eSports: Team Sports to the Next Level

The first Esports tournament took place October 19, 1972 at Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Two dozen players showed up to compete on a single computer, a PDP-1. There were two challenges: a 5-man free-for-all and a team event. The first prize for both was a one-year subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Fast forward to today, Esports is a multi-million dollar industry. The biggest purse in Esports for many years is The International for Dota 2, simply known as T.I. In 2021, Team Spirit took home $18.2 million as T.I.’s first prize winner. Split between five players, that’s a little over $3.6 million each!

The generations that grew up with the advances of the 90’s to 2000’s in-home consoles didn’t need access to an artificial intelligence lab to play video games. All that was needed: a console, controller, tv, and some friends. Now you don’t even need your friends to be in the same room, they just need their own console to play online together as long as you have an internet connection. That ease of access is why gaming took off. You no longer need to leave your house to hang out with your friends. It became a way to relax with friends while still maintaining a little competition. Some took that competition to the next level and started creating leagues. Thus, Esports was born, and they continued to grow until they became as massive as the T.I.

So, again why esports? Esports has taken a kid hang out activity and added a competitive edge. Kids still
want to hang out with their friends, and can from the comfort of their home. It used to be kids would go from playing ball in the front yard to joining the school sports teams, now kids can go from playing video games at home to playing with a team sanctioned by the school. It gives the kids who are not traditionally athletic a chance to be a part of something they enjoy and be a part of a team.

Esports are video games played in a competitive setting. Most games have the option to play a competitive game mode with more restrictions made to simulate the professional leagues of these games, giving the average player the chance to feel like they are playing the same game as the professionals.

As someone who didn’t want to go into field of Education, I find coaching these kids quite enjoyable. While working with kids can be difficult, watching them enjoy something they love (and that I love) while representing their school, is rewarding and special because it’s something I didn’t get to do. This first year, we have about forty kids in Esports, competing in Brawlhalla, Halo Infinite, League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant, and looking to add more this spring. During the Fall season we had some success! Our Halo team placed 15 th out of 90 teams, and our League of Legends team placed 3 rd in the Kansas state tournament.