With female gamers gaining both recognition and skill, they are slowly but yet steadily breaking the barrier set by the industry of male gamers and female gamers. One of the leagues that have seen the biggest development of female professional gamers is the CS:GO league.
Having crossed paths with Emmalee ‘EMUHLEET’ Garrido, leader of Team Dignitas’ CS:GO team, we got to sit down with her to gain a deeper insight into her journey as a female professional player.
Let’s dive right into what EMUHLEET has to say about her success, nursing, and future goals.
¤ It is very nice to meet you. Could you briefly introduce yourself?
Yeah, sure. My name is Emmalee Garrido. My in-game name is ‘EMUHLEET’. I work as a nurse in the morning at an alcohol and detox center. At night time, I am a full-time professional gamer and in-game leader for Team Dignitas’ CS:GO female team.
¤ Could you tell us how you met with Team Dignitas and also how you became a professional gamer?
I have been playing Counter-Strike for over 15 years. When CS:GO came out, I found out about an event held in Paris, France. So, I had to make an all female team. We have been together ever since 2014. We got second place at our very first event. Because of this, I knew we were going to be a good team. We started with literally nothing. No sponsors and no financial support. Team Dignitas saw that we were a good team. At an upcoming event at Katowice Intel Extreme Masters, Dignitas said they wanted to pick us up for the event.
In the IEM Katowice, we also got second place. I felt like we proved ourselves. Our story is really nice because we started from nothing. I was ironing our names on the back of our jerseys. Now, we have all these amazing sponsors like Mountain Dew, Buffalo Wild Wings, and HyperX. It kind of just shows that hard work does pay off.
¤ As you said, you have been gaming and been apart of the industry for over 15 years. During your journey, what were some of the moments when you thought ‘damn it is good to be a pro’?
(Laughs). I would say competing at LAN events. I was always competitive. I did dance, Volleyball, and Soccer. When I competed at my very first LAN event, I got this adrenaline rush. This amazing feeling inside that I never got competing in traditional sports. The turning moment for me was when it was all on me to win a round. When I did win the round and my team cheered me on, it was the best feeling in the world. This was when I knew, gaming was something I wanted to do for a very long time.
¤ So you have come to this event called ‘Girls in Gaming’. What are some of the topics/issues you look forward to listening to? In addition, what are some of the topics/issues you are passionate about in regards to ‘Girls in Gaming’?
In relation to ‘Girls in Gaming’, I want to really share with people my story. I used to be a closet gamer. I never told anyone I played video games. My best friend since 5 years old didn’t know I played until we were 23 years old (laughs). I want girls to know that it is okay to say that you are a female gamer. It is okay to compete. My team is being a role model to kind of show that it doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl. If you work hard and practice hard, you can compete in any tournament against guys. And this is exactly what we are doing.
¤ Do you have a female role model you look up to in the industry? If so, what made you look up to that role model?
Unfortunately growing up, I never really had a female role model. Like I said before, there were hardly any female gamers. Instead, I looked at male figures and said: “I want to be like them”. I also wanted to show that girls could do it too. Females were afraid to do it back then. Because I never had a female role model, I hope that I could be that person. Someone that people could relate to. If you’re working a full-time job, you can still game. If you’re afraid to say your name, it is okay. Female gamers are a cool thing now.
¤ Which CS:GO player is your favorite?
Well, I can’t say my husband (laughs). I really admire FalleN. He is a famous Brazilian player from SK Gaming. He is also an AWPer and an in-game leader. FalleN’s story is similar to mine. They started from nothing and had to fundraise money in order to come to a North American event. I really admire his hard work. I watch his demos. I also admire his passion, and it is something that I can relate to.
¤ You have a full-time nurse job in the morning and a professional gaming career during the night. How do you balance your life between these two very demanding jobs?
It is extremely difficult. I work in LA, so I work 2 hours away from my home. My schedule is, 4 am I get up and I start my work from 6 am to 2 pm. A 2-hour drive home. After I get home, I practice until 10 pm. On top of all this, since I am the leader, I have to do extra work. I need to watch demos, and I need to look at strategies. It is very tiring. Although I get little to no sleep, I am the leader. I want to show and set a good goal for the rest of my team. I am very passionate, so I am actually not exhausted at all. It is something I love to do.
¤ What is your go-to goal to achieve as a professional gamer?
In regards to my team, we are already kind of dominating the female scene. We got first place at IEM Katowice a few months ago. Since we are showing constant good results, we want to start winning the mixed events we participate in. Climbing up to one of the top 3 teams. I want us to be the all-female team that can compete with top male teams.
¤ Could you briefly tell us how you met your husband?
(Laughs) Long story short, we met at a LAN tournament. I actually played against him. Apparently, he told his friends that “I’m going to marry that girl one day” and I was like “Yeah right” (laughs). When my very first international event was coming up, he said: “Hey, I want to coach you guys.”. I dismissed him at first, but he spent thousands of his own dollars to get there and coach for us. That just really proved that he really did love me. We fell in love. We actually got married on a Counter-Strike map called de_inferno. My bridesmaids were my teammates, and our wedding was Counter-Strike themed because that is how we met.
¤ Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your supporters such as your husband?
My husband is actually my coach, so I want to say thank you for never giving up on our team. Thank you for working with us for nothing in the first 2 years. Thanks to our fans, and I wish our fans can also reach their goals no matter what it is. I hope we can show them that if you work hard and are dedicated to humility, you will reach your goal.
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