By Cameron Pitzak
This will be the first year Miramonte High School will offer a varsity eSports team at the school.
Until recently this idea was unheard of, but now, many colleges recognize eSports as valuable and viable. Many colleges offer eSports scholarships, which has been further pushing the viability of eSports. In the past ten years, the eSports scene has grown tremendously. For example, the 2021 League of Legends World Championship is going to have a prize pool of $1,000,000, the League of Legends Championship Series will be broadcast on major platforms like ESPN, and there are plenty of other regional tournaments pro players compete in. There are many games with huge eSports scenes such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege. All of these games have multimillion dollar competitive scenes along with sponsorships for players and teams as well.
With these programs growing more and more, many put continued pressure on the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which is the entity that manages and approves all varsity sports in school, to offer eSports as varsity sports. While many Miramonte community members show a lot of excitement for the program, it’s off to a rocky start. According to Miramonte’s counselor and eSports team coach Mrs. Conners, “They are trying to build the plane as they are flying it,” citing the fact that the CIF hasn’t previously managed any eSports team or league, so it has chosen to outsource the management to a company called PlayVS. PlayVS is currently cooperating with over 21,000 schools and managing eSports leagues for high school and college teams all over the country.
Conners also talked about wanting to take people from the Miramonte eSports club and building the program off that. “There are several students on the club side of things; we are trying to find a way to mesh the varsity team and the club together… We are encouraging students to try something new, you don’t have to be good [at the title you choose to play].” This is because she wants to get as many players on the team as possible so they can really get the program off the ground, even though many students don’t even play most of the games being offered. For example, only two students showed interest in the League of Legends team.
One of the biggest issues is that through PlayVS, there is a very limited selection of games, including League of Legends, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, along with a few other smaller titles. The biggest competitive eSports games in the world like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, Overwatch, and Fortnite aren’t available for teams to play at a varsity level. It’s most likely that PlayVS doesn’t allow them because most of those games are rated mature, mostly for the shooting and violence in the games. Although these games are popular for their intense strategy, team play, and skill based gameplay, schools dislike them because they see guns and violence. However, there is still a lot of excitement and dedicated people who want to see the plan succeed. Conners said Miramonte has already assembled a full Rocket League team and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team. It is also possible that playing on the team in the spring will actually count towards PE credits for graduating, though that is something that won’t be decided until next year.