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West Linn High math teacher competed in video game tournament in Seattle over Labor Day weekend

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sean Shevlin and his son, Ryland, at the Summer Skirmish Tournament. Sean Shevlin's strategy was to wait and hide — a practice fans of first-person-shooter games call "camping." He didn't want to be killed and he didn't want to hurt anyone.

In the virtual world of Fortnite Battle Royale — an online first-person-shooter video game that resembles a similar feat to "The Hunger Games" series where the last person left wins — Shevlin, a West Linn High School math teacher, found himself crouching in bushes and hiding from other players in an attempt to win the Summer Skirmish Tournament. However, he never had plans to go for gold.

"I'm a terrible player. My son is way better than me," he said. "I have a strategy and my strategy is to hide."

But more than anything, his appreciation of the game bonds him to his son, and even his students.

PAX West in Seattle hosted the Summer Skirmish competition every weekend for eight weeks.

Each competition was Friday to Sunday and was open to the first 300 players to register on the site each day. Competitors played in three groups of 100 every day and the top 32 in each group qualified to play again at night. The top 33 players at the end of the night qualified to advance to Monday's grand finals for a seven-match brawl.

The weekend winners each received $225,000.

Shevlin, who signed up as "Youngprism98912" initially heard of the event via Twitter and decided to take his 8-year-old son Ryland, an avid Fortnite player, to Seattle over Labor Day weekend. The two drove up Saturday, spent the night and were in line Sunday just after 6 a.m. When the father-son duo realized players had to be 16 or over to play, Shevlin took one for the team.

"What I realized in that first game — I think I got killed around 35 (the 35th person) — I realized that first game it was going to be a little harder with these people. When you play at home, it's easier to hide and people can't find you."

Shevlin said the groups played two games in the morning and players gained points if they killed other players or finished in the top 10.

During the second morning game, Shevlin shifted his strategy.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ryland Shevlin watched the livestream while his father played in the Fortnite tournament. He was hiding in a bush, per usual, but was forced to make a move because a storm circle was coming. He had a special tool that, if thrown, puts the player in the air so the player can fly away from the storm.

"I was able to get in another bush," he said.

He continued this leapfrogging move until 12 people were left.

"I was waiting as long as I could. The next circle I had to move and so I made my move trying to hide while I'm running as fast as I can," he said. "I was waiting and hid behind a house. I heard someone in the house so I just sort of waited and all of a sudden it went from 12 to eight people left."

He placed seventh and made it into the evening games — which consisted of four games that were livestreamed.

"My son was shocked," he said.

Also during the evening games, four famous gamers were invited to play. But unfortunately, Shevlin did not make top 33.

Shevlin said one of the highlights was being interviewed with his son. His interview was played between games during the livestream and Ninja, a famous gamer, was doing commentary while Shevlin's interview was playing. A compilation video on YouTube that includes this clip reached about 1.3 million views.

"It was pretty fun, I did not expect it to be that big. I thought we'd just show up, we'd play, my son would have fun. .. I did not think it would be like we were going to get interviewed, it would get televised. It was just crazy stuff," Shevlin said. "It was a fun little bonding thing (for my son and I)."

Shevlin said his math students who were following him during the tournament found a livestream chat on Reddit — a web content rating and discussion website — that contained commentary like, "The math teacher is still in the bush" and "The math teacher just got killed."

Shevlin also uses Fortnite-inspired lessons to engage with his students in the classroom. During a graph and geometry lesson, he took a Fornite map of the island so when students plotted points, they were using Fornite places and names.

"They sort of laugh and chuckle and are a little more into it if I make the problem a little more fun like that," he said. "This game will eventually die. It won't be as popular anymore so I'll have to change my lessons again. I try to find something they're into, (that) they can find more meaning with than the normal stuff you always give them."

West Linn Tidings Reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281. SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ryland Shevlin, left, and his dad Sean Shevlin pose with one of the skins at PAX West during the  Summer Skirmish Tournament.


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