After rising above over 400 other schools, SIUE esports club’s Hearthstone team finished fourth at the fall 2019 Collegiate Championship Semi Finals on Dec. 14th, at Full Sail University in Florida. 


Hearthstone is a virtual card game where players build a deck of cards and choose one of nine classes to play as, each class having their own special powers and cards. Two competing players then take turns playing cards in order to deplete their opponents’ health. During a tournament, like the one SIUE competed in, teams of three all work together to decide the best strategy to defeat the other team.


 The team included the captain, senior computer science major Esmir Karabas, of St. Louis and senior computer engineering major Brad Johnson, of Chatham, Illinois. The tournament they competed in is a semester long tournament in which teams first must qualify in the top 32 teams of their region and then can proceed by qualifying in the top four to make it to the semifinals and finals.


The four teams that made it to the semifinals along with SIUE were Rochester Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley and Simon Fraser University. SFU beat SIUE in their match and after RIT won their match against UC Berkeley, they went on to beat SFU in the final game for the grand prize. Karabas commented on the elimination. 


“We played to our strengths the best we could, but we were always missing that one card,” said Karabas. 


Johnson had a positive outlook on tournaments going forward. 


“I think you can expect us to maybe make it back again to the prize pool if Tespa wants to sponsor another tournament this semester, because we [made it to semifinals] last semester it did give us a lot of confidence and reason to take it more seriously and give it a shot,” Johnson said. 


The team’s loss can be attributed to changes in the game before the tournament and the date of the event itself. The tournament took place right after finals which, according to Johnson, didn’t give the team a lot of time to practice. Johnson also said changes in the game forced them to adapt quickly.


“The game had an expansion drop like 3 days before the tournament which changed the meta and the strategies coming into the game,” Johnson said.


When the team did have time to practice and prepare, they would do so by playing each other one on one, taking time to coordinate decks and strategies, and researching the current “meta,” which is what cards and strategies are currently considered best by the game’s community.


Moving forward, the team is ready to compete in the Spring 2020 tournament, and they’re also looking to recruit other potential players to form sister Hearthstone teams for the esports club. 


Esports club president, senior computer science major Jordan Kramer, of O’Fallon, Illinois, is proud of the team. 


“When they were down there they just seemed like one of the most happiest teams,” Kramer said, “They were the only team that I saw down there that had smiles on their faces during every single part of the game … they placed top four in the whole tournament which is unbelievable and they had fun doing it which honestly is what matters in the end.” 


Students interested in joining the esports club can reach out to Kramer by emailing him at The club will also be hosting an open house for their new esports arena at 2 pm. Jan. 16, at Bluff Hall.

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