Going to Town on Esports
Esports are a form of sports competition using video games. They often take the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions.
One of the most popular Esports games is League of Legends. The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had over 100 million unique viewers, peaking at a concurrent viewership of 44 million, with a minimum prize pool of US$2.5 million.
The popularity of League of Legends has extended to New Zealand. Events have been broadcast on Sky TV and this year College Sport Wellington in collaboration with Victory Up and Riot Games sanctioned the sport as an official code.
In July, a League of Legends pilot championships was held, and an online Wednesday afternoon league with two divisions is presently ongoing.
St Pats Town won the first pilot championship and have maintained their high standards in the Wednesday afternoon league. In the pilot competition they beat eight schools en-route to the title including Scots College, Kapiti College, St Patrick’s College, Silverstream and Wainuiomata High School in the final.
The St Pats Town team who won the pilot champions and are unbeaten in the Wednesday league are all year 13 students. They are Zac Hunt, Maren Ishak, Jacob George, Daniel Lozano, Joseph Maniwan, Joseph Millmow, and captain Ieuan Esteban (a handball and basketball player). The teacher in charge is Luka Velebit. College Sport Wellington caught up with Ieuan and Luka to find out more about the League of Legends fuss.
What is the appeal of the game?
Ieuan: If you have a computer and internet its free to play. I first heard about it in 2013 and started playing seriously in 2018. It is essentially a fighting game where you work with four other players to try and destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a structure that lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures. It usually takes about half an hour to play and for me personally it helps kill time and interact with others.
Luka: I spent far too much time at University playing; it was a great way to stay connected with friends from all over NZ and the world. It is a game that combines strategy, teamwork and requires fast reactions – skills which are all transferable to traditional sports, too.
How do you win the game?
Ieuan: A lot of teamwork is necessary when playing the game, just like any other team sport. All five players must strategize with each other to put themselves at an advantage and win the game. It requires a lot of thinking and quick reaction time to be good. You must also be able to adjust to different situations in the game as not every game is going to be the same as the other.
Luka: It requires teamwork, quick thinking, and a clear definition of roles. There is a ADC; Top, Mid, Jungler and Support player. The top player is always on the offensive, but the others work in ambushing, support and tactics. The roles are not set in stone but at a higher-level analysis of players would be done, this is not such much a feature of school play yet.
What are some of the challenges?
Ieuan: The main challenges really were just from an admin standpoint, sorting out computers at school and getting boys connected to the competition website and discord server. Another challenge was getting the boys involved. E sports is something that is still very foreign to a lot of people and some still don’t see it as a “sport.” A few of us boys are also capable “traditional sportsmen” and it is good to see that college sport has recognised this other form of sport and that it is growing very rapidly. When we first heard about the opportunity do this competitively for the school, we were all incredibly grateful for the chance. We never expected something that we do in our spare time for fun to turn into something that would be run by college sport and end up in victory. Hopefully, this carries on in years to come and maybe new games can be added into the mix to catch other students’ interests.
Luka: Schools are set up to stop students playing games on computers. There were some teething issues in ensuring the game could run on the school computers. Some teachers were concerned about encouraging boys to be in front of screens, but the competitive and social aspects of the E-sport made for a good argument for students to be involved. As with any sport, consistent practice is a must if you want to play at a high level, some parents and teachers still hold the view that this is merely a game and a waste of time. Convincing them otherwise can be a challenge.
For more information visit the CSW Esport page here.
-Story courtesy of College Sport Media