Early last year, pro gamer Linda Liao made waves when she joined Team Razer's competitive gaming team. Lao isn't only a pro gamer. Oh no, she's much more.
In her native Taiwan, she's an actress and pop star, who stars in dramas like Chase or They Are Flying and movies like horror flick Twisted. She's famous enough that she even appeared on the evening news after brouhaha broke out over intimate dancing with Taiwanese popstar J.J. Lin.
Liao has also worked as a MTV VJ and a model; FHM Singapore voted her its second sexiest woman back in 2006.
Even with her busy schedule, the competitive StarCraft II Protoss player manages to squeeze in 4 to 5 hours of gaming during the week and up to 10 hours a day during the weekend. Her action-per-minute ratio is around 220, which puts her in the neighbourhood of famed SC player FruitDealer. Liao games as "Pikachu" because she was really into Pocket Monsters when she started playing StarCraft.
"Real Time Strategy games like StarCraft are really exciting," Liao said in a 2010 interview (via Team Liquid. "It not only requires technical skills, at the same time it also drains a lot of your brain juice."
Born in Taiwan but educated in Canada, Liao started gaming while in college — spending hours upon hours at her computer and only leaving for the occasional toilet break. For her, gaming is a top priority. "I think gaming is for everyone, be it heavier games like CounterStrike or RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games like StarCraft, or even light games on handheld consoles and mobile games like Angry Birds."
Now that Liao's a bona fide celebrity and everybody knows her Pikachu moniker, playing online must be tricky. "There was this one time my ally recognised who I was and started to spell my name with pylons (a game element in StarCraft)," she told Men's Health. "I tried to spell 'LOL' back with pylons, too, but it was the end of the game. That did put a smile on my face, though."
Like competitive Street Fighter player Kayo Satoh — a mainstream celebrity in her own country — Liao isn't just another celebrity gamer. She's a celebrity who games extremely well.