Today, the world of esports and competitive gaming mourns the loss of professional Valorant player Gizem “Luie” Harmankaya. Following days of uncertainty, she is confirmed to have died in the devastation following a pair of earthquakes that struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday, February 6. This story contains descriptions of the trauma and destruction following the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Hitting parts of Turkey and Syria early on Monday morning, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that lasted for as long as two minutes and was followed by a second 7.5 magnitude quake nine hours later, has taken the lives of nearly 12,000 people. The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies and potential survivors remain trapped under rubble. Relief efforts, particularly from Turkey’s government, have been met with criticism over resources, attention, and response time.
In the wake of the disaster, reports of missing people have gone unanswered for tens of hours at a time. Such was the case with Gizem Harmankaya, who was reported to have gone missing after the earthquake first struck on February sixth. Living in Marash, Turkey, Harmankaya was most recently on the female roster for esports team UnknownPros. She had previously played for Galakticos Sirens and Viviace Vista. She played her last pro game on August 13, 2022. Despite losing two games to Beşiktaş Esports, she emerged as one of the top players on her team.
“We can’t reach our friend Gizem Harmankaya” a translation of an all-caps tweet from Turkish Youtuber Tolunary Ören on February 6 reads. “We cannot get news [...] for 24 hours please help.” Tweet replies echo the frustration and panic of failing to get any word on Harmankaya’s status.
Following as much as 40 hours of uncertainty, Harmankaya was confirmed to be one of those lost to the disaster after being trapped under rubble for as long as two days. Turkish esports club UnknownPros was one of the earliest to confirm her passing:
Similar tweets and replies show an outpouring of sadness over the loss and condolences for the surviving family and those who are still yet to be found or are still trapped. “Rest in peace Gizem💜 Losing women within the scene really do hit hard. Your achievements will not be forgotten,” reads one tweet from Valorant player and content creator Emlux.
The death toll continues to climb in Turkey and Syria. With relief efforts complicated by the damage, support from the United Nations, United States, and organizations such as the White Helmets are still active in providing aid and rescue.
If you would like to help with relief efforts, The New York Times has put together a researched guide on which organizations are currently accepting donations.