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Jaime "Karma" Bickford was the only woman in the Rocket League Championship Series — that’s right, the only woman out of over 100 pro Rocket League players.

Now, under G2 Luna, Karma is hoping to encourage and inspire other female Rocket League players — and female gamers in general — to step out of their comfort zone and compete with other women with the hopes of ultimately getting female gamers into the RLCS and other major tournament series.

It’s no secret that women have had a hard time competing in the esports scene due to a lot of setbacks that non-female players don’t face, including toxic behavior and harassment when they attempt to communicate in ranked modes. A recent study found that 47 percent of female gamers “suffered abuse” while gaming. To combat this and make it easier to enter the esports scene, a lot of competitive games have started including all-female tournament series, including the VALORANT Game Changers.

G2 Luna KIAA

G2 Luna kiaa

G2 Luna pro Carlee "kiaa" Eichhorst said: “I feel a lot more comfortable [competing in women’s leagues]. I would have never done this unless I felt I had a safe space where I don’t have to worry about the toxicity that comes with a space that has males in it. It’s unfortunate that that happens.”

Rocket League is the next esport to get this inclusivity treatment in the form of the Women’s Car Ball, founded by fellow G2 Luna pro Gio "Avenger" Sy. The WCB is meant to uplift non-male players that want to compete in a safe space where they can compete at a top level without any setbacks or concerns. The goal? Get more viewership on women’s esports, get more sponsors to believe in women’s esports, and make people take women more seriously in esports in general, ultimately getting women to compete in the main tournaments.

But Karma thinks it’s also on female gamers too. She explained: “The women have to be open to competing and taking it seriously, similar to the male league. They need to uphold those values, bring that element of competition, and take it seriously — not just play with your friends and have a good time. [...] Anything that puts you on stage or in a high-level situation… That’s what women’s events really need — a little push to show the level of competition.”

This driven take on women in esports is not shocking when you learn more about Karma’s background. While she grew up playing video games, she was also a very competitive basketball player that once had a dream of being the “first woman to compete in the NBA.” Unfortunately, she ended up getting injured in college and her sports career ended. To channel her competitive nature, Karma turned to gaming, becoming a semi-pro Call of Duty player earlier in her career.

Avenger with controller

G2 Luna Avenger

Avenger is another esports pro with a background in traditional sports. She started playing hockey when she was eight and competed until college when she ended up with a concussion. To fulfill her need to compete, Avenger turned to Rocket League when a friend told her it was “similar to ice hockey.” She became so inspired, Avenger founded the Women’s Car Ball League in hopes of empowering other women to feel empowered and compete without fear.

The women’s scene in Rocket League is still new, however. There’s a long way to go, although getting big orgs like G2 involved has been a huge boost. Karma is hoping that Rocket League will soon follow the footsteps of other esports scenes, like VALORANT and League of Legends, but also traditional sports. She pointed out that women’s basketball has heavily increased in popularity this year, something she wished she saw as a kid but still found heartwarming now.

Progress is happening. It’s slow, but it’s happening.

While Karma never got to realize her pro basketball dreams, she recently found herself competing in the Olympics. The three women who make up G2 Luna were invited to compete in Olympics Esports Week, a showcase of some popular esports titles to a more mainstream audience.

Karma with controller

G2 Luna Karma

“It was unreal. I always wanted to play in the Olympics as a kid,” she said. “The Olympics were always something in my mind but not something I considered realistic. It’s the rings. It’s the Olympics. I didn’t really envision this ever being a reality. It kinda hit me when we were walking out on stage with the huge Olympic rings above you.”

Avenger had a similar experience as a former sports athlete. She recalled: “Coming from a competitive background with traditional sports, it ignited an old part of me. I feel I gave up on myself when I got injured, accepting that I can’t play ice hockey. Going to this event motivated me once again to continue doing my best. This experience was one of the most memorable of my life. Do what you love to do.”

Now back from this life-changing experience, the G2 Luna trio is more motivated than ever to expand the female Rocket League scene. And while the all-female tournaments are a great start, they want to see women competing with men in the main tournaments.

This is a sentiment shared by other prominent female pros in other scenes, including Stephanie "missharvey" Harvey, a former Counter-Strike pro. She told me in past interviews that all-female tournaments are a great start but that the ultimate goal is to have women comfortable enough and supported enough to compete in the main tournaments. This starts with providing non-male players with resources to catch up to male counterparts who didn’t have as many initial challenges.

The Women’s Car Ball League is a great way to showcase the best female Rocket League players in the world. But that’s not enough for competitive pros like kiaa, Karma, and Avenger. No. They want women to be seen as equals to men, both in skill level and in how worthy they are of fanfare and sponsors.

But they’ll need more women behind them. As the Rocket League scene continues to grow, expect to see more women looking to join Karma in the RLCS.

“I am the only woman to compete in the RLCS — and that should change,” she said.