Zombie and The Banshees - Part 1
The Search Begins..
I came across this community when I happened to stumble upon a stream one weekend on Team Liquid. The stream was titled, “The Banshee Tournament”. I tuned in and witnessed an exciting, fun, and wonderful set of matches taking place. By the end, curiosity got the best of me, and I would soon be on a journey that led me to discovering the beautiful community that makes it all possible.
The Banshee Tournament is an event unlike any other. It is one that truly embraces its own community and encourages growth. This is where members come together to give us a wonderful spectacle of matches. The tournament is casted (and partially funded) by none other than Jessica “ZombieGrub” Chernega. The remainder of the funding relies on generous donations.
Jessica “ZombieGrub” Chernega casting WCS picture taken from https://m.twitch.tv/zombiegrub/profile
It has your standard single elimination bracket — with the best of 1 until the round of 32. Followed with the best of 3 leading up to the semifinals. And ends with a best of 5 during the finals.
So what makes this particular tournament special and standout from all other tournaments?
This tournament is open to all women, cis and trans. It also provides a safe haven outside of the tournament; where all female players can go to share a common interest — to play and discuss all things Starcraft. All-female events in the past have included tournaments such as Iron Lady, Ladies of The Swarm, Ladies FTW, Female Gaming Starcraft II etc. But none have reached a caliber in which The Banshees have attained.
Never have I encountered such a wonderful community that was so welcoming. Given that I unintentionally “infiltrated” their community and violated their rules; it being an all female space only, the quick glimpse that I got to view The Banshees interact with one another was unlike anything I have ever seen before.
The Banshees at DHVL 18 alongside Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn in black orange collar shirt
The biggest thing that really stood out to me was the atmosphere and how noticeably different it was from your normal online chat. It is difficult to put into words but from my observation, seeing them interact with one another felt like I have known these strangers for a long time. The closest thing I can compare it to is, when you see your group of friends having fun conversation, actively engaging in friendly banter, and among this group you feel entirely safe and able to freely speak without having to be judged; zero toxicity.
I can not stress enough how wonderful The Banshees are and how incredible they have been. I managed to speak with the individuals behind it all, how they came to playing StarCraft, and how it all came to be.
The Founder: Juliane “Saeria” Schneider
Photo provided by Juliane Schneider
Hailing from Germany and a fan of gaming since childhood is Juliane “Saeria” Schneider. It was her older brother that introduced her to the gaming medium and then, shortly after its release, “Starcraft: Brood War”. She never got into Brood War competitively but instead enjoyed going up against the a.i.
Juliane became more active when Blizzard finally debuted, “Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty” and even more so with the release of, “Starcraft 2: Heart of The Swarm”. After many years of lurking, she created a twitter account to connect with individuals among the community and began going to offline events in Germany. Over the course of attending multiple esports events, one thing was very apparent in which Juliane states:
“I was very lucky to meet very nice people introducing me to more and more people. But girls were always around in very low numbers. A lot of us knew each other, no matter in which country, they were active. It was nice to have other girls around to share rooms with, travel together, or just hang out. To be honest, a room full of boys can be intimidating sometimes, no matter how nice they are.”
After her realization of the female community, ideas began to brew in the back of her mind. While traveling with one of her dear friends to Paris, France, to attend, “Nation Wars V”, conversation began about the low number of girls in the scene and how great it would be if they were more connected with one another; The idea for “The Banshee Project” was born. After Nation Wars ended, Juliane was motivated, took to twitter, and began asking around the community if an all female group for Starcraft would be a good idea?
The poll that started it all
Much to her surprise, she was overwhelmed with positive feedback. Juliane finally had confirmation for her idea; this is something that the women of StarCraft wanted. During and after the poll, replies kept coming in and soon enough she had enough people to form a community. I asked how the name for the group came to be?
“Joking around with names; The Banshees were born. Not only are Banshees female ghosts, but the Banshee is a unit in StarCraft with a female pilot. ‘Engines screaming’ is one of the voice lines of this unit.”
With the positive responses, a name for the group, and the idea coming to full fruition, The Banshees created a Discord group where they can effectively communicate with one another. At first Juliane thought it would be a small group of female players but they underestimated their reach:
“In the beginning we thought, maybe a few girls would find their way to us, playing games together, chatting, just connecting each other in the scene. It grew a lot bigger than I ever imagined. We opened our doors for Cis and trans. Everyone who identifies as a woman was and is still very welcome to join us”
Soon after their announcement, Jessica Chernega (Zombiegrub) texted Juliane about an idea she had for a while, they previously met at Nation Wars, and with The Banshees it would be perfect; Jessica’s idea being an all female StarCraft tournament. With Juliane’s blessing to use the project’s name, “The Banshee Tournament” was born. It was an instant success with members of The Banshee community quickly coming together and investing a lot of time to help Jessica.
The Content: Jasmin “Neridan” Pärkkä
Photo provided by Jasmin Pärkkä
From Finland is Jasmin “Neridan” Pärkkä. Her journey began when she purchased, “Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty”. I asked if she recounts her first time playing?
“First time I played the game, I was spending some time with a friend of mine at his family’s summer cottage. We had taken our laptops and a lot of games with us, you know, the regular summer holiday luggage. One evening I picked up the game out of curiosity, and found myself 6 pooling people all night on the ladder.”
Jasmin would go on to develop a deep appreciation for StarCraft, one that would have her embarking to her very first esports event, “ASUS ROG Summer 2012”. Soon after attending the event, her love for esports would keep growing and Jasmin would continue to do volunteer work throughout the Finnish esports scene.
Flash forward to 2017, Jasmin is now well established among the esports community. Her and Juliane would eventually connect via Twitter over their journey to Paris,France to attend, “Nation Wars V” . Once there the two would properly meet, witness amazing matches, meet pro players, enjoy Paris, and talk about an idea for an all female community; The idea for, “The Banshee Project” . In a short matter of time, she would find herself creating and managing their discord server, twitter account, and content.
A few months later, the first ever Banshee community meetup at, “HomeStory Cup XVII” would take place.
The Banshees from their first meet up at #HSCXVII
In my list of questions, I asked Jasmin what this group meant to her?
“This group means a lot to me. First of all, I’ve always found it difficult to connect with other females due to the lack of shared interests. So, it’s great we have this group where we all share the passion for StarCraft 2, and we have this base to found friendships on. Also, it’s comforting to get to know people who can really understand and relate to different situations you face as a female gamer.”
It means so much to her that she still manages to find time to help The Banshees in between her hectic schedule of classes and working for ENCE as a Content Assistant.
Being a community member since day one, I asked Jasmin what it has been like to see The Banshees grow?
“It has been a very humbling and eye-opening experience. I think none of the members who joined in the start of the community expected us to get such attention and have so many women join us. It makes me really happy to see that they have found our community as something worth-while to engage in.”