Digital creation

Sylvia Gathoni (aka Queen Arrow), icon of the African esports scene

I need to ensure I'm a role model for other women, and for everyone who aspires to work in the gaming industry.

Kenyan Tekken player Sylvia Gathoni (aka Queen Arrow) has become an icon of the African and global esports scenes. SAGES (Services for Africa Gaming and Esports), in close partnership with the Institut français, hosted the Swahili Esports Champions at the Nairobi Comic Convention (NAICCON) on 18 and 19 November 2023. As part of the event, the Queen Arrow Invitational brought together eight exceptional TEKKEN 7 players from eight African countries, selected by Sylvia Gathoni herself, to compete for the title of the best TEKKEN player in Africa. 

Updated on 20/12/2023

5 min

The young Kenyan player Sylvia Gathoni Whaome, known as Queen Arrow, has been making her mark on the international esports scene for several years now. Specialising in fighting games, she is known for playing the Tekken series, the iconic saga developed by Bandai Namco Games. Sylvia Gathoni began playing video games with her father and brothers at a young age, and first started out as an amateur in the rival series Mortal Kombat at a tournament at the East African Gaming Convention. The following year, she made the switch to Tekken 7, which was booming on the esports scene in East Africa. Following several successful competitions, she was the first African woman to sign a contract with a foreign team, XiT Woundz. The start of an international career lead her to win her first major tournament in 2019, the Safaricom Blaze Esports Tour. 

Like most fighting gamers, Queen Arrow usually favours the same character, in this case Ling Xiaoyu, a Chinese martial arts practitioner who prefers an agile style based on rapid keys. But in the puzzle of combat, where every strike is a risk and every action from your opponent is an opportunity to find a new block, Queen Arrow doesn't hesitate to play other "matchups" (combinations of two opponents). After a long period of growth with the US team XiT Woundz, she was also part of Brutal Democracy (UK) and UYU (US) before recently joining the South African team NIBBLE. An exemplary career in a sector still suffering from an extreme lack of representation for women, and the gender-based harassment that Sylvia Gathoni continues to warn against, seeking to act as a role model for other aspiring women. 

Although many Western and Asian players now succeed in earning a living from esports, especially thanks to awards and financial support from their teams, a career as a player remains difficult and is often poorly viewed by families. While she has a degree in law, Queen Arrow's career took on an international dimension in 2022 when she entered the list of thirty African personalities under the age of thirty published by Forbes. The following year, she also became the first Kenyan athlete to be sponsored by Red Bull. Last November, she took part in the first edition of the Swahili Esports Champions, organised by SAGES (Services for Africa Gaming and Esports) in partnership with the Institut français. On this occasion, Queen Arrow selected seven players from seven different countries to compete in the Tekken 7 game. 

  • 2019


    First win in a Tekken 7 tournament.

  • 2021


    Law degree from Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

  • 2022


    Featured in "Forbes Africa Under 30."

  • 2023


    First Kenyan athlete sponsored by Red Bull.

The Institut français
L'institut français, LAB