KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — A five-member team named Sphynx gained a lot of attention for more than just their gaming skills at a recent prestigious e-sports competition.

The team, led by Inti International College Subang (Inti) student Shanice Choo, was made up of only women.

Sphynx placed first in the Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) category at the World Electronic Sports Games, South East Asia (WESG SEA): Malaysia Qualifier Finals and finished third in WESG SEA where they represented Malaysia.

It was a commendable feat considering it was the players’ first attempt at an e-sports competition that is said to be the gaming equivalent to the Olympics.

Choo, a Foundation in Arts student at Inti, aims to bring these numbers up one competition at a time with the help of her fellow female gamers.

Her passion for online gaming began when her older brother invited her to play video games with him at home when she was younger.

“I was 14 when I played my first game, BlackShot, and I’ve never stopped playing online games ever since,” said the 18-year-old in a press release from Inti.

She credits gaming for gifting her with a better skill set and helping her to break out of her comfort zone as an introvert.

“I love e-sports because it has moulded me into a better team player, increased my interpersonal skills and allowed me to break out of my introverted shell,” she said.

Her parents and brother have been a source of unwavering support ever since the student decided to embark on a journey of professional gaming.

“I was fortunate enough to have supportive family members who treated my brother and me equally. I did not receive a negative response or backlash from my parents when I expressed potentially wanting to pursue e-sports professionally,” said Choo.

However, responses from other gamers weren’t always as positive as she also had to battle gender stereotypes in the virtual world in addition to in-game foes.

“During my initial years of gaming, I came across a few people who would react to me or treat me differently in games when they find out I am a girl," said the student who hails from Kuala Lumpur.

“However, in my experience, I find the majority of gamers to be welcoming and respectful in spite of my gender."

Malaysia is seeing a steady increase of female gamers breaking into the professional e-sports circuit as Sphynx follows at the heels of other all-women teams in the country.

In May 2017, seven women made headlines as the first all-female Malaysian team to compete professionally in multiplayer first-person shooter game Overwatch.