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Higley, Williams Field Esports Team Continues to Compete Virtually

Higley, Williams Field Esports Team Continues to Compete Virtually

Teen boys with masks on standing together infront of a red wall with art work on it.

Despite the pandemic disrupting many aspects of student life, students on the esports team at Higley and Williams Field High School continue to compete virtually.

“I think esports is great right now, because we’re still able to continue with the season,” said Connor Seiferth, coach for Williams Field’s esports team. “With concerns about social distancing, it’s perfect for students to do right now.”
 
Last year, Seiferth said the team competitively played Super Smash Bros. Super Smash Bros is a crossover fighting game published by Nintendo and features popular franchise characters like Mario and Kirby.

This year, the team is pushing into other games like League of Legends and Rocket League. League of Legends is a multiplayer battle arena game. Rocket League is also a multiplayer online game, which focuses on a soccer game where the players are cars. Both games rely on strong teamwork and strategy.

Seiferth said he has experience with Super Smash Bros, but is excited to learn with the students about the new games.

Last year, Higley’s esports League of Legends team took second place at state. Coach Austin Byers is excited for his first year coaching the team. Byers plays Overwatch and League of Legends in competitive settings.
 
During the offseason, Byers explained the Higley team scrimmaged other teams to prepare for the season. They used PlayVS, which is a platform that allows high school esports to scrimmage against other teams across the country.
 
“Students get together virtually and they are given a code to join a game,” said Byers. “We scrimmaged a school from California (earlier in the offseason) and we have teams within our club that scrimmage each other.”
 
Esports popularity has erupted over the past few years. According to NPR, more than 170 universities participate in esports and there are more than $16 million in college scholarships.
High schools have followed the trend as well. This year, 17 states offer high school esports teams.
 
Like other sports, players develop teamwork skills and a competitive mentality. Last year, Seiferth said that some students on the team struggled to keep a positive mentality and not take losses too hard.
 
“One of the things we tried to focus on was good mentality,” said Seiferth. “Being able to accept those losses and learn from mistakes instead of dwelling on them.”
This season, Seiferth encourages the students to develop their inner coaching system, including a good mentality, but also motivating them to “help each other grow, learn and foster that sense of team.”
 
At Higley, Byers wants to be back in the state championships for League of Legends, but this time take home the gold.
 
“Our biggest thing we’re going for is we want to win state this year for League of Legends,” said Byers.
 
Last year, the team encountered hardware problems. But this year, they have computers designated for esports, which is in the media center. Byers said the computers are "specifically for esports and other students who want to play competitive sports but aren't involved with the club."
 
“We are definitely not missing a beat this season,” said Byers.