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Student wins second prize at Stepstone Digital Challenge

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Shalin Surana, a 23-year-old Indian student, finished second at the 2019 Stepstone Digital Challenge, the new student esport competition in France. In this interview, Shalin, who is a football player and mixed martial arts enthusiast, talks about his experience of participating in the competition, his passion for video games, and more.

What was it like to participate in the first edition of the Stepstone Digital Challenge?
The event was really good and it was fun to see various teams participating in different types of competitions. I did not expect it to be such a big event; around 2,000 people attended it. These events are not very common in India, especially at such a large scale. Mostly, events are organised by colleges and universities and participants are limited to other colleges and universities. Generally, companies do not take part in such events in India.

You finished second in the Clash Royale competition: congratulations! Can you tell us how it was? How was your experience of being in the final round? What were the competitors like?
Thank you! There were around 68 players and the competition comprised several elimination rounds. The players competing were very good and some of them were professional gamers. It was not easy to defeat them and most of the matches were neck-to-neck. The final round was on the stage in the centre and all eyes were on us. I felt a little nervous, as this was my first gaming competition.

Is there a moment that you particularly cherish from the competition?
Yes, the one where I secured an unexpected win. It was quarter-finals and my competitor was the best player at the event having the highest number of trophies (6,000) which were 1,000 more than mine. I was a little intimidated when my match was set with him; I lost the first game in the best-of-3 match. However, to everyone’s surprise, I won the next two games and qualified for the semi-finals.

The Stepstone Digital Challenge aims at helping students develop their talents (or soft skills) through the game. Which skills and qualities do you think were essential to win?
The competition tests one’s ability to respond to situations as the opponents’ deck and cards are a mystery. One needs to strategize one’s moves and combination of cards. Timing, placement and elixir management are the key factors. Depending on the opponent, players may have to play aggressively or defensively. It tests most of one’s skills and players have to remain calm at all times because even a minor mistake can change the outcome of the match.

What role do video games play in your life? Do they have an influence on your work and school life?
Definitely! Video games help in building soft skills and perception in various ways.

Many companies were present at the final. Did this provide you with the opportunity to network with professionals?
Yes, I did interact with a few professionals from the companies that participated in the event. Atos, Airbus, Engie, Dassault Systems for instance shared their work experience and mentioned about the job opportunities available.

Do you plan to participate in other esport competitions in the future?
This was the first time I participated in an esports competition and it turned out to be a great experience! I am definitely looking forward to attending future events.

What do you plan to do after completing your studies at SKEMA?
I am interested in working in the financial sector.

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