Stadiums filled with screaming fans, cheering on competitors in a worldwide competition. Those things are usually associated with sports, but believe it or not, it’s something competitive gaming (more commonly known as esports) has as well. Esports is a huge industry, with the most popular games attracting over 200 million viewers.
John Sessler, a sophomore on the League of Legends esports team explains what eSports club is like.
“It’s like regular sports except as a video game and people play it competitively and stuff just like a regular sport,” Sessler said.
Esports have occupied some of the largest stadiums in the world, including Seoul World Cup Stadium in Korea, the site of the 2002 FIFA World Cup final, and Madison Square Garden in New York. However, eSports isn’t just for the professionals. There are smaller tournaments all over the world where amateurs can come together and improve their skills with like-minded players.
Playing video games professionally would be a dream come true for millions of kids, but it can be difficult for those who don’t know where to start.
“I think it would be one of the coolest things to be on one of those stages and be able to do what they do for a living,” junior Dalton Swaino said. The High School Starleague (HSL) is an organization that allows high school teams from around the country compete with one another. The HSL offers several games, but the biggest is League of Legends, with about 1,600 teams. Last year they competed for over $35,000 in scholarships. Only the top four teams win scholarships, which motivates players to try their absolute hardest.
Teams consist of five or six players, depending on the game. Just like in any other sport, players need to practice as a team regularly to improve their teamwork and communication. According to the official HSL website, the winning team of the 2015 League of Legends tournament, Temple City High School, say that they won by having better strategy and teamwork than the other team, even though the opposing team might have had a better player or gear. Being a part of an eSports team is a commitment, and each member has to treat it seriously or risk losing their spot on the team.
“It’s a good way to get the students involved with eSports and then it allows the good players to get rewarded for the time that they put into the game and how well they perform,” Swaino said.
Winning an HSL tournament opens opportunities for sponsorships, and allows professional eSports coaches scout for up-and-coming players. Many of the first place teams have gone on to play for the college of their choice, often times with multiple teammates attending the same college.