New Esports team at Champion HS has smashing success
For a handful of schools in the Mahoning Valley, this is the first year that Esports have been an officially sanctioned high school sport.
Champion High School has a team for Overwatch, Valorant and Smash Brothers. The Smash team has been pretty successful, even qualifying for the postseason.
"That's pretty amazing to me, I was kind of shocked myself to see that we made it that far but after watching these guys compete, knowing that they are pretty top notch, I am, at the end of the day not surprised where they are," said David Goldberg, the Esports coach at Champion.
With fast hands and quick thinking, the Flash Smash finished the regular season with a 6-1 record.
"I knew off the bat, like I knew for awhile that we would definitely be one of the better teams from around here just because we have a lot of experienced players who have always been playing the game," said Senior David Carpenter.
"It's unbelievable really but I can't lie to you, we all have an ego here, we all thought it was going to happen, we said state out the gate, really," said Senior Nathan Marlowe. "It's going to be hard for sure but playing on this big stage, I think we're ready for it."
Esports is growing fast. More than 400 high schools in Ohio have a team.
"Convenience and fun because a lot of people, they just don't like football or soccer ,they don't like the physical sports but maybe they like video games and that's ok, right, that's no knock to physical sports, I love them too," Marlowe said. "I played soccer for so long but people want to do this to and it's the same thing, you go from taking a game that is fun and making it into this competitive thing."
This is not your typical video gaming. These are intense competitions set up with specific rules and guidelines and school officials believe it has a place in education.
"I think this can have a great value with these kids in terms of communications, collaborations, creativity and critical thinking," Goldberg said. "I think that plays a part of Esports with their brains and I think being adaptive like we have been will help these guys. We also hold the same standard for accountability for this sport as we would football or basketball so I think grade wise it can help them become better students as well."
Esports can also lead to scholarships as more and more college's and universities start teams.
So what does Champion attribute to their success in Super Smash Brothers?
"Just lot of practice, we get here every day, literally all the time, it starts there, it really does," Marlowe said.
"It really just comes down to practice and practice and knowing this person plays like this, they are going to do this, so I need to counter by either playing slower or being more aggressive," Carpenter said.
"We were undefeated up until our last game, we played a very good team and really this is the foundation year," Marlowe said. "We want this to go as far as we can possibly make it and I have high aspirations, I consider myself a founder, this is my baby, like I love Esports, I love this school and I love the program."
Champion will take on North Canton Hoover in the Round of 6 on Sunday, November 21st at 1 p.m. The regional semi-final will take place at 2 p.m. and then the regional final at 3 p.m.
You can watch the live stream of the event via Kent State here.