By AMITIS TAJALLAEI
In this day and age, a whole new world of competitive and organized gameplay has made its way to the sports community. Esports, as a form of sports competition, incorporates video games for competitive gameplay. Like all other traditional athletes, players seek to improve their skills and strategize their playing styles against others. In recent years, this sport form has become increasingly popular.
University High School’s esports team participates in the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF). For the past three seasons, the UHS Overwatch team has competed against 50 other schools and has consecutively placed 10th or better while playing in the semi-finals every season.
The Trojans’ season opener in Overwatch League took place on Friday, Oct. 9th against El Toro high school. The team was given the opportunity to show off what they have learned in practices.
The first match took place in Busan, a control map location in Overwatch. As defined by the game’s format, teams fight over a set of control points in a best-of-two series, with an additional two overtime rounds if needed. The match was a clean sweep for Uni with a 2-0 victory.
“The highlight of the game was being able to see the team bring things together and finally get that victory,” said senior Anthony Bonfa, a coach for the squad. “I was very happy with how the team played overall. In the future, I hope they will be able to sharpen things up and play as clean as possible.”
“Alongside our developing team playmaking and communication, we were able to take advantage of every single opportunity we had to land us the 2-0 win,” said senior Rustin Kabiri, the team’s former team captain. Kabiri further went on to explain how “We (the team) were able to flawlessly execute both support dive (a strategic type of lineup) that left the team with confused and easy to defeat.”
Even though the team ended the match with a victory, it did not come without its challenges.
“Unfortunately, the initial map that was chosen is one that we hadn’t practiced on much and we are all a bit nervous going in,” Kabiri said, “But after that initial team wipe and realization that we had this in the bag, all our worries fluttered away.”
The second half of the match took place in Hanamura, an assault location map. In this game mode, the two teams must attempt to capture or defend strategic points across the map. Despite the match going into overtime twice, this match also ended with a win for UHS’s team with a score of 2-1, marking the game as a Trojan victory.
“We had many big plays, but the most rewarding ones are when we paired our ultimates just right, and we end up wiping out their whole team,” said junior Ashley Srun. Srun added that “just a little bit of planning before a big team fight can go a long way,”
The second half of the match proved to be similarly victorious as the first. El Toro was able to win a round, the Trojans answered, and the match went into overtime.
“It’s very important to not lose morale when you’re at a significant disadvantage,” said Srun. Adding that “It’s very easy to be discouraged…but it’s super important to stay positive and encourage your teammates.”
Although the first game was a success for UHS, in order to go further than in previous years, the team still has areas to improve.
“We most definitely need to work more on team chemistry, ultimate combinations, as well as character flexibility.. thanks to our coaches, we have been improving drastically in all mentioned categories,” Kabiri said.
The Trojan Esports team had a strong start to the new Overwatch season, with a 1-0 overall record. The team will continue playing against other schools within their tournament, looking for a shot to play in the grand finals.
“Game Modes.” Overwatch Wiki, overwatch.gamepedia.com/Game_Modes.
“About the Federation.” NASEF, http://www.nasef.org/about/about-the-federation/.