This up and coming NBA 2K star was originally going to make it big in women’s basketball. Instead, she made it in esports.
While most of us think of esports as League of Legends and Counter-Strike, there's actually quite a bit of esports leagues that are actually analogs of traditional sports. Both the NFL and NBA have their own esports leagues based off of their respective sports, although the NBA's is far closer to the real world league.
The National Basketball Association partnered with 2K Games to bring about the NBA 2K League back in February of 2017. Now just about to enter the end of its second season, the league boasts 21 teams that are each matched with a real-life NBA team. And just like real basketball, each team has 5 players controlling one of 5 positions on a digital court.
And like most gaming leagues, those players are predominantly men. When the league began in 2017, every single player drafted was male. But in 2018, one woman was selected to be a part of the Golden State Warriors Gaming Squad. That woman was Chiquita Evans, better known as “chiquitae126” online.
Unlike many players in the league, Chiquita actually got her start in real-life basketball. She was her high school’s basketball star in Louisville, Kentucky, and was on track to go pro at Kentucky State University. Then a knee injury ended her career before it even began.
Rather than give up, she refocused her efforts in a new direction. Whereas before she’d get up early to practice on a real court, now she’d wake up early to practice in a virtual one. Her hard work and dedication eventually gained her a following on Twitch and a place in the second-ever NBA 2K League Draft.
On the Warriors Gaming Squad, Evans plays as their sixth, which is a backup position in case the main squad falls ill. Since gaming is a lot less strenuous than real-life basketball, this means Evans rarely gets to play a game. However, her contributions when she does play are considerable and her fans are always cheering her on. She’s also paid no less than the lead players, so being backup isn’t a financial loss.
Also, Chiquita finds other ways to strut her stuff. At a showcase game in New York last year, Evans debuted with a game-leading 33 points.
Getting to where she is now still required a lot of fortitude. There is still plenty of sexism in gaming that Evans needed to overcome in order to get where she is today, and still far more before the NBA 2K League is even close to reaching gender parity. But Evans is a great start.
(via The Score)