Soleil ‘EwOk’ Wheeler is one of the most inspirational streamers in the Fortnite community. He joined the esports org at only 13, and that’s not even the most impressive feat – the teen did it all while deaf.
EwOk’s success on Twitch and beyond has resulted in the accumulation of over 250,000 followers and even more on Instagram where he sits around 368,000.
He is an anomaly in an ocean of wannabe pros and broadcasters across the globe. But where did he come from, and what does the future hold?
EwOk is the first transgender star to join FaZe.
Birth of a streamer
Wheeler first had dreams of streaming and playing against pros like Ninja when he watched them compete against each other. In search of making dreams a reality, he started streaming on Twitch in October of 2018 after getting a gaming PC. EwOk was an obvious choice of gamer tag, as according to CNN, one of his four dogs looks like an Ewok from the legendary film series ‘Star Wars’.
Like all streamers, EwOk started off small, with only three viewers watching him play at first. But as he kept with it, that number kept improving and growing, all while he racked up over 300 wins in Fortnite.
But come March, everything was about to change.
Wheeler was given a jersey by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kurt Benkert.
Rise to stardom
On March 7, 2019, extremely popular Twitch icon Timothy ‘TimTheTatman’ Betar was coming off a long stream and decided to host the young deaf player, sending thousands of his viewers his way.
Making the most of this opportunity, the teen kept playing to his now supersized audience and went from under 1000 followers on March 7 to just under 10,000 by March 10.
From there, everything just snowballed. Positive media reaction, Twitter growth, everything. The internet was set ablaze by the fact that not only was a kid this young so good at Fortnite, but they were doing it all with a handicap.
A few months later, EwOk’s Twitch account reached the 100,000 followers milestone. Not too bad for spending less than a year on the platform.
EwOk teamed up with Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert at the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am.
It even reached a point where Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert (who had viewed EwOk’s stream during Tim’s host) teamed up with the young superstar at the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am at The Forum in Los Angeles.
While the two didn’t win, it was Ewok’s first-ever offline event and a sign of things to come.
Making FaZe history
On July 27, 2019, it was revealed that Ewok was recruited to FaZe Clan as the group’s first-ever female star prior to his transition in 2020. FaZe co-founder Ricky Banks announced the news with a welcome Tweet, officially marking esports history.
“Welcome to FaZe, you’re incredible, you inspire me,” Banks tweeted, revealing EwOk’s recruitment. “First girl ever in FaZe. I’m glad we held out this long. You’re perfect.”
— FaZe EwOk (@Ewok) July 28, 2019
Shortly after, the growing star posted a Twitter video where he revealed the good news using sign language.
“I wanted to really jump into that and make history,” he then told CNN.
Does being deaf affect how he plays?
EwOk has revealed that despite being deaf, Fortnite has an internal sound visualizer that may even give him an edge.
“The sound visualizer has been very helpful and it allows me to play on the same level, although there are a few sounds that are still missing in it,” Wheeler told ESPN. “Overall, it allows me to be just as good as other players, if not better. I compensate the inability to hear chat by texting in chats and signing in video chats.”
— FaZe EwOk (@Ewok) June 17, 2019
And the Twitch community has been very accepting. “Some of the popular streamers knew I was deaf, so they waved on the screen and typed in chat to reply to me. Some of them even learned how to sign,” she said.
What’s more, is the teen can also use his inability to hear as a sick burn against game developers. When the community was up in arms over the BRUTE Mech controversy, he mentioned Fortnite, saying, “Please do something I haven’t been able to do since birth. Listen.”
Considering all this happened in just one year, there’s no telling what year two of EwOk’s streaming career has in store for us.