Salome Soe Gschwind Penski aka Soe is a name most Overwatch League fans know and love, but not many know that she had to grind and take risks to get where she is, especially as a woman in esports.
There aren’t too many esports veterans around, considering the industry’s young age and its slow rise in popularity since the days of games like StarCraft and Quake. Soe is one of those veterans. She started working in esports over a decade ago and now has a solid career in the industry with a job on the analyst desk for the Overwatch League, which has started to earn her accolades.
Last year, Soe won Esports Host of the Year, which was awarded by The*gameHERs. The awards recognize amazing gamers who identify as women.
“It’s flattering since our industry is stacked, we have so many wonderful men and women in this space, and being chosen above them is incredibly flattering,” Soe said.
Recently, Soe used her platform to raise over $10,000 for Gamers Outreach, which funds the manufacturing of GO Karts, which are portable video game kiosks for hospitals. These GO Karts are for children and young adults unable to leave their bedsides and feature a wide variety of consoles and games.
She raised the funds via a stream-a-thon which lasted two days with infrequent breaks. She played games such as Overwatch, VALORANT and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
From the start of her career to Overwatch League
At the start of her career, Soe was trying to make it in esports while attending school at the same time.
“Five years being into esports, I didn’t think that this was going anywhere, hence I got a degree at the same time, and I was traveling around and doing all these gigs. I wasn’t really sure if this was ever going to be viable for the first six to eight years,” Soe said.
It wasn’t always easy working in esports. Soe spent most of the first decade of her career wondering if she could make a career in esports.
“It’s been a long grind, and a lot of years where I just wasn’t sure [if I could make a career out of it], but I was just so in love with the [esports] scene, the industry, video games and the idea that I can make this work,” she said. “I was incredibly stubborn and I didn’t want to give up on it, and it paid off.”
Soe has worked on a number of games such as Starcraft II, Dota 2 and Quake as a host and commentator, but recently she has become more well-known as part of the OWL talent on the analyst desk since 2018.
She has served as an interviewer, host and analyst for the league. With so much on-air talent turnover in the past year, Soe is one of the few mainstays on the desk and somebody whom fans have come to see as irreplaceable.
Recently, Mitch “Uber” Leslie has announced that he and Matt “MrX” Morello are returning to the OWL as casters, but no one else has been confirmed. Season 4 starts in less than a month, but no additions or announcements of who is returning to the talent team have been made yet.
What fans might not see when Soe is in front of the camera is just how passionate she is about all aspects of Overwatch, not just the competitive side.
“I love art, and everything to do with art. Seeing those characters and the character design makes me want to be creative. It inspires me. It inspires me to think up stories, it inspires me to draw. I enjoy the whole universe they’ve created,” Soe said.
She had the same to say of almost every Blizzard game ever made. The lore, characters and scenery have inspired Soe to create even more. Her husband encouraged her to share her art with the world, so Soe created an Etsy store called “JustSoeThings” where she sells prints and stickers of her artwork.
It is no surprise that Overwatch characters show up in her artwork.
“It’s set in this beautiful world, which has so much potential,” Soe said. “There’s a lot of very lovable and relatable characters.”
In addition to Overwatch characters, she also creates art about franchises such as Animal Crossing, VALORANT, Spyro the Dragon, Sailor Moon and Pokémon.
“I’ve always been doing artwork, I would love one day to work with a program such as OWL to make a crafting series or something,” Soe said. “Maybe I could do cookie-making videos like the one I did last year or cake making videos. I think that would be cool.
“I love to create, and I try to get better at sharing it. I hope it makes other people do it too. … I hope I can take away the fears of other people who are also not professionally trained.”
Soe was not professionally trained in drawing, so she was fearful of sharing her art with people, but her Etsy shop since its creation has amassed 23 pages of five-star reviews. She makes some stickers of her artwork including her “unicorn with attitude,” and a sticker sheet of her two cats, Nori and Miso.
Some fans wonder whether Soe might release some kind of collaboration with any of the franchises she makes art of, and it’s something she has thought about, but for now, there is no news to report.
Soe did say she was working on a bunch of really exciting stuff, which fans will hear about in the near future.
Lead image credit: Activision Blizzard