Liquid Community Spotlight: GirlWonder

Liquid Community Spotlight: GirlWonder

Thanks to the nature of the internet and the gradual globalization of the industry, esports and their fandoms are more diverse than ever nowadays. With so many different paths with which to enter these spaces, the esports fanbase has expanded to include people from all walks of life — and with them, plenty of interesting stories.

That's definitely true for Ash, a huge TL and Counter-Strike fan who also happens to be a mother of two. Despite her fandom, Ash was never much of an FPS person; rather, she was more into MMOs before giving her PC to her kids. Watching Counter-Strike began as a way to bond with her husband, but these days she's definitely the more engaged fan. 

Part of what’s kept her engaged is her fandom — and the community that builds around that. The TL community has helped her learn and understand CS as well as given her friendships that transferred into IRL. This community has meant a lot to Ash, and the dedication of fans like her in the Team Liquid community means a lot to us. We spoke with Ash about how she got into Counter-Strike as a non-FPS person, her love of Team Liquid, and balancing parenting and esports.

So, just to get started, let's do a basic introduction of yourself.

My name is Ashlen. Most people that know me just call me Ash. I enjoy working out – which is probably weird to a lot of people – and running, and reading. I gamed before I gave my kid my computer, so I can't do that anymore, because I don't have a computer. Mostly MMOs – World of WarCraft, I started playing that back in 2007 when Burning Crusade was out – pretty much played it ever since.

How did you get into esports/Counter-Strike and Team Liquid?

I love watching Counter-Strike, but I am not an FPS player. That has never been my forte. I guess I got into watching esports back in 2019. My husband watched Counter-Strike all the time, played Counter-Strike all the time, so I kind of started watching it with him.
Initially, I started watching, because that's who he followed at the time. And then once I started watching more Counter-Strike in different teams, I just started gravitating more towards Team Liquid, and pretty much followed them ever since. I started watching some of the other teams – VALORANT, once we got into the VALORANT scene, a little bit of League of Legends – not too much of that though.

I know you said you started watching CS with your husband because he enjoyed it, but what about it kept you interested, especially since you're not an FPS person?

Yeah, it's probably weird. I actually had somebody this past weekend – we were at a card shop and my husband was wearing the hoodie that I have on right now; he likes to steal my Team Liquid clothes – somebody asked what I followed and I mentioned Counter-Strike, but I don't play it. He was like, “well, that's kind of weird.”
But I guess the fast pace of it, how much mental [work] there is with it – you know, reaction times – my brain just doesn't work like that when I'm physically playing. But it's just exciting to watch and it's just easy to get into, for me, at least. Even when TL's not playing I still enjoy watching it. 

How would you say the learning curve of understanding CS was since you weren't coming to it from playing?

You know, I still probably don't understand a lot of the intricacies and the angles and all of that. But being part of the Team Liquid Discord, there's a Counter-Strike channel. There's all kinds of people constantly talking during matches, even when TL's not playing. Seeing them react, and their interactions, and talking about “oh, why did he do this?” or “that was a really good peek..” you know, that kind of helps me learn as well. Seeing other people get involved and make comments and talk about what was done wrong or what was done right.

What would you say is advice that you have for people who might want to get into watching Counter-Strike, or VALORANT, or just esports in general who maybe feel a little intimidated?

That's an interesting question. I mean, it's not going to be for everybody. We have a friend who’s watched it sometimes when we have it on but he's never gotten into it. Doesn't like playing it, doesn't like watching it. All I can really say is, watch different teams, don't just give it one chance – like, don't just watch one match between two teams. Watch different teams, see how different teams play.
You might not like one team; you might like another team. You might like one particular player on a team, and that's who you start gravitating towards and getting more into. And that's how I was with TL. Like I said, I started watching And then once I started seeing TL's matches, it was like, “okay, I like how these players interact with each other. I enjoy watching them in particular,” and that's kind of how I got into it and started watching it more and more, even when they don't play.

Speaking of different teams and players, what about TL has kept you interested consistently, despite roster changes, region moves, and stuff like that?

