ESPORTS Season Starts With a Bang!

The esports team moves into their new room. Junior Ryan Sturgill (upper left), Senior Gavin Leach (upper right) and Junior Amir Basmani carry in the only school provided gaming computers in the district.

Emmalee Harmon

The esports team moves into their new room. Junior Ryan Sturgill (upper left), Senior Gavin Leach (upper right) and Junior Amir Basmani carry in the only school provided gaming computers in the district.

By Mika Raring and Rachel Davis

A new type of competition has recently taken schools by storm in the form of esports. As the first school in the Edmonds School District to start an esports club and to be provided with the necessary computers, MTHS is at the beginning of the wave. 

Just recently, Terrace’s varsity team collected a win in their first competition against Lincoln High School.

Short for electronic sports, esports are video games played competitively, most often involving teams. However, playing esports is more than just gaming according to junior Ryan Sturgill, captain of the MTHS team Rocket League.

“Playing an esport involves not just playing video games but recognizing flaws in your play to improve yourself and the team,” Sturgill said.

As with any team sport, esports require coordination, communication and connection between players who work together to win the game. The games are usually set up with teams consisting of three to six players, each having a role based on their strengths depending on the game played. 

First introduced in South Korea during the early 2000s, esports have become an international phenomena, gaining millions of viewers and fans. International competitions, often including large cash prizes, allow players to climb the ranks of professional gaming. As the popularity of esports has grown, schools have begun to introduce their own teams.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Executive Board approved a two-year trial of a new sport/activity in 2020, allowing WIAA and partner Playfly Esports to offer esports with the competitive season in January.

“Esports is new,” Sturgill said. “We are the first and only school in the district to have high-quality gaming PCs given to us.” 

Computer science teacher Brandon Owings prompted the creation of the club, which started earlier this school year. The esports team is currently in the process of moving equipment to their very own gaming room, formerly a theater storage room in the STEM wing.

As the club works to recruit new members, the equipment is a huge draw.

Zoe Teran

“I saw the high quality equipment we get to use,” Sturgill said. “I like being able to compete for my school and playing high level games.”

MTHS currently has two esports teams, split into varsity, which consists of more experienced players, and another team that has players of all different skill levels. 

Right now they are playing in the WIAA Spring Season, meaning that they play other schools all across Washington in a 3-on-3 game once a week.

Varsity, named Rocket Hawks, competes in Rocket League, a game very similar to a virtual soccer game but using vehicles instead of people. The object of the game is to use teamwork to advance the ball down the field and score goals.

“[We] all have to be utility players which means we are all playing offensively and defensively,” Sturgill said. “But each of our personalities go into being on the team as well. All three of us on varsity have to have a good mindset or they might compromise the team.”

In their first game, the varsity team consisted of Sturgill, junior Jesse Kilgore and junior Amir Basmani, defeated the team from Seattle’s Lincoln High School. With their first game ending in a win, it seems the season is off to a good start despite minor setbacks.

Due to the internet issues during the past few weeks, MTHS was unable to play in the first part of the season, forced to forfeit those games. 

Now, however, it seems they are back on track.

Zoe Teran

Winning against Lincoln, who held the first place title, means that MTHS expects to end the regular season top three in the state. If they place high enough, which it seems they will, the varsity team will advance to the playoffs.

As the world of esports becomes more developed, it’s clear that there are many things students can learn from it. 

As team captain, Sturgill has learned how to lead a group, playing off of different skill sets in a way that makes the team one.

“It has been a lot of fun improving my skills at Rocket League and my teamwork skills,” he said. 

“We are able to play not just together in the same game but together as one entity.”