A Saints first

Jordan Ferris
By Jordan Ferris February 23, 2018 12:57

By Jordan Ferris

A St. Clair College Esports player has won the school’s first major Esports championship.

Zander Paine, a first year student in the culinary program, won the Hearthstone grand final in Montreal, Feb. 11. Hearthstone is an online card collectible video game. Paine was one of the school’s three Hearthstone players and the only one to make it into the final 10.

Esports is when a multiplayer video game is played competitively for spectators much like hockey or basketball would be.  

Saints Hearthstone coach Ryan Brook was one of the original people who has helped with the creation of the gaming team. Brook has also been working with Paine since the beginning of the season. Brook said going into the weekend they never had to worry about Paine’s mental state because they knew he could handle himself.

“He is a very level-headed player so he kept himself calm. As soon as he realized that he had what it takes to beat the players that are there, it wasn’t so much as pressure on him, but keeping a calm head,” said Brook.

Paine was the only Saints player to reach a final in the LAN ETS tournament in Montreal. In winning the tournament, Paine, also received a cheque for $1,500. Despite the fact he was able to keep such a calm head throughout, Paine said he was overcome with emotion upon winning.

“It was an out of body experience. It was weird to win against those type of players and be in a tournament that big and do so well,” said Paine.

Paine has been playing Hearthstone for about six years, ever since the game’s beta version was released, but has been playing in a competitive manner for a couple of years. A beta is when a testing version of the game is released before the full release. Paine said he was successful at the competitive level before joining the Saints team.

“I have won a LAN of the Dead tournament before, got second at Saints Gaming and placed 13th on a summer Tespa series so I’ve been placing,” said Paine “I won a first place at a LAN but that was more of a casual tournament.”

Tespa is an organization supported by video game company Blizzard that makes games like Hearthstone, Overwatch, and StarCraft. They run collegiate tournaments and leagues for all colleges around North America.

Looking back at his previous accomplishments, Paine said his experience helped him get a spot on the Saints team in the first place.

“I knew the coach personally outside of school and was playing Hearthstone for Tespa with the University of Windsor,” said Paine. “It was natural to go to Saints Gaming and at least play the tournament, and I got second at Saints Gaming Live so I was offered the registration.”

By the time Paine’s finals match was underway, every other Saints player had finished their games and were watching Paine. When Paine finally won the match his team was there to congratulate him and celebrate. Brook said he felt it was a team bonding moment.

“To have him win with all of our crew standing behind him was such a crowning moment,” said Brook.

Teammate Luca Acchione, 26,  is in his second second year at St. Clair and is currently studying computer networking. Acchione said it was fun being in Montreal for such a big tournament. He also said the win was big for Paine but there was more to it.

“I was really happy for what he [Paine] did for the program,” said Acchione. “It brings a lot of validation to the program.”

Paine said he is hopeful this strong ending is just the beginning to something much larger.

“More finishes hopefully, maybe get us more well known in the community,” said Paine. “I know we were getting more Twitter followers and more activity from other teams in Montreal. So hopefully more like that.”

The Saints are currently in the beginning of their second season and hold a record of 1-1.

Jordan Ferris
By Jordan Ferris February 23, 2018 12:57

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