be pretty sweet. I could enjoy my time and fuck around, instead of jumping right into school.”
My dad was really skeptical, but after some cross-communication, we went down to Vegas on their dime to check out the house. We get there at 3 a.m. – 6 a.m. my time, so I’m dead. I’m fresh off the flight, bummed in with sweatpants, no make-up, messily tied up hair. I remember so clearly, walking through that fateful door, and Jenny rushes over screaming with a gigantic hug screaming, “Naomi! I’m just so glad you’re here!”. Everyone’s having a blast, and there’s a camera crew.
What the fuck is this?
I get pushed into a promotional video right away. Nobody told me about this. I look like ass… I didn’t sleep for a week, bags under my eyes, my hair is so greasy, I don’t even think I showered for 2 days – ah the gaming life! I straighten my hair as they’re prepping me to shoot some lines. Coolest thing – these were the same people who produced Jersey Shore, producing a video with me in it! I got to work with some damn cool people; it was an amazing opportunity. The lines were super corny, but I’m glad I got to do something like that in my life.
I just remember this one line at first. It sounded… sexual. I remember reading it, then laughing continuously for 10 minutes. They kept urging me to ‘say it with force.’ So I’m saying it now – “we live together, we play together,” “we live together, we play together.” Non-stop. Different emphasis and tones of voice, and I just couldn’t stop laughing.
The next day though, oh boy. They gave me the classic baited and outsmarted line.
We’re sitting at this table eating breakfast, and the producers ask me what my playstyle is. Man, I dunno. I don’t really make plays. I let people make plays, and then I do my own thing after that. SOMEHOW, that translates to them saying “you’re like a strategist.”
They’re coming up with lines, and sadly land upon ‘I’ll bait you and outsmart you.” As soon as they said that, my eyes were bulging out of my sockets. I kept protesting: “do I really need to say this line? Can I trade with someone else?” No, it was given as my line. I couldn’t handle it. All I could think was “I’m going to be a fucking meme.” That line was a real sweat, especially since they kept asking for more “umph”. What the hell does that even mean?
“I’M GOING TO BE A FUCKING MEME”
Well I got to do a photoshoot, make a video, cool stuff. I was there for the rest of the week, and we just played games all the time. Living room, desktops, all together as friends. We would stay up until 3 in the morning playing League, then wake up at 6 or 7 and resume once again. Girls’ days out were splendid, shopping days too. Everyone was having a blast, eating wings, drinking melting Froyo in the Las Vegas sunshine. I even had the pleasure of attending a Cirque du Soleil performance with my dad.
After that though…
Everyone says “stupid girls, typical drama between them.” It really wasn’t that. It was a light atmosphere with just us. It was bliss.
After the video was released, the pressure was so high that everyone’s attitudes went from ‘top of the world’ to a slow mournful deterioration. Everyone felt shitty, seeing these negative comments about themselves. When you see other girls claiming we set the entire gender 5 years behind, it becomes more than just a slight. They didn’t understand that one girl team did not represent the entire gender. I don’t know how they jumped to that conclusion, but it’s a pretty far stretch.
Everyone was trying to bring you down. There were a few supporters, but so many more calling us an embarrassment.
One sunny spring afternoon I jovially sauntered home from school, turned on my computer, and made myself a cup of tea. Someone tells me to check out reddit… I didn’t even know what the site was at the time. But if you read the reddit threads on our release video, it was a shitfest. Threats all over the place: you guys should kill yourselves, please uninstall, you’re making a mockery out of everybody. As far as I was concerned, we were doing our own thing. It was a cheesy promotional video. Nowhere did it say that we were going to make LCS, and we definitely weren’t shouting “KILL ALL MEN.” That wasn’t what we were going for.
Was our video any different than Riot’s own promotionals? They’re pretty corny. We weren’t the first people to make a corny video, and we aren’t going to be the last. But I think because we are women, and people were not yet prepared, they latched on and lashed out.
I remember one day after the video was released, each of my teammates had over 5000 viewers on stream. We were playing ranked 5’s with a substitute midlaner, and one of my teammates lost it when our substitute died in the opposing jungle. The thing is, we were all feeding. We were getting stomped, completely blasted – against very good players mind you.
“THEY LATCHED ON
AND LASHED OUT”
I’m sitting there. But then something in me snapped – like a light switch flicking on.
“Shut the fuck up. Do you know why we’re losing this game? Not because of one person dying. It’s your fucking attitude!”
The call went so dead that you could hear everyone’s individual breathing. Nothing was said, and that was probably the tipping point for our team. I regret saying that, but I’ve always been a blunt person regardless of the situation. I think I still would’ve said that to somebody today.
After Siren, many of us lost motivation. I still get some shitlords right now when I stream, but it’s mostly just trolling. I honestly think I had the best experience out of any of my teammates. Nobody flamed me too much, and most of the high elo community had my back. I’m not gonna say that I was amazing, but at least they thought I was decent.
People still troll me, and I read their comments and laugh. They were so ridiculous; there’s nothing you can do but laugh at stuff like that. My older brother would argue with me all the time growing up, and this was basically the same thing. We would always go at each other, and at the end of the day we’d laugh it out. It was too stupid to stay serious. We had fun, and I’m really glad I had an older brother inadvertently preparing me for Siren.
I used to stream for 5 viewers, and I remember the first time Yoonie hosted me. I had a double-digit view count for the first time and was absolutely blown away. To think that I would peak at over 5000 someday – simply put, it was unimaginable. That didn’t change the way I streamed though. I just wanted to scratch my balls (figuratively), relax, and play video games in the privacy in my own house. After Siren happened, I kind of enjoyed streaming. It became something for personal enjoyment, done on my own terms.
I can do what I want and just have fun.
I’m onto animation these days though.
When I went to World Finals in Los Angeles 2 years ago, the hype was so crazy – the atmosphere was insane. I remember walking out of there thinking to myself “why am I majoring in English?” That’s what shifted my direction towards video game and concept art. It was really the deciding factor for me, and I’ve been loving it ever since.
It’s funny how this wonderful game has shaped me in dynamic ways so rapidly. Everyone around me now is nice and positive. What a change, but I wouldn’t give up my Siren experience for anyone else’s world.
I don’t dream of being a professional gamer anymore. More importantly, I don’t care how anyone else remembers Team Siren. I’ve learned so much about myself through that experience, and made so many meaningful friendships. I already told you before: I fucking loved it.
No, they can’t take that away from me!