eSports season concludes first year at EHS

Published 8:45 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

BY CHAD SALYER
Elizabethton High School’s new eSports team has just concluded its first-ever season of play. eSports is competitive video gaming that can take many forms.
There are many different games that can be played in official leagues and several leagues that accept high school teams. The largest national eSports league currently is PlayVS which has hundreds of schools across the nation playing various games in a pre-season, regular season, and finally a postseason tournament.
EHS eSports team enrolled in PlayVS competition officially in Sept. 2021 with five groups: a single five-person League of Legends team, three separate three-person Rocket League Teams, and eight individual competitors in Fortnite.
League of Legends is a strategic map control game where 5 EHS players led by Captain Caleb Mindemann faced off against five opponents.
The League team was composed of a couple of veteran players (Caleb and Josh Mindemann) and a few players who were new to the game (Hayden Humphries, Gabe Brown, and Collin Hartley).
The team was all freshmen with the exception of one eighth-grader. So, they were young, to say the least. They faced an uphill battle as the game has a high learning curve and the competition was very good.
In spite of those challenges, the team finished with five wins and nine losses. The anticipation is this team will be much stronger moving forward.
Rocket League might be one of the most exciting eSports in existence. It can be described as “Soccer with Cars,” but it is such a deep and complex game that a simple description doesn’t do it justice.
A huge percentage of young people play Rocket League casually and EHS had a large group of students who showed interest in playing the game in official competitions.
This game is also very challenging to learn, but there were two groups of three students who were high-ranked veteran players and were able to seamlessly transition to competitive play.
Rocket League Team A was led by team captain Alex Hurley and included Gabe Sexton and Marcus Stallard. This team had an amazing start to the season at 9-0.
The problem this created was that the team’s matchmaking stats became very high and because the league was a national league, they proceeded to face some of the top teams in the entire country for the rest of the season.
Despite this, they finished the season at 13 wins and 12 losses and made it into the postseason tournament. At #63 seed though, they were forced to play the number two team in the nation in EHS’s first-ever eSports postseason game.
Despite a valiant effort by the team, they lost this matchup, but making it into the postseason as a new team in a new sport is a great achievement in and of itself.
Rocket League Team B was led by team captain Conley Stevens and included Josh Stalcup and Sam Hyder. This team had a slower start but got better and better as the season went on.
The team’s final regular-season record was 14 wins and 9 losses. This allowed them a better, but still challenging postseason playoff matchup.
As the #39 seed, they were matched up against the #26 team in the nation from Mandan, North Dakota. Through determined play and good mechanics, EHS’s B team pulled off the upset and made it to the second round of the tournament.
There they faced the number seven team and were ultimately defeated in spite of a hard-fought match. Again, though making it to the postseason in spite of the challenges they faced was a significant achievement.
Rocket League Team C was led by team captain Sydnee McLellan and included Aiden Lingerfelt and Nate Cox. This group was new to the game and often were greatly mismatched against the national level opponents, but found a way to pull out several wins and wound up at 9 wins and 12 losses for the season.
The Fortnite group of players was led by team captain Brandon Miller and participated in a national tournament in the PlayVS league.
The competition was extremely high as many cash prizes were being awarded to top players. EHS’s team played well but were all ultimately eliminated. In spite of the loss, it was a great experience for them to see the level of talent that is present at the national level.
Not everyone is cut out for the traditional sports, and eSports gave EHS students another option to be a part of something and to feel the sense of accomplishment team successes can bring.
It was a great experience for all the players and coaches and EHS eSports will get nothing but better in years to come!