I think it's a lot about the organization as a whole. I obviously enjoy all the players that we get, I still follow most of the players even after they leave and go to other teams or get released. The community has a lot to do with it. 
Being in the Discord, I feel like the community as a whole kind of keeps fans here. The way that everybody interacts with each other, even when we're not doing great… you know, we're still supporting each other. So supporting teams, still enjoying watching other teams. Even being a Team Liquid community. Being a part of a group that appreciates the same things helps.

What would you say is your favorite Team Liquid memory?

I'm pretty sure it gets said every time somebody asks this question, but it's gonna be the Grand Slam in 2019. I think that's pretty much everybody's [favorite] memory, at least for Counter-Strike. It's just a record that I don't think anybody's ever going to break.

Are there any particular players that either were on a roster that you're keeping an eye on now, or that are like the we're on a TL roster who looks left that you're still really watching? Or, are there any upcoming TL players that you're really excited about?

I still follow EliGE now that he's with Complexity. So wishing him well, even when he plays us, which is hard to do. Nitr0, I still follow. He's with M80 now and I'll still watch him. I'm super excited that we got cadiaN. I followed him when he was still with Heroic, and was super excited when we ended up getting to sign him. 

Are there any expectations or hopes you have for the current TL roster in their season or year of Counter-Strike?

Anybody that follows knows that we haven't started off that great with the new roster. So I'm hoping that with the time that we had between the last tournament we were in, and the next one that we're going to, we can kind of work out some of the kinks. And we have the potential to be an amazing team with who we have right now, on paper. So I'm looking forward to showing that our new roster can be a force.

Do your kids watch the games with you?

Not really. They have. My youngest sometimes plays Counter-Strike with my husband. But she and my other pretty much have been on a Fortnite kick recently. They've watched some of our streamers before but they don't really watch on TV. 
My youngest thinks that watching the tournaments is more boring than watching streamers. So I tried. And honestly I watch it more than my husband does anymore, and he's the one that got me into it.

Does the cat watch with you?

You know, sometimes he does. He will sit on the end of the couch over there and watch the TV while I'm laying here. I've got a few pictures where he's sitting on the couch with me.

Like with any other fandom or thing you're really passionate about, how do you balance the time with the games and also with parenting and having the rest of your life, working out, all that kind of stuff?

Now it's easier because my kids are old enough that they pretty much fend for themselves. They know how to cook and they can do all the chores and I don't really have to do a whole lot, you know?
When I'm working, it's a little harder to watch and engage as much. I can kind of watch sometimes on, like, a second monitor, but I can't get all loud and screaming when good things happen or when bad things happen. But it's not that hard. I'm able to watch what I want to watch most of the time and enjoy it from my couch.

What would you say that Team Liquid, and being in the community in general, mean to you and your life?

You know, I love it. It's not something that you really think about when you think about esports. I feel like Liquid probably has one of the best communities and is one of the best organizations out there when it comes to fan interactions and supporting the fans and making sure that the community is appreciated for being there. 
You know, you do these little spotlight interviews, and we've got the Discord where we interact with each other. And you have the Liquid Plus platform, which is now part of the new Team Liquid website where just interacting, you get rewards. It's just unique, and meeting new friends and appreciating each other's non-esport related achievements, being able to just talk about life outside of esports together, is just really cool, and something I don't think you can get anywhere else.

Have you met or made friends with any other folks who are also parents and esports fans?

Well, I have met a couple employees there. One of them is a parent. I think he's got two or three kids. He and another employee actually came down to where I live. And we ended up doing a mud obstacle course race together. So that was pretty cool.

Did you have anything else that you wanted to throw out there for the Liquid community?

I would say, don't be afraid to just join the community. Even if you aren't necessarily a Team Liquid fan, even if you don't know anything about Team Liquid, or know much about esports. From what I've experienced, it's an extremely welcoming community, and people are really great at helping each other out and answering people's questions. And I think it's a great place to join to start your esports journey if you're someone who is new to the esports scene.

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Let's go Ash!

You've rooted for us so much, now it's time for us to root for you.