With the internet all a buzz over the controversial decision this week from Activision Blizzard to ban Hearthstone Asia-Pacific Grandmasters Champion, Blitzchung, for his statement in regard to the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, it’s easy to forget the Hearthstone Masters Tour Bucharest is at hand.
On October 18th in Bucharest, Romania, top Hearthstone competitors from around the world will be competing for a $300,000 prize. For many, winning means everything and winning means pressure. With a tournament on the horizon and a large prize on the line, Zaib Qayyum, age 23, adds medical school to his balancing act.
Qayyum is a Hearthstone player with Crescent Esports heading across the Atlantic to compete in the Hearthstone Masters Tour Bucharest.
A second-year medical student from New Orleans, Louisiana, Qayyum’s combination of gaming and determination to help others, in this case being medicine, is the type of player Crescent Esports holds to a standard. Community, loyalty, and respect are its mantra. A hardworking student and serious competitor go hand-in-hand in this house.
“I have always been an extreme competitor and continuously strive to the best. I played tennis very competitively and planned to play in college before injuring my shoulder,” said Qayyum, also known as HonestZaib. “I also played basketball, baseball, and a little bit of football in high school.”
Qayyum is a holder of over twenty spelling bee titles and competed nationally twice. Described as open-minded, he is compassionate and an animal lover. “I love animals, especially my cat Spooky,” said Qayyum. Adding that “balancing medical school, competitive Hearthstone and life are extremely difficult.”
“At the end of my first year, I had a lot of trouble trying to play qualifiers while studying for finals. It took a mental toll on me, and I questioned whether I could continue going forward,” said Qayyum. “This past summer, I was able to focus on Hearthstone without having to worry about school, and the success that I was able to accrue motivated me to continue the grind when the school year came around.”
Working on his mental fortitude and time management has allowed Qayyum to improve in Hearthstone. A normal day consists of classes, a minimum of six hours of study, needed errands, ending with Hearthstone. Qayyum engages in competition as he believes it to be a concrete way of judging performance and improvement.
“I have always wanted to be the best in everything that I do, and the way that I prove to myself, that I am not selling myself short and am giving it my all, is by competing. People have always told me I am a good Hearthstone player,” said Qayyum. “But I’m unable to believe that until I have success in the competitive scene. Now that I have qualified for Masters Tour Bucharest, I believe that I have gotten much better as a player, but I still have a long way to go until I am content with my play.”
When asked about qualifying for Bucharest, Qayyum describes it as a “a breath of fresh air.” Always involved in different organizations, picking up new skills or competing, medical school began to dominate his life. Qayyum confesses that focusing only on school took its toll on his mental health. “I really hated how school had taken over and how I was not doing what makes me who I am, which is working to pick up new skills and involve myself in as many things as I could,” said Qayyum.
Deciding to put everything into qualifying for the Masters Tour Bucharest, reassured Qayyum, “that part of me is still there and that it is worth it for me to continue grinding in Hearthstone. Even if it means that I have negative free time on a daily basis.” Let us hope that sleep is available at least.
When asked about advice to others, “If you’re looking to get into Hearthstone or esports, remember that you can always improve even if it feels like you are doing everything right or not finding success, and to not get complacent,” said Qayyum. “When you are in a slump, take a step back and ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to improve. Oftentimes, we begin to autopilot, and after a long day of playing we feel like nothing has changed. Nothing will change unless you work tirelessly to find new ways to learn.” Finding new ways to learn and improve are what masters do.
Let us wish Qayyum all the best as he heads out to the Hearthstone Masters Tour in Bucharest. The Crescent family is very proud and will be cheering for HonestZaib. Tune in to Twitch.tv/PlayHearthstone on October 18-20, 2019 for viewing and see the Hearthstone blog for scheduling.