Maury County’s first competitive public school video game team ended its opening season this week with a strong performance in the semifinals.
The three-student Mt. Pleasant Middle School team set a solid precedent for the booming program, closing the season with 16 wins and 13 losses, competing from a distance in the popular Rocket League video game.
In the game, players compete in two three-member teams and take control of cars powered by boosters in a football game on wheels, for example.
Reaching the second installment of the semi-finals, the inaugural squad of students Camarii Flowers, Sam Andrews and George Clinkscale proved their worth against around 200 other teams from the United States, Canada and Mexico, many of whom represent top players. of a much larger level. Course of Study.
Despite losing their last four games of the season to Woodland High School in Streator, Illinois, the young team remain positive and optimistic for the coming spring in the months to come.
The final match, which took place virtually, was broadcast live on the popular video game streaming platform, Twitch.
Senior school district administrators, including Superintendent Michael Hickman, tuned in to the game at the school district central office.
“It’s crazy how it’s our first season, and we got into the playoffs,” said Andrews, who is only known to his competition by his gamertag, Kaos Beast. “At the start of the season, we were losing the game by 15 to 20 points and more, and we closed that gap and ended the season with more wins than losses. Even when we lose it was so much fun.
Andrews is the team’s most experienced player, accumulating more than a dozen hours in the game.
His teammates Flowers and Clinkscale started the season less familiar with the game.
“I feel like we did well,” said Flowers, who participated in the game without his own video game console and will continue to train through the offseason with a video game system on loan from his trainer. .
“I see myself working on my goal defense,” said Flowers, who plays the role of LeaveMeAlone.
Clinkscale shared the pride in himself and his teammates and their performances this season.
“Most of the games that we are doing this season have been very difficult,” said Clinkscale. “It’s surprising to me that we were able to get into the top 32.”
Clinkscale plays under the name MrAwsomeGMoney.
Eric Harvey, a social studies teacher at the college, launched the team this year with the goal of helping his students develop their cooperative and teamwork skills throughout their lives, while also empowering students to pursue their interest in the game.
The league is hosted by PlayVS, an amateur esports network that operates in 23 states and provinces in the United States and Canada at the high school level.
Using the PlayVS, teams can compete against each other using a regulated system on campus or virtually.
During the spring season of PlayVS, Harvey plans to expand the program by adding the popular soccer game Madden to the school’s competitive offerings.
Rocket League and Madden are both played professionally with jackpots in the millions.
The program provides students with a deeper insight into the more than $ 250 billion gambling industry.
Harvey envisions his students will one day go to college to study computer science and game design with a scholarship they could receive as an esports athlete.
In the four years that the National Federation of State High School Associations recognized esports as an official sport, more than 8,600 high schools have established video game teams across the United States.
More than $ 16 million in esports scholarships were awarded by US colleges in 2020.
As the season draws to a close, Harvey celebrates the successful launch of a new program that sets an example for the public school district.
In preparation for the upcoming spring season, Harvey plans to transform his classroom into a play-centric training space with blackout walls and color-changing LED lights to match the aesthetic of modern play.
“It’s great to see them come together, improve and play more as a team than individually,” said Harvey. “We played against very good teams. But they never came down. They continued to fight. We’ve improved over the season and made it to the playoffs. “
He said the season embodied the spirit of the little school and its students.
“It shows that our kids are amazing,” Harvey said. “They are also good at the things they think about. It is another way of helping to bring positive things to our school and to our city.”
Contact Mike Christen at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.