Picture this familiar scenario: A parent takes their 4th trip up the stairs to a child’s room, anger slowly starting to rise within. There, sitting in an orchestra of lights and sound, is a young teenager engulfed in another round of their favorite video game.
It’s dinner time in the household, yet the only appetizing thing on the menu is another five minutes to enjoy the sweet sound of victory in the online world of combat. ‘This will rot your brain and lead you nowhere’ the parent says silently to themselves, frustratingly trotting back to the dinner table.
Oh how wrong a parent can be in the modern world today.
The world of eSports began as nothing more than friends finding new ways to find bragging rights among themselves, with humble beginnings on now ancient gaming systems. In 2019, the world of competitive gaming has turned a new leaf of true competition, entering students and adults alike into a new arena where both fame and riches can be found at its peak.
Despite a long journey to reach the ultimate goal, local ties at Enid High School have begun taking the initial steps to enter this new space of eSports. The initial results have been outstanding.
Enter Enid High School teacher Christopher Parker. An idea of starting a high school eSports extracurricular club/team in Enid rolled around in his head last spring, and eventually lead to numbers in both the administration & student body buying into the idea. With a small bit of funding, EHS ESports was born, giving dozens of students the chance to compete and belong to a cause greater than themselves.
Competitive gaming titles like Overwatch, Rocket League, Brawlhalla and more quickly picked up interest from various students throughout Enid High. By the middle of the fall semester, not only had the organization grown within the classrooms of EHS, but also to the masses willing to watch on the EHS Twitch streams that broadcast live contests of certain games. Given that some professional eSports leagues are worth millions of dollars, the humble beginnings of EHS ESports are steps in the right direction to organically grow the sport overall.
Not only has Enid ESports gained the support of many in the local area, other schools throughout Oklahoma have also shared similar journeys to grow the eSports community overall. Schools like US Grant, Blanchard, Davis, Tyrone, McCloud, and others in OKC all have their own eSports teams competing frequently in the newly formed “Oklahoma Esports League“.
The next question that many may have around Enid High School circles is one that is commonplace for Plainsmen & Pacers Athletics: How competitive can these teams really be in Year 1? A recent qualifier tournament shows that Enid is ready to compete right out of the gate.
For those that may be unfamiliar, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (played on the Nintendo Switch) is a fighting game in which gaming icons like Mario and Mega Man are utilized by competitors to try and eliminate opponents until they run out of lives in a match. Using a combination of character-specific moves, the competitor left standing wins in sanctioned tournament matches.
The Enid Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team was one of the first in EHS history to compete in a sanctioned tournament this past weekend, when they took the trip to the Oklahoma Esports League’s Western Division Tournament held in Oklahoma City. Multiple schools sent multiple gamers to the event, with EHS team members broken into individual slots to compete in the overall bracket.
Not only did 4 of the top 8 Smash players at EHS make the tournament’s Round of 16, but 2 individuals advanced to the Semifinals. Even better still, a member of the EHS Esports team, Josh “TENcat” Nelson, won the entire tournament outright granting him a high seeding in the state tournament to come later in the spring. In total, 4 of the top 8 finishers in the tournament were from Enid High, compiling an overall record of 24-7 in matches played over the weekend.
With the Smash Bros. Ultimate team at EHS carrying the early torch of success for the first year eSports organization, members of the Enid High School community need to not only stop and watch the process unfold, but also show their support in other ways as well. Mr. Parker’s recent donation round of funding was able to get the EHS Esports organization multiple headphones and controllers for its gamers, creating more opportunity for those within to succeed overall.
The limit of potential in this new endeavor at Enid High School is unknown at this time, however, no one can doubt the early success that this idea has shown in the last few weeks. With a look forward into the future, more tournaments and contests will be held throughout the state that Enid will be present at. The students who compete will continue to practice and sharpen their skills to prove that Enid can indeed compete in this new frontier.
Support from parents, fans, and other students is paramount in the EHS eSports team’s early success. Remember to ask about Enid High School’s new band of athletes when walking in the hallways and speaking with administrators, because ultimately those extra five minutes of practice they are putting in can lead to the sweet sounds of victory for EHS.
Even if they are a little late to the dinner table.