Team SoloMid fields one of the most stacked Fortnite line-ups in the battle royale’s competitive scene, featuring top-level competitors such as Myth, Daequan, and Hamlinz. But Maria, better known as TSM Chica, stands out from the rest of the squad—and for more reasons than one. Not only is she an insanely talented Fortnite player, but she is the only woman on TSM’s Fortnite roster, and one of the most prominent Twitch streamers to regularly stream in multiple languages. We spoke to Maria to learn more about her background in streaming and plans for the future.
From her early childhood in Puerto Rico onwards, gaming was always a big part of Maria’s life. “When I was 5 years old I spent a lot of time at my godparent’s house,” said Maria. “My godsisters always hogged the Nintendo 64, so I asked my mom to buy my own console for Christmas and she did. The first game I played was 007: GoldenEye.”
Before Maria began her streaming career, she had her hands full as both a student and full-time worker. But despite this packed schedule, she was always able to find time to play her favorite first-person shooter titles. “My brother introduced me to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I thought it was the best game ever made,” said Maria. “I was amazed that I was able to make friends online.”
Maria’s FPS skills continued to grow, but it remained difficult for her to find time to stream until
she learned about the video streaming capabilities of the PlayStation 4. “I started streaming when I got a PS4 and noticed that you could stream directly from the PS4 to Twitch,” said Maria. “I started streaming Call of Duty and a couple other FPS games.”
After honing her abilities in Call of Duty, Maria stumbled upon Fortnite and was soon hooked on the free-to-play game. “Fortnite changed my life,” said Maria. Her fanbase boomed after the release of the battle royale title, and her increased notoriety soon put her on TSM’s radar. In October 2018, Maria accepted an offer to become TSM’s first female Fortnite player.
“Joining TSM is an absolute dream come true,” said Maria in TSM’s official press release. “It’s a blessing to be among some of the world’s most talented and passionate gaming competitors/entertainers.”
Of course, being an esports professional isn’t all fun and games. “I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of time with my loved ones,” said Maria. “Even when I am not live, most of the time I am still working; whether it be on YouTube videos, Instagram, Twitch, etc. There is always something to be done when you are a streamer and it takes up a lot of your time.”
One advantage of Maria’s prolific streaming and content creation is that she’s able to satisfy multiple facets of her fanbase. As Maria is perhaps the most prominent streamer to come out of Puerto Rico, a large portion of her fanbase speaks Spanish as their first language.
“I realized that a lot of my viewers only spoke Spanish and didn’t understand a word I was saying,” said Maria. “I can only speak for myself, and now that I’m speaking more Spanish on stream I feel like my viewers get to see more of who I truly am.”
Sometimes, Maria tweets ahead of her Spanish-only streams, giving her Spanish-speaking fans time to tune in. But she often finds that she has to contend with both English- and Spanish-speaking viewers during her everyday streams. “One of the biggest challenges is balancing conversations with different people in chat,” said Maria. “Some of my viewers don’t speak English at all, so I just do my best to have a unique conversation with everyone, while trying to keep everyone on the same page. This takes a lot of mental focus and energy.”
But Maria knows how important this effort is to her fans, and she doesn’t plan on ending her Spanish streams any time soon. The impact of her bilingual streaming is evident enough in the comments of her videos and social media posts, which are often flooded with proud Puerto Ricans cheering on their hometown hero.
No matter what the future holds for Maria, she has firmly established herself as a top-of-the-line Twitch streamer and skilled Fortnite player. At this point, every accomplishment is just icing on the cake for TSM’s badass Puertorriqueña.
“My advice to anyone is to stay true to yourself, be patient and be consistent,” said Maria. “Streaming takes a lot of time and make sure you do it for the right reasons.”
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website www.alexlee.work.