Esports Tournament at Grey Cup Festival top draw for top players

Kelsy Medeiros first experienced esports a decade ago while on a family vacation in New York..

“We saw an ad on an online site where I played as a teen and I begged my parents to stop by since it was in Jersey,” she said.

The then 16-year-old signed up to play and it was a disaster. She got “bodied” – utterly destroyed in competition – and she cried. But the introduction ignited a passion.

“I was so motivated, inspired. I was like, ‘I want to be on that stage,’” she said.

Over the next few years, Medeiros practiced when she could – between high school then college classes, even a part time job – until, finally, attending her first official tournament in 2015.

Now the Montreal-based athlete, whose player name is SuperGirlKels, is the No. 1 Sonic the Hedgehog in Canada. She will enter the Path to Glory tournament at the 2022 Grey Cup Festival on Friday seeded ninth of 256 athletes.

A ninth-place finish would net $1,000, with the top 16 athletes all getting a slice of the $50,000 prize pool – the largest in Canadian esports history. 

The winner, determined Saturday night, takes home a $15,000 grand prize.

“We are so privileged to have this opportunity because we don’t get this,” Medeiros explained, adding Canadian prize purses are significantly smaller than other countries.

The tournament is a first for Grey Cup Festival and free for people of all ages to drop by the Brandt Centre to watch, cheer on or ask questions.

“Hopefully find even just that one kid with widened eyes who is inspired to be on stage and, whatever game they’re playing, the crowd is causing an earthquake just from yelling,” she said. “That’s one of the best experiences to feel.”

The 27-year-old sponsored athlete, who also coaches and commentates on esports, isn’t the only member of her family flying to Regina to compete.

Younger brother Jayson, who was with Medeiros at that fateful Jersey tournament, has quickly climbed the ranks of the esports world.

At just 20 years old, “Soar” is already a Top 10 Smash player in Canada – among many other accolades – and is seeded seventh in Path to Glory after finishing first in the Montreal qualifier.

Jayson said he’s feeling good about his bracket and preparation for Path to Glory.

“I play a character that requires a lot of homework and preparation to defeat (Steve) and due to this, I believe I can catch many of my opponents off guard with my playbooks,” he said, adding that visiting Regina will be a first for him and Medeiros.

“It’s super cool to always have her by my side and not be only my biggest supporter, but also my best friend.”

While there are a few international players competing at Path to Glory, most athletes are Canadian. Some are members of the general public who have signed up and others – like Montreal champ Jayson and Saskatchewan champ Noah Corbett – won their travel to the event.

Corbett, who is from Saskatoon, is seeded 14th, a finish that would bring home $750; however, he feels strongly about his chances of winning even more.

“I historically have always placed above my seed, so that’s exciting,” said Corbett, whose player name is 2Scary.

Corbett got into esports tournaments in early 2019, thanks to an event put on by SKL Esports,  the Saskatchewan esports event production organization running Path to Glory.

Since then, Corbett has competed in around two dozen large tournaments, while also organizing his own weekly club at the University of Saskatchewan. He said those in-person events, which are open to the public every Wednesday, have created great friendships in the local scene.

“Not everyone is committed to trying to be the best,” he said. “The base community is coming to hang out and be with people who enjoy similar things.”

The Path to Glory tournament runs Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., then resumes with the Top 64 Saturday at 4 p.m. and Top 8 at 8 p.m.