The AHCCS Esports High School Team has given some of our very own students a taste of what Esports competition is all about. The team spent this semester participating in North America Scholastic Esports Federation’s (NASEF) main Overwatch tournament. The entire team was able to learn the game’s complex strategies that they would need to go on and win 5 out of 6 matches during their regular season. This allowed them to qualify to be the #5 seed out of 33 teams in the Overwatch playoffs tournament, making it to round 3 of 5 in the quarterfinals. Mr. Flick, Esports General Manager, shares how proud he is of how far the team went this season.
I was really impressed with how we were able to keep adding players to the starting team and keep getting better,” Mr. Flick says. “The team practiced with their coach and reviewed clips of the team they played next. I hope they feel good about their first season of Overwatch and the success they earned.
Team member Chris Gibson has been playing computer games since he was about seven before moving on to competitive games. He and his cousin Nick, another Esports team member, have played Overwatch and League of Legends competitively together even before joining the AHCCS Esports team. The school’s team gave them the chance to not only compete in a major tournament, but also some extra credit tournaments like the Rocket League Tournament at Comicon for Kids. Nick shares that he loves getting to have fun with cool people who share his interests. His cousin Chris agrees.
When I was told there was an Esports team, I thought it would be a good social experience,” Chris says. “When we won our first Overwatch match, we had three new players. Even though they didn’t have much experience playing, they still got that great feeling of what it was like to win, and I could tell they understood that feeling and had a great time.
Much like Chris, team member Kyle Julian didn’t need much convincing to join the Overwatch Esports team. Through the encouragement of guidance counselor Mrs. Botes, Kyle was already sold when he heard he could be part of a league that plays against other schools.
I've always gamed and been a competitive person, so being part of a group whose goal is also winning matches is super enticing to me,” Kyle says. “I love the social aspect too, but I don't put countless hours into this every day just for fun. That’s a bonus, but I would love to become a professional in a recognized Tier 1 game someday. That would be the dream for me.
Overwatch practices happened twice a week this season with the guidance of two professional coaches. All team members still dedicated time to play with each other almost every day, while also practicing on their own. In order to be and stay on the AHCCS Esports team, all team players need to be passing all their classes and keeping up with their schoolwork. Team member Chris agrees that this requires the team to count on one another and perform their best, in the game as well as outside the game.
When you’re on a sports team in public school, you can get kicked off your team if you don’t keep your grades up, no matter how great of a player you are,” Chris says. “This brings morale down. In Esports, that's a big thing for us because if you have low morale going into a match, you’re going to perform badly.
Team member Kyle agrees how important it is for all of them to continue to receive good grades. He has experienced firsthand how being on the Esports team can help you in more ways than one. Since joining the team, Kyle has found it easier to focus on his schoolwork and his grades have all gone up!
Unequivocally, yes, being a part of this team has helped me academically,” Kyle says. “If I were to become ineligible, I would be wasting everyone else’s time. It’s not just affecting me anymore, so I make it a priority to get my schoolwork done.
Esports continues to become a growing business, giving avid gamers or just game lovers several avenues to get involved in the industry. Esports is projected to be bigger than it is now, potentially even larger than some traditional sports leagues. Music that’s inspired by games, brands creating designs inspired by certain game characters, and the casters who explain moves as the game is happening all show that the culture surrounding the sport is making it global. Fans can watch competitions on cable TV now or through a streaming website called Twitch so it can be watched across different nations. Team member Chris agrees that this is a sport that offers cultural diversity, which is why he has future aspirations to become an Esports manager or coach someday. His teammate Gage shares these feelings.
I think it’s important for people who want to work behind the scenes of Esports should have knowledge of the games or be an avid player, which is why I’m getting all the experience I can playing now,” Gage says. “Companies like Louis Vuitton are already collaborating with the game League of Legends to develop clothing skins that you can buy as cosmetics now. There really is so many career possibilities if you’re interested in the Esports scene.
Gage’s mom, Mrs. Botes, is not just cheering him on during matches, but also is a Guidance counselor here at AHCCS. She feels fortunate enough to have gotten to know the entire team on a different level, not just to call them about keeping their grades up. She believes the team doesn’t just play games together, but they also encourage each other to keep their grades up. As a guidance counselor, this is something she loves to see!
Esports has been a great experience for my son,” Mrs. Botes says. “Whenever I tell people that he’s in cyber school, most people ask about social interaction. With all the clubs at AHCCS, it’s easy to get involved. As a mom, it's been great to see Gage make friends with common interests.
Second Esports General Manager, Mrs. Barbour, shares with us that while she is still learning the game, she has enjoyed watching her team play in tournaments. She understands a little more with each match, and it’s been rewarding for her to see the team grow over the past year.
All the players have just melted together to be a great group,” Mrs. Barbour says. “They help each other and don’t believe any one of them has to be the leader or in charge. They work well together, they win well together, and they lose well together.
Congratulations, AHCCS Esports High School Team! We are all so proud of what you accomplished this season and can’t wait to cheer you on again this Spring!
Please contact Mr. Flick at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about our Esports teams. The high school team has already begun their Spring season game, League of Legends, while the middle school team starts practicing Rocket League this week.