eSports is on the rise and is bigger and brighter than ever. There is a lot of money to be made in the professional video game arena. Like most professional sports, you need to start young and practice as well as compete locally to get the experience you need. The same is true with Professional eSports. Local schools are now able to run tournaments and organize events for experiences, prizes and scholarships that can carry over to the college years and possible professional opportunities. There are some schools that even teach the art of professional gaming as well as learning the skills needed to compete.
I happen to attend a local high school eSports tournament in my town and was inspired to write about it and spread the word for this organization. Headed by Senior Cameron Whiteside, Warren High School, located in Gurnee, IL has started an organization for local high school students to compete in the first ever eSports league at the school. With the approval of the school and the HSEL (High School eSports League), Cameron organized a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament on the Nintendo Switch.
This would be the first organized tournament Warren would run and the turnout did not disappoint. With only 2 weeks of spreading the work and putting up posters in the school, which had a QR code on it to allow students to sign up. The Super Smash Bros. entries were over 40 contestants. I was very impressed by the turnout on such short notice as well as it being the first event held in the school.
I sat down with Cameron to find out more about how this started and how does he see the future of eSports in his high school as well as his future in eSports. Cameron explained to me that this vision of running an organized event started around October 2018. The school did have a “digital gaming” club in years past, but that would just consist on students meeting up online to compete for a small local game between friends. Cameron wanted to see this vision turned into something bigger and more competitive in a gaming room where everyone can physically be present. Cameron searched online and realized High School eSports was becoming popular around the country. He thought to himself, “Why can’t I start one?”. So, Cameron asked around the school and enough positive feedback to take his vison to the next step. With some help from his friends, they wrote out a Constitution, found a teacher to sponsor, and formed the club. The Constitution is more for administration to prove the eSports club is legit. Cameron got the high school to partner with the High School eSports League, a national organization which allows high schools to come together and participate in tournaments for real world prizes and scholarship money. As part of the HSEL organization, you can compete formally in the following 9 games: League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, Rainbow Six, Rocket League, Smash Bros Ultimate, Hearthstone, Dragon Ball Z – Fighterz and Counter Strike: Global Offense. You can learn more on the website, https://www.highschooleSportsleague.com/.
I was able to be at the first tournament for Warren High School, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. Since this is a new eSports league to the school, volunteers who help Cameron out, donated their own TVs, game systems and controllers to be shared within the students. Students were able to bring their own systems and controllers if they wanted to practice or play a friendly game while they are waiting for their turn to play. The other Warren eSports members who donated their time to organize and setup this event are seniors Spenser He, Cameron Seider, Jisoo Kim, Kael Valdez and junior Jackson Brewer. Located in the Black Box Theatre at Warren High School, this event was well planned and setup in a professional manner with many TV’s, tables, projectors, power cords and an official tournament bracket that was run off a laptop and projected to a screen high above so everyone can view the standings. The group was even able to offer soft drinks and snacks for the participants thanks to a care package given by the school. Prizes were also offered for the top finalists.
What is the future of Warren eSports for Cameron and friends? Cameron tells me, “Hope is that the junior representative, Jackson, is able to pass on consulships to others to keep the participation going. Having solid leadership at Warren ensures the eSports league will continue”. Cameron plans on going to Michigan Technological University in the U.P. but he will keep in touch with Jackson and others through Discord to make sure things are running smoothly and if any help is needed, he will offer any guidance he can.
1) Manny Martinez: PRIZE: Cloud II HyperX Headset and $25 Amazon gift card
2) Jisoo Kim: PRIZE: Cloud II HyperX Headset and Drawstring bag
3) Cameron Duffy: PRIZE: Drawstring Bag and Funko Pop
4) Javan Turner: PRIZE: Funko Pop
5) tie: Kael Valdez and Jacob Bode: PRIZE: Pen and Sticker