Grills Gaming Dota 2: All-Women’s Team from Southeast Asia

In the male-dominated world of esports, one all-women team is smashing through barriers and racking up major wins –... Stalingrad | 13. April 2024

In the male-dominated world of esports, one all-women team is smashing through barriers and racking up major wins – meet Grills Gaming, the Dota 2 squad from Southeast Asia that’s taking names. This strong female pack just won gold at the 2023 Global Esports Games and the 2022 Commonwealth Esports Championships.

Dota 2 is an intense multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game where 2 teams of 5 players compete to defeat the enemy base structure the Ancient. It involves intense strategic planning, lightning-fast reflexes, and mental toughness to succeed.

Rising From Humble Beginnings

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Grills Gaming saw a significant makeover in 2022 after being established last 2016 by Tiffani “Oling” Lim, Stephanie “auroraa” Lim, and Bette “iStarx” Chia. Tiffani switched to team management when she was given the chance to join significant women’s esports competitions. She brought on new players like Melissa “Lynnie” Lim, Tiffany “Hishiko” Teoh, Adeline “velnaoh” Foki, and Vanessa “Butterfly” Hii.

The Talented Roster

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The new Grills Gaming roster was effective right away. The team won the Female SEA League Open and finished second at the 2022 Global Esports Games in Istanbul.

From there, Grills Gaming kept racking up trophies at major all-women Dota 2 events like the Flight of the Valkyries Tournament, LuponWXC Female League Seasons 2-4, Female SEA League Seasons 4-6, and the VPGame Female Tournament. Not content with just dominating the women’s circuit, they’ve also held their own against male competitors in open tournaments.

Crowning Achievement

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The team’s incredible 2023 run culminated with that gold medal performance at the Global Esports Games in Saudi Arabia, where they toppled teams from Thailand, Argentina, and Peru. As the Malaysian national anthem played while they were presented on the championship stage, the magnitude of their achievement didn’t immediately sink in for players like Melissa. “When we won, we were numb with shock,” she recalled. “Even as ‘Negaraku’ played on stage, I couldn’t feel anything at the time.”

Overcoming Toxicity

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Part of what makes Grills Gaming’s story so inspiring is the way they’ve overcome the toxicity and harassment that plagues female gamers. The team originally embraced an ironic name poking fun at the meme-culture tendency for male players to react like they’d spotted a “rare species” whenever they encounter women online.

“As female players, we’ve all experienced some degree of sexual harassment and verbal abuse,” said Tiffani. “Women often endure more scrutiny than male counterparts, facing judgment for gameplay, appearance, and anything else that can be used as ammunition.”  

To avoid harassment, Grills Gaming sometimes uses anonymous alternate names in co-ed tournaments to conceal their female identities. Melissa has stopped using in-game voice chat functions entirely to avoid hearing vile insults after her voice reveals she’s a woman. “I wish there were more safe spaces for girls to play in, regardless of the game,” she said.

Rising Tide For Women Gamers

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While it has its share of struggles, Grills Gaming’s success is a testament to the rise of women in Gaming. According to 2023 data from Niko Partners, more than half the Southeast Asian player base are female gamers. And while most professional Esports prizes are men’s events, having major events like the Commonwealth Games as well the Global Esports Games hosting all-women tournaments is a huge step in the right direction.

This Dota 2 team is truly breaking new ground and inspiring future generations of girl gamers. From their humble beginnings as a bootstrapped passion project to standing on international championship stages, Grills Gaming proves that with dedication, talent, and an indomitable spirit, women can conquer anything – even the most intense esports arenas.