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Sports Column: Spearheading eSports

By Braeden Lamb

We are Valorant. We are fighters!

Every other match, I feel I hear that voiceline reach out to us before proceeding to attempt to score victories for our team. We give and receive callouts, refine our motor skills and muscle memory. We celebrate our frags, clutches and 1000 IQ plays. 

I am a player on Snider’s Valorant Gold eSports team. Snider started forming its eSports teams in the later half of the 2019-2020 school year, but most of the development was delayed with the closing of the district. This school year Snider’s eSports arena has been completed and is now in full swing. 

With 20 complete gaming setups established, safety precautions in place and a looming sense of obligation to bring success to the Panther name solidified, more than 50 players practice and compete five days of the school week. Apart from having the ability to competitively play their favorite games, including Rocket League, Overwatch, Hearthstone, League of Legends and Valorant, with wonderful teammates, there’s more at stake to incite players to perform at the best of their ability.

As eSports teams competitively gaming becomes more popular globally, more establishments are rewarding those who prevail. According to ispo.com, whole tournaments draw thousands and sometimes millions of viewers to see which team comes out on top, with tournaments for CS:GO and Fortnite topping the popular charts. Winners take home millions of dollars for besting their enemy in a game.

On the more localized level, more colleges are starting to offer scholarships from playing on their eSports teams. That means students and players like us can potentially win thousands of dollars of scholarship money  for dominating a team playing in Minnesota or any state in the country. Even now, at the high school level, the tournaments we participate in already offer scholarships for our victories. So just know that the next time someone says you play video games too much, don’t feel completely bad about it – it could potentially pay for your college education.

Apart from tangible rewards, eSports has other effects on its players. Competitive gaming requires sharp focus, coordinated teamwork, concise callouts, quick decision making and other useful skills that can help anyone anywhere in life. No team has a perfect win/loss record, so this helps teach players that losses are normal in life and how to improve from each one. Already, our team’s performance has improved significantly in just a handful of weeks.  We’ve learned valuable lessons and most likely have changed as people. At least I have.

Now, let’s talk details for those who are more gamer-sided. Each of the gaming set-ups is a Lenovo Thinkstation with a Core i7 9700 CPU, 8GB RAM, and a GTX 1660Ti 6GB GPU in terms of important specs. Impressive in its context, right? 

We also have Corsair RGB keyboards, mice and headsets and black and gold gaming chairs. The whole thing screams efficiency and power under one name.

Moving on from hardware and peripherals, games begin on each team’s set day almost always at 5 p.m. Team games like Valorant can practice beforehand. The Discord call seethes with tension during the queue, and primal curiosity and excitement once we match against the other team from any corner of the United States. 

Once we begin our match, our expressions are glossed over with determination and a desire to perform to the best of our names. For Valorant, we compete for 30 minutes to sometimes an hour, depending on how close the game is. Since we’re deep into the season now, we are matched against other teams that have approximately the same win/loss ratio as us. And this skill-based matchmaking really does work well – our last few games were close, within 2 rounds each. 

However, the performance of one singular player cannot determine the outcome of the match.  Bless the gaming gods above, top fragging on our team nearly every single match is a feeling unlike any other. Unfortunately, going double positive at the end of the day doesn’t make a difference if we’re beat 9-13. Kills and aces don’t win rounds. Teamwork does. Aside from the fact that this is totally not a plug to showcase what it’s like to carry, this goes to show that we need to all be on the same page and reach peak performance to maximize victories. And that is how we win in the Snider name.

This first year of eSports at Snider has resulted in outcomes I could not have imagined if I tried to beforehand. I’m proud to be a part of the teams that pioneer the foundation of eSports, knowing that it is sure to grow with time. The timing of these opportunities couldn’t be better for us, so we thank the coaches, the sponsors and those who support us.

 

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