Esports Comeback

Last year was difficult for most activities in Richmond High School. This was the case for the Esports team which didn’t have the chance to play. 

This year is different as the team is able to reassemble and show their capabilities through tournaments. 

“It’s really cool because when we first started the team it was really hard to navigate through COVID,” English teacher Tia McCargish said. “I have never coached anything before so it was a big learning process. And now that our team is back to competing it is exciting.’’

With the team back together different goals have been set both academically and mentally. 

“A big thing that I think every Esports coach is interested in is helping their students to get scholarships into college,” McCargish said. 

“I know that a lot of my kids are interested in it, we all know that when we play a game we have that joke of gamer words and gamer moments. I want to encourage people to constructively communicate and I have seen a lot of that, especially with my league team.”

 “The team captain Zavier Mills is really good at giving feedback, like ‘you need to time your ULT better’ or ‘you need to aim better’. I think that is really valuable and I want all my Esports members to learn that really good communication skill and managing temper.’’

The members of the team have goals too along with having fun.

“Honestly, I just want to see everyone improve and personally, I have a goal to hit platinum this season,” senior Zavier Mills said. “Everybody on the team is very capable of hitting higher rank.”

Luckily they don’t face difficulties finding opponents and they are able to play against others from all over the country.

“We joined an organization [Play VS] that matches us up with similar schools all over the country,’’ Math Teacher Frank Brattain said. “For example, we had a match against a high school in Rhode Island. We are gonna have a match against a high school in Pennsylvania.” 

“We do not have to expend a lot of energy finding opponents.’’ 

 Players can communicate with each other and make bonds through playing. 

“Through the Play VS program we can get chat rooms with the coaches, with the support of the people that organize the tournament and help to overcome issues,” Brattain said.

However, it’s difficult sometimes to find opponents due to the kind of games that are played.

“A lot of kids are interested in Call of Duty (COD), but I have not been able to set up anything because the Indiana Esports League really does not have many COD competitions at the high school level,’’ McCargish said. “There is professional-level competition. Because with COD there is more realistic content. With Fortnite, it’s more cartoony and you can get away with that more.’’  

With more people participating this year the Esports team has a variety of games in it.

“We have a League of Legends (LOL) team and that’s probably our strongest and most consistent team and they put a lot of practice at home,” McCargish said. “They are really strong and they just play LOL. Our Fortnite players also play overwatch. So the games we have available are: Rainbow six, Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, Apex and Valorant are the main ones. The most dedicated players are mostly for LOL and Fortnite.”

But that comes with challenges for the coaches

“So it is really challenging tackling these three teams but also really interesting since I wasn’t a LOL player, I do not really play MOBAS,” McCargish said. “It was challenging for me to learn about MOBAS, watching some Twitch streamers that play LOL and talking to my roommates that play LOL. I’ve done a lot of learning since I am an RPG player.”

Those challenges can have a positive aspect as players are encouraged to help each other especially when they are not playing. 

‘’Last year the team had 6 consistent people, this year there are 13-14 and that’s really cool,” McCargish said. “But another challenge comes with that because we have 13 gaming pieces in the esports room. Sometimes we have trade-offs and encourage the teammates that aren’t playing to give constructive feedback to the members that are playing which is really important. Because we all know that watching sports, playing games or watching ourselves playing is how we get better and having teammates helping you with that.”