It is however, the latest sport to be approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), as well as the National Association of Collegiate Esports. And NOW, Esports (electronic sports) has found its way to 16 schools in the Kern High School District (KHSD).
This year the schools will compete in the video game League of Legends (LOL as it is often referred to). Tournament matches take place on an imaginary game map called Summoner’s Rift, where players choose their champions and engage in a 5 on 5 battle, fighting the enemy team to destroy towers - along the way to and - guarding the enemy nexus. Once players reach the enemy nexus, the goal is to destroy it and win the match.
The 2019 Highland Varsity Esports Team
Players rely on skills using strategy, quickness and precision as they make near instantaneous decisions to affect the outcomes of games. Teams must plan and goal set, collaborate and cooperate, and effectively communicate in order to win matches. In addition to a team-oriented mindset, League of Legends fosters respect, discipline, responsibility, positive attitudes and resilience.
“Playing video games in high school! SERIOUSLY?” I hear you asking. YES!! Not only are these student-athletes collaborating in a team environment (as mentioned above), but colleges are now offering scholarships. Those colleges include (but are not limited to): UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, NYU, University of Utah, Robert Morris University, Stephens College, Indiana Tech, Miami (of Ohio), and more, while many, many other colleges feature Esports in their schools. According to ESPN (online) there are now 125 colleges featuring Varsity Esports programs.
In the most recent League of Legends World Championships in 2018, (the eighth world championship for LOL), the 1st place prize money approached nearly $2.5 million with total prize money for all players topping $6 million and total viewers exceeding 100 million. According to Forbes Magazine online, Esports is expected to generate more than $1.5 billion in revenue by 2021.
Spearheaded by Paul Mathis (BHS), Justin Smith (North HS) and Richard Ruiz (Ridgeview), Cade Brummer (South) and Jude Hopkins (Golden Valley), Esports has now expanded to 16 teams divided into two Leagues. League 1 features: Golden Valley, Frontier, BHS, Nueva, Vista West, Stockdale, Tierra Del Sol and Vista. Golden Valley Varsity is currently in 1st Place at 6-0 followed by BHS at 4-3. League 2 features: Highland, North, Arvin, East Ridgeview, South, West and Shafter. At 6-0, Highland holds 1st place Varsity followed closely by 6-1 North, and the rest of the league all with 4 wins. On Wednesday (Match Day) of each week a Varsity Match will be Livestreamed.
February 6 - Week 1: Highland vs Shafter (Scrimmage)
February 13 - Week 2: Arvin vs. Tierra Del Sol
February 20 - Week 3: Ridgeview vs. BHS (last year’s championship rematch)
February 27 - Week 4: Stockdale vs. West
March 6 - Week 5: Shafter vs. North
March 13 - Week 6: Arvin vs. South
March 20 - Week 7: South vs North (rivalry)
March 27 - Week 8: Shafter vs. East
April 3 - Week 9: Tierra Del Sol vs. Golden Valley
April 10 - Week 10: Vista vs. Vista West
April 24 - Week 11: Arvin vs. West
This season will have two special events:
- Saturday, April 6th, North High School will host The League of Stars Blind Pick Scramble. This event is going to be a lot of fun. Coaches will select 15 student athletes from each school to compete in a Large Blind Pick Scramble at North High. Students will list their school, name, summoner name, and their favorite position and the backup to that (Top, Mid, ADC, Jungle, Support). The student’s names will be randomly drawn and they will be placed in teams of 5. This will create teams comprised of student-athletes of different talent levels and from different schools. Theoretically every student should have an equal chance to win the event in this double elimination format. There will be computers for every player, and student-athletes should be playing for about 7 or 8 hours straight! The North Coach has planned for a concession stand if students want to buy food. Students should arrive at North by 8:30 am, Games will start at 9:00 am.
- The season will culminate Saturday, April 27th with the KHSD League Championship - an all day event with over 200 student athletes participating in an arena like setting at North High School. North High will host ALL Varsity and ALL JV Teams from all schools, as well as the Top 8 Frosh/Soph Schools. This tournament will be seeded and feature a single elimination bracket in a Best 2 of 3 format playing League of Legends using the Summoner’s Rift game map. This event will include consolation brackets all day so students should be engaged for the duration of the event. Time estimates are as follows:
- Elite Eight: 8:30 am to 11:00 am
- Final Four: 11:15 am to 1:45 pm
- Final Match-up: 2 pm to 4:30 pm
- At 5 pm when the tournament is over all games will be shut down and we will hold the Final Match-up between the Varsity Winner of League 1 and the Varsity Winner of League 2. The new North High Gym will be set up with surround sound, big projector screens in an arena like atmosphere. We will be using the projectors to run preliminary Varsity match-ups all day so if you want to invite your family to watch the students play it would be great!
- This event is expected to be the biggest Esports event ever hosted in Kern County. Principals, district officials, local news, and plenty of people will be on hand at this event capping a fantastic season.