Two years ago, self-proclaimed MMO and Nintendo enthusiast Sonia had never played a shooting game. Now she owns and manages her own Counterstrike Global Offensive (CSGO)- centred eSports organisation, and is captain of the Ravens all-female CSGO team. So how did Sonia make the transition from couch console gamer to founder of one of the now dominant forces in the women’s CSGO competitive circuit? Curious, I had a chat with Sonia to find out.

“Two years ago my partner bought me CSGO. I had never played a shooting game before, but I was just blown away by this game,” Sonia explains. “It was all so new to me. I was just playing against bots in Death Match, and having so much fun.” She quickly took her new-found passion to Twitch and began streaming the game up to 8 hours a day on a regular basis. Naturally, she became quite skilled, quite quickly.

However, Sonia soon found that if she were going to continue improving as a CSGO player, she would need a consistent team (“a core 5”, as she puts it) to practice with. “Around June last year, I was speaking to a girl that I played with a lot, and we decided to make a team. We started trialling players,” says Sonia. “At this point, the female scene wasn’t big- there were no tournaments like there are now. So putting together a team was partly in order to improve at the game, but also partly to connect with more female players.”

Once the CSGO roster had been determined, and the team were performing well, finding an organisation to partner with was the natural progression. But, Sonia was hesitant. “Many organisations wanted to pick us up, but we decided to keep our options open,” she explains. “We see a lot of big organisations pick up female teams without any credit to their name. We didn’t want to be a token team. If we were to get picked up by an organisation, we would want it to be because we worked for it and because we have our skill and achievements backing us up.”

As the only team with no affiliation to an organisation, and having only practised together for two weeks, the Ravens were the underdogs at their first official competitive tournament (the first ever Women’s Professional Gaming Invite, or WPGI). They were competing against teams like Immunity and Dark Sided, both of whom had rosters that had been competing together for over a year.

Defying everyone’s expectations (except their own), the Ravens emerged as a force to be reckoned with and qualified for the semi-finals. Sonia was quick to recognise the team’s potential.

“We were a new team, and yet we were challenging teams that had been together for over a year. So I thought, imagine what we could accomplish with more time,” she explains. “At that point, I made the decision to become a solo brand. Why would we want to be a token female team in an organisation that doesn’t care about us? We were all friends, and the girls trust me and know that I have their best interests at heart. It made sense to start our own organisation.”

From there, the team have spread their wings and taken flight. Backed by Sonia’s connections and the team’s tournament pedigree, Ravens secured sponsorship this year from HyperX. And on January 22nd, the team- comprised of Sonia “ZS Sonia”, Jess “ARTeMis”, Connie “Konii”, NatarshaAU, Yuka “Siiryn” and Chloe “Mimi” (the substitute)- began their latest WPGI campaign.

After dominating Incept, Corvidae, Mythix, and their arch-nemesis from last season Dark Sided, Ravens head into the semi-finals alongside their only loss in the tournament, Athletico. Sonia is confident that Ravens can take the win. “We can beat Athletico. During the tournament, we only narrowly lost to them, and Connie had 40% packet loss at the time, which means it was basically a 4v5. Going into the LAN final, there will be no internet issues, so we’ll take home the glory.”

However, she has no delusions about the hard work that needs to be put in to ensure victory. “During the tournament season, we have been practising every day for at least 4 hours, sometimes as long as 7 hours, she explains. “These practice sessions involve doing dry runs of strategies, making up our own strategies, watching the demos of other teams and studying the way they play certain maps, determining specific strategies to counter our opponents, watching the games of pro players, and scrimming.”

The WPGI Season One LAN Final will take place at the GSpace Gaming Lounge on March 5th. In preparation for their shot at winning $10,000, the Ravens team will be attending a week-long CSGO boot camp on the Gold Coast- fully funded by Legacy eSports. “We are actually working quite closely with Legacy- Michael Carmody (manager of Legacy eSports) is someone I really admire- I look up to him a lot, and I want to learn from him. Shoutout to Legacy for supporting us.”

“But most of all, shoutout to all our supporters. Everyone who watches our streams and our WPGI games. Thank you so much.”

More information about the WPGI CSGO LAN final can be located here.

You can keep up to date with all things Ravens by following them on Twitter here & you can find Sonia on Twitch here.

Ellis Longhurst

Ellis Longhurst

Staff Writer at GameCloud
When not patting cats, eating excessive amounts of fruit, and failing the Battlefield 4 tutorial, Ellis spends most of her time cycling around the inner west of Sydney and blatantly disregarding Professor Oak’s words of advice.