• Vladyslava Zakhliebina is the Team Manager of OG Esports – one of the sides that is aiming to qualify for the BLAST Premier World Final, an elite esports tournament that will be held in Abu Dhabi from 17-18 December.
  • The Ukrainian shares her story on her professional career, how she proved people wrong and predicts a bright future for esports.
  • Tickets are now available to purchase for the gaming event. General admission ranges from AED 115 only while Students will be charged AED 50.

Abu Dhabi: A former professional Counter-Strike player and esports personality has described the positive impact the industry has had on her and hopes more women in the Middle East can take an interest in it and pursue a career in the future.

Having been involved in esports for over 12 years, Vladyslava Zakhliebina is now the team manager for OG Esports – one of the global teams that will be aiming to book their place in next month’s BLAST Premier World Final in Abu Dhabi between 17-18 December.

Her interest in gaming began from childhood with her strong passion leading her to make a career out of it later. She said: “I first started playing Counter-Strike at school just for fun, but it grew into something more serious during my second year of university when I ended my career as a professional athlete. I started trying to get a deeper understanding of the game and training process to become a professional player.

“It also came at a time when esports was not as big. People would ask me what esports is and whether I can be a professional gamer. The answer I would give is that being a professional is a lot different to just gaming as you need to know much more about the game specifics, team dynamic and analysis behind it. This is like playing football with your friends in the yard or at a professional level like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Everyone has a chance to try, but not everyone has the strength and passion to succeed and become a legend.”

She added: “During the early days of my esports career, I would get messages from people that I’m not good enough just because I was a girl or some would say that games are just for guys and girls cannot understand games. It’s always sad to see such messages, but they have never stopped me or affected my passion for esports. I was eager to show not only what I can do, but also this industry belongs to females and they can be successful too. I believe esports provides a place for everyone.”

Despite her success, she credits her family for giving her this opportunity to pursue her passion.

“I’m very grateful to my parents for always supporting me with all of my decisions,” she said. “I remember I couldn’t stop practising and honing my skills in Counter-Strike and spent many late nights working towards my goals. Our apartment wasn’t big and I would sometimes disturb my parents while sleeping, but they never asked me to stop practising.”

With the number of female gamers growing rapidly around the world including in the UAE where women gamers account for 58 per cent of online adults, Vladyslava is pleased to see the female gaming sector increase in popularity.

“I see a lot of steps are being taken and hope there are more females that are taking an interest in esports. The BLAST Premier World Final is a great tournament that can attract new audiences including females and see how incredible gaming can be. Esports will continue to grow especially with technology advancing and maybe soon we will see some mixed teams of males and females performing at a high level, which will give a new round of development for the industry.”

Having gained a lot of new skills that have been vital to her everyday life such as time management and team work, she believes people should just give gaming a try or watch a tournament such as the BLAST Premier World Final.

She said: “Just try and don’t question yourself. People will question a lot of things but may not try it. You just need to ask yourself can you be a gamer or team manager. Of course you can. Anyone can – but you just need to understand which direction you want to go and then try it.”

Tickets for the last two days of the World Final start from only AED 115 per person while Student tickets are priced at AED 50 with different hospitality packages are also available.

To purchase tickets, please visit Tickets are also available at Platinum List and Virgin Megastore.


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BLAST Premier is a worldwide Counter-Strike tournament series where the best teams and biggest superstars fight it out for glory and a multi-million dollar prize pool. Famous for its unparalleled production quality and game changing fan-first moments. Attracting tens-of-thousands of fans to our crazy-big-adrenaline-pumped live events in big arenas from London and Copenhagen to Miami and Sao Paulo, with millions more watching at home on our broadcast tuning in from more than 154 territories and in 25 different languages.