Rumor: Overwatch pro player Ellie is a "social experiment"

What is the truth regarding Ellie and Second Wind, the Overwatch League Contenders team?


It's pretty early in the year, but let's file this into the box of crazy for 2019. It's only rumor for now, but people close to the situation are claiming that Overwatch professional player "Ellie" was a social experiment gone wrong.

Our story published earlier told of a player for Second Wind, a team in the minor Overwatch League called Contenders, who stepped down after constantly being harassed about her identity. On the team roster, she's listed simply as "Ellie" instead of having a full name like the other players on the roster. Reported on Dexerto, esports insider Rod Breslau claims to have messages that confirm Ellie is a 17-year-old girl with little Overwatch experience.

This story is additionally confusing because, now, everyone will have to wonder how this player ended up on the team's roster with no players and no one on staff knowing. The owner of the team even released a response in defense of Ellie. 

Cloud9 streamer Becca "Aspen" Rukavina, in a live stream that happened today, claims that she knows that Ellie is a social experiment created by gamer Punisher, a top-500 Overwatch player. It's not available on Twitch at this time, but there's an alleged stream where Ellie had Punisher on stream to show that he wasn't, in fact, Ellie. Props to Shacker Chandler55 for the clip.

There's no official update from Punisher at this time. Consider all of this rumor and stay tuned for additional updates.

News Editor

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 4, 2019 3:30 PM

    Charles Singletary Jr posted a new article, Rumor: Overwatch League player Ellie is a "social experiment"

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 3:45 PM

      Wow...Totally busted. WTF happened to Organic Growth. Is Overwatch league hurting that much they have to "fake" controversy for attention?

      • reply
        January 4, 2019 4:34 PM

        Consider all of this rumor and stay tuned for additional updates.

        • reply
          January 4, 2019 4:41 PM

          All it's contenders not OWL, right?

      • reply
        January 4, 2019 4:37 PM

        Sigh... Unconfirmed on your own site and "totally busted". Come on, man.

        • reply
          January 4, 2019 7:33 PM

          Well if the rumor is Comfirmed

          • reply
            January 4, 2019 7:37 PM

            Harf Life 3 Comfirmed!

          • reply
            January 4, 2019 7:37 PM

            A few things:

            1) as other posters have pointed out, it's not OWL

            2) you are frequently leaving comments that appear biased and negative towards a handful of things you cover.

            That's not a claim I make lightly either.

            3) Stop defending the clickbait. It's fine that it's necessary to publish to make money but don't act like it's journalism.

            • reply
              January 4, 2019 7:43 PM

              Regarding #3.

              There is no money being made. Please stop acting like that is what drives us. Been doing this for five years. Not one cent of a profit. We aren’t even running ads right now. Not sure how “clickbait”-motivated we are given where our revenues are coming from.

              • reply
                January 4, 2019 7:52 PM

                Turning a profit or not doesn't change the article's content or quality.

                Congrats on not making money?

                • reply
                  January 4, 2019 7:53 PM

                  You said we published it to make money.

                  • reply
                    January 4, 2019 7:55 PM

                    Growing traffic with content like this is to eventually make money, no?

                    Otherwise are you saying you want to write content like this at a loss? You're choosing to cover spicy Twitch drama and Gamergate adjacent shit and attack Ninja?

                    • reply
                      January 4, 2019 7:59 PM

                      We tagged it rumor. This is a slow news week.

                      I don’t know what you want me to tell you. This article is not what is driving our traffic today. It was a news story that people are talking about, so we joined the conversation.

                      I have fixed the headline to correct the OWL error.

                      I am just tired of this refrain that clickbait is keeping us in business.

                      It’s me. If I give up, this site dies. So please be less of a jerk about it.

                      I am not defending Greg’s terrible posts, btw.

                      • reply
                        January 4, 2019 8:02 PM

                        Why is it terrible?

                        • reply
                          January 4, 2019 8:02 PM

                          You call out an entity that has nothing to do with the news story.

                          • reply
                            January 4, 2019 8:04 PM

                            It said "Overwatch League Pro Player" I got confused. Between OWL and The in game "Overwatch League"

                            • reply
                              January 4, 2019 8:05 PM

                              Yup, we got the headline wrong. I corrected it.

                            • reply
                              January 4, 2019 8:05 PM

                              Why are you attacking OWL though? What did they do to you?

                            • reply
                              January 4, 2019 11:42 PM

                              I think you’re still confused: there is only one Overwatch League and this had nothing to do with it at all.

                              What the public plays competitively is Competitive Overwatch and is a MMR match made ladder.

                              Overwatch League (OWL) is the professional league.

                              Contenders is the official tier 2 minors that feeds into OWL and is a set of regional tournament series.

                      • reply
                        January 4, 2019 8:09 PM

                        It definitely comes across that you feel like you are doing Shackers this enormous favor by paying for the site out of your pocket.

                        That really rubs me the wrong way, personally.

