Esports on the Rise

May 15, 2018

It’s 6 O’Clock on a typical Friday night in March; a cool, cloudy night filled with an air of competition. This Friday was not typical in the sense that one was out partying, but normal for an athlete with a big game that’s about to start. Fruita Monument H.S. faced off against Colorado Mesa University in a team competition of five on five. Each locked into a battle of champions, both determined to claim victory.

These various students were not playing what’s considered to be a typical sport like football or lacrosse, but instead, they were playing against each other in the video game, League of Legends. This game is similar to a virtual capture the flag: both teams battling to siege the other’s base and destroy its “flag.”

This competition may seem at first glance very different than a sport like lacrosse, but not so different that it shouldn’t be classified as a sport, says Mario Morales, English teacher, and head of the League of Legends club at Fruita Monument H.S. He says, it’s something you can be passionate about, without needing physical prowess to participate, while also having the same positive effect on sportsmanship and team-building that playing for the football team would have upon a student. Morales says that the reason for the club is “To represent students that wouldn’t normally be represented by the school, and there’s always the added benefit of it being a team sport, so students get to grow good sportsman-like qualities and work with other people that have similar interests.”

“I wanted to go pro for the longest time like any boy does. I wanted to be a baseball pro, I wanted to be a lacrosse pro,” said BJ Long, captain of the CMU team and CMU Esports club leader. “Then I got injured my freshman year of high school. That took me out of sports for two years and I lost my competitive edge.” BJ attests that he turned to video games during those two years of injury in order to occupy his time and maintain a connection with his friends outside of school. He said, “I met a lot of my really close friends doing that.”

Tseveen Saruultuya, captain of the FMHS League team says, “It gives me a reason to go to school some days, it’s pretty fun.” He says that being on the team has allowed him to meet new people, and hang out with the friends he usually wouldn’t be able to spend time with.

While League of Legends continues to expand, college opportunities for players have started to appear. “MIT, Harvard, Yale, offer scholarships, for some of them, it’s full-ride scholarships,” says Morales, with a belief that it will continue to grow. Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends released the statistic that 364 million unique people viewed the competition over the course of the 2017 world championships.

CMU was able to establish an early-game dominance, extending that lead into the two later phases of the game, and ultimately sieging Fruita Monument’s base in both games. As a result, CMU claimed victory with two wins to none, but neither team let that ruin their sportsmanship. The night ended with the two teams shaking hands, congratulating each other on their play, giving each other friendly advice, and chatting with the audience.

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