GuhRL will make history this weekend as the first woman to compete in the ALGS Pro League in North America. This comes only months after being dropped from the casting desk. She sat down with Tom from esports.gg to discuss her journey and expectations for this coming split.

From competing, to casting, and now back to competing, Laurice “GuhRL” Habibi has been trailblazing for women in Apex Legends, and esports, her whole career.

Now, following a tough Challenger Circuit, she is the first woman to compete in the North American ALGS Pro League, which resumes this weekend.

Esports.gg sat down with the 26 year old Canadian to explore her journey and her expectations for the Pro League split.

This article was powered by Women in Games International.

GuhRL’s out of the blue casting call

Apex Legends fans will best know GuhRL from her time casting the first year of ALGS. But, how did this opportunity to cast the biggest Apex tournaments come around? At the time, GuhRL was competing in ALGS.

“I got a message in my DM saying, Would you be interested in casting and I said, Yeah, I love to give it a try.” said GuhRL about her entry to ALGS casting.

Tom: “They approached you before you had even casted anything before?”

“Yeah, and the reason why they asked me if I was interested in casting, I think is because they wanted, I think they wanted, a female caster, but also an ex pro.” said she continued. “They really wanted an ex pro that knew in depth what what they were casting about.”

Fallout and HeyGuhRL castig in the ALGS Winter Circuit.

This knowledge led to many Apex players coming to benefit from GuhRL’s insights, in particular her segment where she focused on tips and tricks for casual players.

A mixed reception from the community

GuhRL didn’t always get an amazing reception from all corners of the Apex community.

Tom: “When you were casting do you think you got a bit of a hard rap from the community?”

“I did. Yeah. Yeah. I did,” she reminisced. “But I didn’t pay any attention to it really”

However, not paying attention to it didn’t mean that there was no pressure. GuhRL adopted a positive approach that helped channel this pressure in a positive way.

“Anyone with constructive criticism, I would listen to it. Whether it was a viewer or my casting buddies. [ALGS Staff] always said that I learned really fast and I accepted feedback really well.”

GuhRL.

“When it just comes to like people just bashing me. Based on my voice or whatever, obviously you’re going to be nervous.”

“But with all the pressure and stuff and the bashing and it’s hard, and you’re always like scared. You’re like, Oh, I’m scared of what I’m gonna look like I’m scared of what I’m gonna sound like I’m scared of why they’re gonna think of me like, because there’s so much judgement online.”

Dropped from the ALGS casting desk

GuhRL received fantastic feedback throughout her time on ALGS. She was a quick learner and picked up the real really fast. She made several sacrifices to keep casting. But ALGS did not renew her contract for Year 2. This was a major surprise not only to herself but also to the community.

However, while GuhRL told esports.gg that she received fantastic feedback throughout her time with ALGS, quickly picking up the role, they did not renew her contract for Year 2. This came as a major surprise to the community and GuhRL herself.

“I actually turned down an offer from a major esports org to be able to pursue casting”: GuhRL

“I think at the end of last year, I asked them something about like, if I joined an org, I wouldn’t be able to cast right. So that was at the end of last year. And they said unfortunately, no. So I actually turned down an offer from a major esports org to be able to pursue casting”.

GuhRL found out over email, just days before ALGS returned, that she would not be renewed for ALGS year 2. Notably, after people had gathered their teams together to compete.

“I emailed in September and said, I was wondering if we had like any schedule of the upcoming tournaments for this year. And then she sent me an email saying, like that, due to research purposes or something that I won’t be invited back again this year, something like that.”

So, out of the blue, Guhrl was dropped from the casting desk. But what exactly was “research purposes”.

“There was really no hints, but it also could, they also could have drop me because of my inflexibility, I guess. Or not being inflexible at the last moment when they needed me the most I should have been flexible. I was just emotional. I was just too emotional, maybe.”

Analyst role rejection

The flexibility that GuhRL referred too is in regards to the ALGS Championships. GuhRL was asked to move from casting (commentating) to being ‘on the desk’ (analyzing).

“They assigned me the casting role in the beginning, and they assigned Tom the analysis role. And then I think we are supposed to switch and learn the other role, but they wanted to push me to improve on casting, so I never ended up being on the analyst role.”

However, right before a major tournament, this changed.

“They wanted me to go into analyst role in the very big and for my first time, in the biggest tournament that I’ve been looking forward to, and that I’ve worked really hard to, you know, prove myself to be there. So I really was, I think I had a breakdown. Because I was nervous. And I just kind of felt like I was getting ripped off or something.”

“I kind of put my foot down. And yeah, that was probably a really bad decision by me. But I ended up being able to cast one region and then I did analyst the other. I said fine, like sure. I’ll try it. And I didn’t like it at all”.

Return to competitive with TDG

Ghurl reunited with TDG, and they qualified through the Challenger Circuit, finishing 9th in the finals. Only the top 8 teams would qualify and it seemed like TDG would have barely missed out. They qualified, after a team already in Pro League disbanded.

“So actually, we were getting messages from a couple pro league players or players in the scene that kind of knew what was going on in those teams. In that one team that dropped out, they’re like, oh, they might disband. They might disband. If they disband, you get their spot. And I’m just here like, okay, um, I don’t really want to cheer for them to disband because I hope everything’s okay.”

