“can I call myself a pro now?”
On Tuesday afternoon, a little known Call of Duty team called Pure N3gs closed out a close match against fellow Australian team Viable, securing themselves a spot in gaming giant Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty World League. Making it into a professional league is normally a fine accomplishment in itself, but this particular win was something unusual. The team included the first—and possibly only woman—to qualify for this year’s CoD World League.
Kayla “Squizzy” Squires’ and her teammates’ (Glodek, H220k, and Tupacah) accomplishment came as a surprise for the wider Call of Duty competitive community, due to the smaller competitive scene in their native Australia. Squizzy is also one of the least visible women in the already small pool of professional players who are ladies in the international Call of Duty competitive scene. She doesn’t stream, she doesn’t post a lot of selfies on social media, and by her own admission, she doesn’t often advertise to opponents that she is a woman. Despite keeping a low profile online, she and her team made a big impression in the Online Qualifying stage for the Call of Duty World League, giving their first three opponents the hot 3-0 before winning their final match 3-2.
Call of Duty as an eSport is currently dominated by North American teams, with a few EU teams managing to keep up with the likes of the big names in the young eSport like Optic Gaming, Faze, or Envy. Teams from outside those two regions have struggled on Call of Duty’s biggest stage, the annual World Championships, with its $3 million dollar prize. So it’s little wonder that fans and players on Twitter and Reddit let out a collective “Who?” when it was announced a woman from Australia had qualified for one of eSports’ biggest leagues.
What is interesting is the overwhelming support she has received online for being the first woman player in the league. Congratulatory tweets rolled in from well-known pros and gaming personalities, and well wishes from the competitive community on Reddit. It looks as though fans of CoD as an eSport are ready to see women on the main stage at competitions playing games, rather than dancing on stage like the cheerleaders at ESWC.
Squizzy is no rookie when it comes to competitive CoD. She is 19 years old, and she began playing at 14. She rocks a VMP in Treyarch’s latest Call of Duty title, Black Ops 3, and she prefers to play the objective role in the game. I had a chance to interview her shortly after her team qualified, and I was keen on finding out how playing in the CoD competitive scene dominated by men has treated her over the years, and her hopes for other women in CoD for the future.
MostlyBiscuit: How did you get into playing Call of Duty?
Squizzy: I was always into shooter games. I used to love Medal of Honor, so when I found out about Call of Duty, I just had to try it, and I loved it!
MostlyBiscuit: What about the game is appealing to you?
Squizzy: It’s so fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping. Also, the graphics are so nice!
MostlyBiscuit: Most casual multiplayer players have probably noticed there is a lot of trash talk in online lobbies. There are plenty of YouTube videos with some strong words at LAN events. Have you encountered any smack talk specifically aimed at you for being a woman?
Squizzy: I have been called a few names, but not many. I have not broadcasted myself as a female, I just want to play the game and be the best at it so that’s what I’ve been focusing on.
MostlyBiscuit: You mentioned you’ve not broadcasted yourself as a woman online. Have you played at a LAN before?
Squizzy: I have never played at LAN as I have never been a part of a team to do so.
MostlyBiscuit: Have there been any times when you felt specific pressure to perform since you’re the only young woman on the team?
Squizzy: No, I have always been very confident in my abilities, but have never had an actual team that has stuck together before now.
MostlyBiscuit: Do your teammates get any comments about playing with a woman?
Squizzy: Yes, I know that they do get called out for teaming with a girl. No one has really taken me seriously before the lovely bunch of guys I have in my team now, and I am very grateful for them.
MostlyBiscuit: Have you ever played on an all-lady CoD team?
Squizzy: No, I have not. The simple reason is I don’t feel that any other females (in Australia) have the drive to play and succeed in competitive CoD like I do.
MostlyBiscuit: Has the attention you have been getting for being the first woman to qualify in the first year of the CWL been surprising?
Squizzy: Yes, I have been so overwhelmed with all the support. It’s been great! I did not expect it to blow up as much as it has!
MostlyBiscuit: Do you see yourself as an ambassador for women in eSports?
Squizzy: I see myself as someone who loves and is passionate about eSports. I will do what I can to help further the scene.
MostlyBiscuit: Do you have advice for other women who are hoping to go pro?
Squizzy: Go hard, keep practicing. If you really want it, one day it will all come full circle.
MostlyBiscuit: Who is the CoD pro who taught you the most about the game (your codfather/codmother)?
Squizzy: I had a few mentors back in PS3/early PS4 days. The two I’d like to thank most are Hastas8 and lil-dunker. They don’t play anymore, but they taught me a lot and I’m very appreciative of that.
MostlyBiscuit: What do you think about all the attention your team is getting right now?
Squizzy: I think it’s really great. Nig shout out to Tupacah, Glodek, and H220k. They’ve been so great through all of this so far, and hopefully we can go further and further with our roster.
MostlyBiscuit: How did this team come together?
Squizzy: We all decided to come together, as we were rejected by other teams that we wanted to play for. We only got together 20 mins before rego closed so we could play for fun! Never thought we would get this far!
MostlyBiscuit: What are your hopes for your team’s future?
Squizzy: I hope we can rep a good organization and become one of the top teams in Australia! Maybe even CoD Champs.
Squizzy and her team are currently looking for an organization to represent them for the Call of Duty World League. The Call of Duty World Championships will take place in fall of 2016.