Identity is a part of everybody’s life. There are components like race, gender, ethnicity, and more that create who we are as people, but with so many parts to it, there have to be aspects that we consider more important. In my case, I identify most with my ethnicity (Latinx/Ecuadorian), nationality (American), and interest groups (esports). These groups become what I concern myself with and as a young adult, I look for people in media that I can identify with through the identifiers which I hold closest. Nationality is always easy to find as Americans dominate media, however, Latinx people are misrepresented left and right.
It is very common to see Latinx people misrepresented in many forms of media, whether it is the present most prevalent tv show about Latinx people being Narcos or that almost every Latinx person pulled for an interview has very dark skin with a thick accent which is a clear disconnect for many American born Latinx youth like me. Despite being white-passing I still feel a strong connection to my Ecuadorian heritage and wish I could find more people that I can identify to a T with, but those are few and far between, but even harder in the closed circle of media that I concern myself with.
While Latinx people feel under and misrepresented across the board, there are still role-models in many industries such as Guillermo Del Toro (director), Chris Peña (editor for MSNBC), etc. And the most prevalent of them all, professional sports, particularly soccer and baseball where many of the top players are Latinx. However, in my world of media consumption, I’ve come to notice an unreal underrepresentation of Hispanic role-models in esports.
First, we’ll take a look at professional players in the world’s most-watched esport, League of Legends. LoL has its professional leagues divided by region and its North American region having the most effect on me because of my nationality, but the entire region is lacking a Latinx presence. There is only one player (Josedeodo) out of 10 teams of 5 who is Latinx, and he was not a part of the scene until this year when he was imported from the Latin American League. However, it is not only the players, but it’s also the on-air teams. For League of Legends, there is not a single Latinx person as a caster or an analyst which begs the question, why? Why, in the world’s most-watched esport, are there no Latinx faces to look up to?
This problem transcends League of Legends. There is a public list with the earnings of all top esports players which is a clear indication of historical success, and when looking through the top 100 players there are 4 Latinx players staring at number 73. However, those are outliers. Those 4 are part of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team formerly called SK Gaming, but now going by MiBR. This group is the only notable team out of any South American country to win major tournaments in any top esport. This team was an icon for Latinx youth like myself showing the world what South American heritage could bring. They even used this brand to turn their social network into a distinct audience creating one of the loudest and most active followings because they were the only top team for Latin Americans to rally behind. However, that’s where Latinx success in esports seems to stop. Close behind on the list of earnings are two other Brazilian players in the top 200 player earnings that were rotated into the same team as the other 4, but after that, there is not another Latinx player seen in the top 500 earning players until number 453.
One place to look toward is the Valorant Masters Stage Two tournament which is taking place at the end of May. This event is the first international tournament in Valorant history giving teams from South America a chance to become the next SK/MiBR and give the Latinx audience a major victory to rally behind.
Outside of players, there is only one other success story is a cater named Goldenboy. He is a newly successful caster for a game called Overwatch and he is the sole golden role-model for any Latinx kid interested in esports casting. He is the only professional Latinx caster or host in esports outside of Latin American leagues, however, he did what many have not. Goldenboy is among the elite few who have been on ESPN to host an esports event and the first in Overwatch to do so.
While there are a few spectacular role-models here and there across esports, there is still a great disparity between the number of Latinx people and White or Asian people in esports and that needs to change in the coming years as the industry grows, or else it will just be another sector where minorities feel shut out once again.