“But at the same time, I’m like, let us know because if we are in it, then I’m going to prepare. So I bought a new PC. I bought a new monitor, mouse. I bought new everything. Because being in pro league is like, you need the best of the best to compete with the best. Yeah. So that was exciting to find out”

GuhRL has experience at Apex LAN

GuhRL finally finds out she is in Pro League

Being in the Pro League is a different ball game, as you have to compete against the best teams in North America. For GuhRL, their team is catching up to some of the biggest teams that have never stopped competing. It’s going to be a struggle and she has realistic expectations going forward.

Guhrl: “Very nervous, because this is kind of how I feel like for Pro League, the top 20 teams are in NA are like the best and the bottom 20 teams are like all teams that just need to catch up to them type thing, you know what I mean? So there are those consistent teams.”

“And then there are those teams that have a lot to learn. Especially being a team that hasn’t competed in a very long time. Yeah, compared to like teams like TSM who never stopped competing. It has been and is going to be a struggle”.

GuhRL is worried about facing experienced pros such as ImperialHal

How will Guhrl’s team fare against the best of the best? She isn’t setting wild expectations.

“Expectations for each and every time we play is to do better the next time. So as long as we’re not making silly mistakes that we already have been making, then I’m going to be happy because that just shows that we’re improving.

I don’t expect us to place any certain placement. I just expect us to do our absolute best as a team and work on improving alongside each other.”

GuhRL flying the flag for Women in North American Apex

While Apex does have some notable female competitors, such as Sabz_Bear and Esdesu in EMEA, GuhRL is the first woman to compete in the Pro League in North America.

Tom: “Do you feel extra pressure being the only woman in your region?”

GuhRL: “Yeah, I feel like if I, if I do bad, then people are just gonna be like, well, you know, you don’t belong in esports”

Esdesu was one of the first women to compete at the top level in Apex

“I feel like from the very beginning of APEX, I was always trying to prove myself, I will always try to do better always trying to, you know, win in high level matches. And even like, when I was going for rank 36, I wasn’t satisfied. I’m still always and ever will be trying to prove myself as I’m not the best yet. Whether I’m a woman or a man, I still like I’m not there.”

However, the introduction of Storm Point levels the playing field for newer teams.

Can other women follow GuhRL into the scene?

She’s the first woman to compete in the Pro League in North America. But she says that doesn’t mean there’s no talent.

“I think that there are plenty of other woman that are just as good as me, that don’t compete. And I think that the more role models that we have, the more woman that we can inspire.

“I think a lot of people are scared because of the like the cultural biases of we’re not good enough or or we don’t compete because we’re scared we’re gonna do bad we’re behind Right? Or, you know, anyone, not even just woman but anyone like starting to compete now they’re going to be really, really behind like you’re saying, these pros have had the experience on worlds edge for forever. They’ve claimed their spots, you know, contesting for a spot. It’s like, it’s absolute hell, yeah.”

Role models like GuhRL can help inspire

For a woman to get into casting, or competing, it’s good to have role models, and it’s good to show those role models

Guhrl

“So but for a woman to get into casting, or competing, it’s good to have role models, and it’s good to show those role models, it’s good to show that women can make it into the top 40 teams in North America or make it into apex predator.

“I think supporting other woman’s just as going to help that overall. I know a lot of people have said that I’ve inspired them to stream or inspired them to play rank or or anything like that, or just to play the game in general. Not just women, but anyone and and that’s really nice. So it’s like watching people, you know, that are nice and and I don’t know, like having role models in the industry, I guess is the way to do it.”

Could Apex follow STEM?

The hope, GuhRL says, is that esports can follow fields like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). She talks about how giving opportunities to women allowed them to excel in the field, being as good and in some cases, better than men.

“There were no women in it. And then once they put like women together in an environment, and then they started to do better themselves, and they start to be just as good as men. But before they were in STEM research or whatnot, people thought they were they weren’t good enough to do it.

If you don’t see other woman in competitive gaming, you’re not going to have that inspiration.

Guhrl on other women joining the Apex pro circuit.

“So it’s the same with competitive gaming. If you don’t see other woman in competitive gaming, you’re not going to have that inspiration, you’re not going to even think you have the chance to be in it and that and you’re not going to excel”.

Who could follow in GuhRL’s footsteps? She named, Lulu, BabyNikki, Avuhlie, Janey among others.

Could Lulu also compete at the highest level of ALGS?

GuhRL: “I think like if they picked three legends to ban for ALGS it would be like really healthy. I feel like crypto isn’t healthy for ALGS at all”.

When asked if she could change something about ALGS she was quick in expressing her dislike for Crypto.

“Personally, don’t like crypto being in the ALGS,” GuhRL said. “Firstly, I think like if they picked three legends to ban for ALGS it would be like really healthy, but I feel like crypto for one isn’t healthy for ALGS at all.”

GuhRL spoke about her displeasure for Crypto in ALGS.

“Well for one you know how people still struggle with meds? Yeah, crypto can sit in a building and just spam EMP a team in a completely safe spot with no repercussion.

And number two is it instantly does 150 damage, 50 damage on everyone’s shields and slows them and there’s really like no repercussions you could you could be doing that in someone else’s fight”.

TDG debut this Sunday

TDG will be debuting in the ALGS Pro League this Sunday. How will GuhRL fare against the best of the best. It is certainly fantastic for the scene to have a strong, articulate advocate for women in esports.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest Apex Legends news and full coverage of the ALGS Pro League.

Tom Bull -

Tom Bull

| Twitter: @TAG_tom_apex | Twitch: tom_apex

Born and raised in the United Kingdom. Owner of Transatlantic Gaming and an Apex Legends competitive player in the EU. Mostly play either Wraith, Wattson or Bloodhound.