At the Heroes of the Storm Collegiate Esports Championship finals, two teams with outstanding accomplishments will face off to find out who the true heroes are.

On one side is Rutgers University, a team that enters the finals with an undefeated record. On the other is Cal Poly Pomona, who return to the playoffs after a Heroic Four finish at the 2018 Heroes of the Dorm. Both schools have proven their potential, but only one team can be heroes. Will dominance or experience prevail?

The history between these two teams may lend some clues. Rutgers already won against Pomona in the group stage of the fall preseason, but fell to them in the semifinals of the fall playoffs. Based on that fact, Brett “Hebi” Sanders, of Cal Poly, has a good feeling about playing their rivals once again.

“They [Rutgers] were the first team to humble us in the fall preseason, and then we 2-0’d them in the [preseason] finals,” Hebi said. “I can see the same thing happening again this semester.”

Pomona does at least have the edge when it comes to on-stage experience. Both Andrew “MuttMcgee” Koscal and Hunter “ElCazador” Gauekl were part of the Pomona Ponies team that made it to the Heroic Four during the 2018 Heroes of the Dorm. They made a huge splash in the Blizzard Arena despite narrowly losing to the University of Buffalo 3-2.

Even a year later, Pomona’s decision to draft Cho’gall remains one of the most exciting moments in collegiate Heroes of the Storm history. According to ElCazador, it’s still the highlight of his esports career — especially when they managed to steal the boss on Braxis Holdout.

“When I get sad, I still watch this clip to remember how awesome that moment felt,” ElCazador said.

Despite their team’s Dorm experience, ElCazador admits this isn’t the same Pomona team that had so much chemistry. When most of the team left at the end of last season, it took time for the new players to click.

“We didn't have the same synergy as we had in previous seasons, where we had played together for four years,” ElCazador said. “With only two returning players, it took awhile to all get on the same page and get our mojo flowing. That being said, the synergy we have created this season is like no other, and the team environment is fantastic.”

Hebi had seen what the old synergy was like from a distance. He had transferred to Pomona in the fall of 2018, but started taking Heroes of the Storm seriously after watching his school’s Heroic Four run. After reaching 11th on the North American ladder during the summer, he was invited to join the team. Since then, he’s been an integral part of the team’s new look, alongside Quoc “ViNamCoffee” Le and Sam “Shammmmmmy” Lee.

Meanwhile, Rutgers’ only team veteran is Rick “hiimrick” Green. Some of his previous teammates were still playing during the preseason, but there were some last minute issues that challenged the team early in the season.

“Two days before the start of the season, we were told that our original support player was ineligible to participate,” hiimrick said. “We quickly reached out in our school's discord to find a replacement, and were very fortunate that NoOreos4U answered the call.”

Peter “NoOreos4U” Thatch may be new to the team, but he isn’t new to Heroes of the Storm. He’d played years ago, so it only took a bit of time for him to get back up to speed.

“One of the bigger challenges we faced was integrating me back into the game, teaching me macro, learning about all the new changes and just practicing a lot in general,” NoOreos4U said. “Having played so much recently, I do not feel like a liability. It's quite the opposite now.”

NoOreos4U is joined by Dustin “Supertai” Nguyen and Stanislav “MsMarvel” Potapov, but almost the entire team agrees that freshman Dominick “BegForMercy” Maisano is the best new addition to the team. BegForMercy is the lone holdout, who believes the whole team is “equally awesome.”

That being said, BegForMercy contributes by developing Rutgers’ draft strategies and plays assassins in-game. Hiimrick said BegForMercy is gifted in terms of game knowledge, and Supertai added that he’s an excellent shot caller.  Despite everything the whole team brings to the table, BegForMercy knows Rutgers isn’t as perfect as their record might suggest.

“We’ve had issues tilting during series in the past,” BegForMercy said. “But we’ve learned to overcome that and stay focused as best we can.”

Regardless of how his team performs, BegForMercy said the CEC finals are the highlight of his young esports career. The rest of his team said they feel the same since this final match is the culmination of their season of hard work.

Will BegForMercy help his teammates at Rutgers achieve an undefeated season, or will Cal Poly Pomona finish what they started during their deep run last year? See which heroes rise to the challenge by watching the finals on at 12:20 p.m. CDT on May 12.

About the CEC

Tespa and ESPN are excited to team up for the Collegiate Esports Championship! Schools from across the U.S. and Canada will compete live in Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and StarCraft II at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, from May 10–12.

Tickets to the event for Tespa Members can be purchased here.

As our exclusive PC and monitor partner for the year, ROG’s Strix GL12CX  and ROG Strix XG258Q will be powering all of the on-stage action at the event. In addition, teams will have access to more ROG products in the official player practice area.