            • reply
              January 4, 2019 8:00 PM

              Sorry for engaging? My bad? I'm Ron Burgundy?

      • reply
        January 4, 2019 4:50 PM

        That was an individual player’s “social experiment”, not OWL. It isn’t even in OWL

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 4:36 PM

      Who are the control groups in these social experiments?

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 4:46 PM

      slasher is pretty much the Wojnarowski for esports, hes as good as confirmed

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 5:39 PM

      Can you stop saying this is an Overwatch League or professional player? Both are flatout wrong. Contenders is not OWL. Contenders is not in OWL. Contenders players are not professional players. The Tier 2 scene and Contenders are the feeders to OWL and how one becomes a professional.

      • reply
        January 4, 2019 7:36 PM

        It's not Overwatch League? Every outlet has reported this and they all say Overwatch League. I'm confused.

        • reply
          January 4, 2019 7:53 PM

          wtf lol

        • reply
          January 4, 2019 11:07 PM

          No, it’s not at all. Apparently 99% of outlets have no idea wtf is going on esports.

          • reply
            January 4, 2019 11:32 PM

            Here’s the run down:

            Overwatch League (OWL) is the franchised salaried sports league which has regional teams and players who earn enough to live comfortably. This is the thing that has hundreds of millions of dollars poured into it with franchises costing purportedly $20 - 40 million a pop. This is equivalent to the MLB, NBA, etc.

            Overwatch Contenders (or just Contenders) is the tier 2 tournament series separated into global regions that develop talent feeding into OWL. It’s home to professional hopefuls and wide variety of teams from sponsored to random players assembling a team (obviously having to still meet the minimum requirements for branding, staff, etc). There’s no $30 million but ins, much less strenuous requirements, and largely very little to no money for players. This is essentially the minors and equivalent to MiLB, NBA G, etc. except even more of a Wild West with far less money involved.

            Contenders is not part of OWL. Contenders is not a capitalized Overwatch League. It is arguably not even a league at all with no regular season or franchises, just per a tournament licenses and series matches.

            • reply
              January 5, 2019 2:17 AM

              The Contenders website says there are three regular seasons a year, followed by a regional playoffs and a $3.2m prize pool per year.

              There's also a two-way in place for Contenders with OWL. They're also both run and controlled by Blizzard.

              I get that they're not OWL, that it's a minors, but it seems like it's in the same family, is it not?

              • reply
                January 5, 2019 4:27 AM

                They don't work the same way: OWL is 4 stages with a stage playoff followed by the playoffs over about 23 weeks, while Contenders is a tournament ending in a 4 team single elimination playoff over 8 weeks 3 times a year for all regions (i.e. each region plays for a fraction of that 8 weeks). Contenders doesn't have a regular league season in the conventional sense with teams playing against each other multiple times a season with full coverage of the match ups per a division: for instance, in the North American region there are 12 teams but they only have 5 matches each, hence each team will have played about half the teams in the division, while in OWL you'll have full coverage and repeat match ups.

                The $3.2 million prize pool is the total pool for all of Contenders spread across regions and placements, so while the total pool is $3.2 million, South America was allocated about $45,000 with money allocated per a map win/loss/draw then separated across all playoff teams. So if you're the top placing team in South America, you'd make something like $10,000 total. North America was allocated something like quadruple that so you'd expect the top team to get about $40,000 in the end. OWL is fully salaried with minimums in addition to a $3.5 million prize pool across 12 teams in the first season. There was $125,000 per a stage playoffs, $1.3 million overall standings, then $1.7 million for the playoffs, so while you could expect the top NA Contenders team to win $40,000 spread across the entire roaster, in OWL the top team is looking at potentially $1.8 million in addition to their salary.

                The scale is very different. The lowest possible total earnings for an OWL player in the inaugural season was about $55,000 while the lowest possible earnings in Contenders is something like $100. If you're a Contenders player, you can make $100 a year to upwards to a mid range OWL salary if an org is looking to recruit you into OWL (i.e. you're definitely OWL material with T2 wins to prove it, but you don't meet the age minimums). The highest total earnings in OWL should have been about $75,000 - $150,000 in prize pool along with about $100,000 - 150,000 salary, so the top end would have been about $175,000 - $300,000.

                • reply
                  January 5, 2019 4:46 AM

                  The other thing is that they're not really setup with the same intentions with the teams: in OWL each team has bought into the league owning a franchising right for a particular region, so the league has a vested interest in making sure that even the last team in the entire league gets screen time and is profitable. Contenders is setup so that they can accommodate many teams, but only rewarding and show casing the best talent (i.e. the entry requirements are low, licenses per a slot are per a season instead of long term franchises, the earning minimums and spread are massively in favor of the winners while there's few matches over many teams). There's a lot of really good arguments that Contenders would work better if it were organized like a league with minimum salaries and such, but I'm guessing that Blizzard has it's hands full enough getting OWL operating properly to worry about putting their minors in order.

                • reply
                  January 5, 2019 4:48 AM

                  Thanks, that's a lot more information than I originally found on the website and the wiki!

