In the new digital age, a whole new world of competitive and organized gameplay has been introduced 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 a competitive manner. In recent years, this sport form has had increasing popularity.
University High School’s esports team participates in the NASEF (North America Scholastic Esports Federation). For the past three seasons, competing against 50 other schools, the UHS Overwatch team 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 able to easily demonstrate their talent.
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 team captain, Rustin Kabiri, a senior, “We were able to flawlessly execute both support dive (a strategic type of lineup) that left the team with bewildering numbers. From there, we were able to clean up and win the initial point on map one”.
Even though the team ended the match with a victory, it did not come without its potential 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 Uni’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. Just a little bit of planning before a big team fight can go a long way,” said junior Ashley Srun.
The second half of the match proved to be more for UHS. El Toro was able to win a round, the Trojans answered, and the match went into overtime.
“It was definitely difficult and nerve-wracking during the beginning. Their DPS [Damage Per Second] were very hard to deal with. Their team had impeccable communication, so it was very difficult for me to stay alive during the fights,” said Srun, “It’s very important to not lose morale when you’re at a significant disadvantage. It’s very easy to be discouraged and start to give up when you lose a fight or two, but it’s super important to stay positive and encourage your teammates”.
Although the first game was a success for Uni, in order to go further than in previous years, the team still needs improvements.
“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, “Overall, I think we were able to land a solid team score of 6/10. For it being our first game and with new players added to our roster, 6/10 is a better than average and realistic start to the season”.
The Trojan Esports team had a good start to the new Overwatch season, with a 1-0 overall record. There is more to come in future games and more to prove later in the season.
“Game Modes.” Overwatch Wiki, overwatch.gamepedia.com/Game_Modes.
“About the Federation.” NASEF, http://www.nasef.org/about/about-the-federation/.