Pomona Ponies were true showmen at the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, setting the crowd a fire with high strung plays and unpredictable character picks, but, sadly, that blaze wasn’t hot enough–falling short of achieving the championship and the fully paid tuition that’s awarded with it.

At the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California during quarterfinals the Ponies lost to University of Buffalo in 3-2 match, which undoubtedly was the highlight of the tournament. Université of Laval defeated University of Kentucky in 3-0 match and repeated that with Buffalo in the grand finals. Laval’s team took home the grand prize of free tuition for the rest of their college careers, and clout of becoming the first Canadian team to win the tournament.

“Though we might not do this again, it was an incredible experience to be there and represent Canada… I think we’ve made them proud,” said Laval’s Medical physics student Daniel “ULHairyblob” Gourdeau on winning Heroes of the Dorm.

The Pomona Ponies giving it their all during a heated quarterfinal round. (Courtesy of Cassandra Reynoso)

For those clueless about Heroes of the Dorm, it’s a collegiate tournament based on Blizzard Entertainment’s video game “Heroes of the Storm.” It’s a real-time strategy game which pits two teams of five against another in a map where the objective is to destroy the other team’s fortifications and eventually ending the game with the destruction of their core base.

The Ponies who included Andrew “Alterations” Koscal, Steven “Artificious” Nguyen, Hunter “Elcazador” Gaukel, Joshua “Josh” Childers, Warren “Pally” Willis, Matthew “Loldotasotis” Moore proved their aggressive strategy could be flashy and win matches in the first game against Buffalo.

The Ponies often charged toward Buffalo’s lines, throwing themselves at enemy players defeating a few and somehow retreated to safety moments before imminent death.

Moore often found himself maneuvering toward Buffalo almost toying with death.

Moore reasoned that, “If you have more health to play with you get to play the game longer….you can go and take a really bad trade and then just get healed up so you don’t get punished at all for it. I’m fine with that. I take stupid trades, I make my healers work for it.”

In the second and third game Buffalo snapped back dragging the Ponies behind with a 2-1 victory. These matches were close, but in the second half of both Buffalo outpaced the Ponies and made it to the core base before the Ponies could.

With their backs to the wall Ponies threw a massive gambit picking a character that’s rarely seen at professional level of play.

The character chosen, Cho’gall, is a massive two headed ogre who’s uniquely played by two players simultaneously where one player has control over movement and another control over other fighting abilities. The crowd and Buffalo were flabbergasted at such a pick. When Buffalo faced on Cho’gall they frequently retreated back without killing him.

“This strategy worked so well on this map we had to do it,” said fourth-year computer-science student Hunter “Elcazador” Gaukel.

The choice of Cho’gall was too much for Buffalo and the Ponies ended with the win for game four.

Fatigue was high going into game five, both Buffalo and the Ponies had been playing none stop for almost four hours. With the combination of Buffalo’s unyielding teamwork and the Ponies’ character choices, which couldn’t deal much damage, Buffalo trampled over the Ponies and advanced to the grand finals against Laval.

That was the end for the five seniors who’ve played this tournament since its beginning. In years past they’ve made it to to top 32 but never as far as this one.

None of them are interested in going pro in Esports, but that doesn’t quantify their love for the game.

Almost four years ago when Heroes of the Dorm began their love for the game brought them all together, and though they weren’t the ones going home with the prize money they all agreed they’d compete no matter if there was a prize at all.

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