                  However I don't think "not professionals" really applies here. This is a bit more than a beer league hockey tournament, has two-way contracts with OWL etc... And to deny the connection to OWL seems disingenuous to me considering they're both owned by the same parent company. I understand these are two separate leagues (Teams plus seasons is a league in my opinion) but it's all Blizzard Overwatch Leagues, just not THE Blizzard Overwatch League.

                  They really should have named that something different.

                  • reply
                    January 5, 2019 5:01 AM

                    If you can't afford to eat at McDonald's and are subsiding off of $1 ramen packs because you make most of your money working part-time at said McDonald's (part-time because you spend most of your time playing Overwatch) while getting paid $100 a year for playing Overwatch, then I think it's fair to say that you are not a professional Overwatch player.

                    They are named something different: Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders.There's no such thing as Overwatch Leagues or Contenders Overwatch League. It's in a better branding situation than other minors such as Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) or say the NBA and NBA G. I don't consider Contenders a league (and officially it isn't one) at all since there's no conventional seasonal structure, no franchising or long term licensing, etc. It's setup like a tournament and run like one.

                    • reply
                      January 5, 2019 5:09 AM

                      I think maybe there's some confusion over the actual Contenders teams? There were 12 OWL teams with 12 Contenders Academy teams (essentially farm teams) in 2018, but Contenders was 85 teams. Some of those remaining 73 teams have orgs supporting them, but there's a lot of orgless teams and many teams which essentially make no money at all.

                    • reply
                      January 5, 2019 5:17 AM

                      Sorry, I think I was being unclear.

                      The word League itself has a meaning is what I'm getting at. Saying there are Overwatch leagues would mean one thing, saying Overwatch League would mean another (or you're crap at capitalization). In your for instance if I said Baseball league, that could apply to a whole heck of a lot of baseball leagues. You wouldn't instantly assume I meant MLB. Whether blizzard wants to say it's an "Official League" or not doesn't really matter, it's run with a league format and operated by Blizzard.

                      As for what is considered professional, players in the Contenders are allowed to accept sponsorship deals (Official rules 8.1) That would be a key difference between professional and amateur. Although, it's kind of shitty that they're not allowed to show their footage. And to further draw connection to professional, the official rules of the Contenders it out as a route to OWL (2.1.8 is agreeing to be part of the OWL selection process, 2.3 is all about two way players). In section 3.10 they talk about contractional agreements, something an amateur player wouldn't really have to deal with. Hell, 8.3 deals with Blizzard using you for promotional material.

                      Anyway, armchair semantics but it does seem like a professional league, just not a well paying one. With a direct connection to OWL. Operated by Blizzard.

                      • reply
                        January 5, 2019 5:26 AM

                        But it's not run with a league format, nor the associated support structures like salaries and such. Sponsorship means pretty much nothing: even less than beer league teams can and do have sponsorship deals, it's just that the scale of say an actual professional league sponsorship and your beer league sponsorship is many orders of magnitude. Hell, I've even had minor sponsorship before in form of free gear, clothing, etc. in exchange for a bit of advertising, but getting the equivalent of a couple hundred bucks does not make me a professional.

                        You need to acknowledge that there's a space between complete hobbyist players and professional players and Contenders lies somewhere in those margins. There's a massive difference between someone making over a quarter million dollars a year for playing a game and someone who's making a couple hundred dollars a year.

                        • reply
                          January 5, 2019 5:34 AM

                          Oh, of course there's a difference between hobbyist and professional. But I don't think there is a magic amount of money that is the difference.

                          Contracts, sponsorship, the path to becoming what is, in your estimation, a professional, the retaining of advertisement rights, the entire structure laid out in the official Contenders rules... Those are the things that mark the difference between a hobbyist and a professional to me. But it's really semantics. If you don't view them as professional, that's fine!

                          Also, again I wasn't talking about league format. Just the word league.

                          • reply
                            January 5, 2019 5:45 AM

                            There is a magic amount though: if you can live off of it. It's part of the literal definition of professional. A professional is someone who earns their living from a particular activity, such as playing Overwatch, and the majority of Contenders players cannot do that. I think it's extremely misleading and disingenuous to claim that someone who's making a quarter million dollars a year and someone who's making a couple hundred dollars a year while doing another job to actually make money are both professionals.

                            There are many amateur tournaments and events that have contractual requirements and clauses pertaining to advertising rights, etc. in both traditional sports and eSports. If your definition of a professional is just signing a contract, then you're redefining what being a professional means and I think the same is true with your usage of league.

                            • reply
                              January 5, 2019 5:52 AM

                              Right on, we'll. Thanks for telling me your thoughts on it!

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 7:41 PM

      Removed League from the headline. Replaced with Pro. I know Tiers and whatnot. I edited this on my phone while flying to CES.

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 7:44 PM


    • reply
      January 4, 2019 9:21 PM

      I'm waiting for the official update from Punisher

Hello, Meet Lola