Student Spotlight: Sian "Zells" dela Cruz

#NotJustPlay Student Spotlight tells the stories of students and their efforts, struggles and victories in delving into the world of esports while balancing their studies.

Sian “Zells” dela Cruz shocked his own schoolmates from Holy Angels University when he placed at the top of 40 campus contenders in the recently concluded AcadArena Aces: Campus Open for Legends of Runeterra.


He and his schoolmate, Redplank, showed that HAU talent is a force to be reckoned with. The Pampanga-based campus was the only university that had two students make it to the top 8. 


But years ago, Zells was undergoing a lifestyle change as he looked to cut down his gaming time or quit video games entirely.


“It was becoming unhealthy for me,” Zells recalls. “That’s when I turned to Hearthstone. I could cut back on my gaming time while still being at the top of my game.” 

Valiant Esports Club congratulates Zells in his Challenger climb in June 2020 for Teamfight Tactics.


Now, he’s an undisputed RNG prodigy, placing in Legends of Runeterra and Teamfight Tactics tournaments. He’s currently top 1 in the country for Teamfight Tactics.


He first became active in campus tournaments through Valiant Esports Club, an independently run campus esports initiative by former League of Legends pro player, Kinzonn, who is currently enrolled in HAU.


AcadArena sponsored a few tournaments of said organization and is now onboarding them into the AcadArena Alliance Program--a student org support initiative that helps organizations build up projects and infrastructure that makes esports relevant to the student lifestyle.

HAU students placed 1st and 8th in the recently concluded AcadArena Aces: Campus Open for Legends of Runeterra last June 6.


“The most important thing for me (when it comes to esports) is its social benefits,” Zells comments when asked about his experience with AcadArena tournaments so far.


Holy Angels University in Pampanga has been one of the stricter campuses when it comes to embracing esports as a whole according to Zells. Nonetheless, Pampanga has been on the map for esports talent for the longest time. Van “Vansu” Alfonso, former LoL SEA Tour PH representative and Kiel “Stringy” Paras, 1st runner-up in the 2019 AcadArena Nationals for LoL are both Pampanguenos. The former is even an alumnus of HAU.


We asked Zells what he would like to say to his teachers if given a chance to make a case for esports in their campus. He took to his own experiences to give his two cents on the matter: 


“A lot of people tend to view Esports in a negative light because of many cases of gaming addiction that leads to students' poor academic performance. However, the same can be said to people who are addicted to their hobby and end up disregarding their studies. An esports org can help students balance their time.”


Zells has his whole college life ahead of him still. With student models like him excelling in video games while disciplined in their studies, it boosts Valiant Esports Club’s ongoing campus esports campaign in HAU.  


Actions speak louder than words afterall.


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