Parker Farrand and Madelynn Page

          After the world faced the harsh realities of the pandemic, socializing with others was no longer normal. Everyone had to find ways to save connections with families and friends and had to adapt to the constant loneliness the pandemic created. Many people found a sense of normalcy online, and some even found ways to build connections in the world of online gaming. Due to the lack of sports events occurring around the world, some found entertainment in online gaming competitions. According to Insider Intelligence, esports viewers increased by 11.5 percent from 2021 to 2022 as competitions began to rise in popularity around the world. With no signs of slowing down, the gaming industry continues to expand to provide a way for others to connect online.

          In fall 2021, Keaton Squires created the first competitive gaming club here at HSE called Esports. Squires saw the need for the club as other programs around the country continued to compete in worldwide competitions. The club is like any other sports team, with junior varsity and varsity positions for the players. The varsity players compete in Overwatch and Valorant, and the junior varsity team plays Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League and League of Legends. The varsity Overwatch players performed well enough to make their way to Florida for Nationals in the spring of 2022.

          Senior Vincent Ostrowski, a member of the Overwatch team who joined for the spring season, shares his experience integrating with the team. “It’s interesting watching our team succeed,” Ostrowski said. “[I feel] it is just chance that HSE had enough people who all played the same game and are good at it.”   

          One of their senior players, Zachary Beason, has been with the Esports club for two seasons now and plays for the Overwatch team. Beason is excited for the future of the teams and commented on a drastic improvement he has seen in the past year.“Compared to last year, our Esports team, especially the Overwatch team, was severely underdeveloped. We didn’t even have a team for both semesters,” Beason said. “This year, we have found some great players and we have improved as a team.”

          After having won the Atlantic side of the U.S. tournament for Overwatch last semester, Beason and his teammates will be going to Florida in June to play at the Entertaining and Sports Programming Network Wide World of Sports Complex, in the national Esports tournament. Having received D3 offers from various schools throughout the country, Beason is confident in himself, and his teammates will perform to the best of their abilities this summer and win the National tournament.

          Junior Calvin Hoang, coach of the JV team, shared about why the team is more than just playing video games. “Other than playing games I think it provides kids with an ability to work in a team setting,”Hoang said. “It requires collaboration, a skill much needed for real life.” With a promising future ahead for the club, the Esports team will bring home national success for years to come. Story by Parker Farrand and Madelynn Page. Photo contributed.