Sylvia Gathoni‘s passion has turned into a career, allowing her to travel the world. It’s also given her a platform – one she’s using to highlight issues of sexism and racism in e-sports.
By Thuku Kariuki, bird story agency
Sylvia Gathoni, aka QueenArrow, is on a roll. Returning from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, her success in the e-sports arena there is, for this Tekken player, just the latest in a string of recent wins.
In Guadeloupe, the Kenyan placed fifth overall and was the best female player in a field of 15 international players brought to the island for the event.
In June, she was named a Forbes top 30 under 30, putting Kenya on the world gaming map.
QueenArrow started her professional gaming career when she was 18 years old, entering a Mortal Kombat XL tournament and scooping the fourth position. She went on to win the Safaricom Blaze Esport Tour’s Tekken tournament, in 2019.
Today, the 24-year-old travels worldwide.
“I’ve gotten the chance to travel to South Africa, France, Botswana, and Rwanda,” Gathoni said. “For the first two, I went there to compete against the best of the best, and I learned some well-needed lessons that will allow me to advance my career as an e-sports athlete,” she continued, explaining that her career is about far more than gaming.
She is now also a creator and a youth influencer. It’s a responsibility she takes seriously.
“The last two were on business. I was in Botswana for the Forbes Under 30 Summit, and I was in Rwanda on behalf of the Global e-sports Federation for the Generation Connect Youth Summit alongside my mentor Sayo Owolabi,” she said of her recent travels.
It is hardly surprising that Gathoni is good at gaming. She started when she was just three years old and credits the experience with teaching her things she would not have learned in school.
The pro gamer and law graduate from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa was signed by the American e-sports organization UYU as a content creator in 2021.
“I stream on Twitch and occasionally post videos on YouTube. I do it as a way to entertain and also try to improve on my confidence as an individual,” she explained.
Having started early and then risen through the ranks, she understands young people’s challenges in getting to get to the top – and encourages them to start small.
“My message to young people is, just do it. Get started with the resources at hand. Figure out the game you want to play, get a console if you can, or try to get access to local gaming cafés,” she said. “Find a community that will help you get better at your game and join tournaments and use them as learning opportunities to gauge where you are as a player and where to improve,” the pro gamer added.
Tekken 7 is her best fighting game, while Ghost of Tsushima is her best adventure game. Her success has brought recognition from well outside of traditional gaming circles.
“Being on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list is a validation of my e-sports career and the journey thus far. It is essentially Forbes recognizing the value of e-sports as a career and what it can offer young individuals on the African continent,” Gathoni explained.
That recognition has provided her with a platform that she recognizes as being extremely powerful. And there are some key issues she wants to use to address.
“The gaming and e-sports ecosystem must admit that we have diversity, sexism, and toxicity problems. From there, we can begin to create sustainable solutions to said problem,” she pointed out.
While Gathoni considers herself a pro, she continuously works harder to get to the top of the world.
“I consider myself a pro as I put in the concerted work every day to be better than I left off. I take care of myself physically and mentally through workouts and make an effort to eat right. I’m not yet in a place where I can call myself world-class, but I’m getting there,” Gathoni concluded.