Memorial eSports team rising to the top

Memorial+eSports+team%27s+Jan.+25+match+against+Union+and+Putnam+City+ultimately+marked+their+first+win+of+the+season.+

Memorial eSports team’s Jan. 25 match against Union and Putnam City ultimately marked their first win of the season.

Rachel Weathers, Memorial Editor

ESports, a form of competitive, multiplayer video gaming has risen in popularity since 1972 when a Space Invaders championship brought 10,000 participants together. The sport has continued to gather a steady following into the twenty-first century and in the last year, there were 496 million spectators to eSports games. 

With a continuously expanding audience, eSports reached Edmond Memorial in the fall of 2019. The eSports team began with six members and they soon made the spring 2020 playoffs despite the games later being canceled due to COVID-19. Jan. 25 marked the team’s first victories of the season when they defeated Union and Putnam City in their first match of the year. 

The team competes in three games: League of Legends, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. These games allow for competition between opposing teams and for competitors to devise strategies to come out on top. Memorial recently won games in League of Legends and Rocket League. 

League of Legends competitions consist of a best of three tournament draft style rounds and Rocket League matches are a best of three, five minute games. The Bulldogs won two-zero in League of Legends and were the first team to reach two victories in Rocket League, which sealed their win. 

Memorial’s team brings players of varying skill levels together to compete. Because of this, there can be gaps in the experience levels between players. To combat the challenges this may present, the team has worked together to improve their strategies and communication during practice. This is done to play efficiently and move towards victory. 

“With the Union and Putnam City games, we practiced daily for a couple of hours a week in advance. It really helps with knowing each other’s playstyles and how to adapt even with vastly different skills,” junior Colter Holmes said. 

For junior Cody Homer, communication proved to be an imperative aspect of the team’s gameplay during the League of Legends match. This is something that will continue to be implemented throughout the remainder of the season as the team battles for a spot in the playoff games.

“What won us the first game of the season and what I believe will help us continue to win more games this season is that we have very good communication skills,” Homer said. “When the time comes, we all try to keep up a constant flow of useful information in order to make educated decisions on what we should do next.”

Training and formulating certain strategies in preparation for the match began the week prior to the competition. During this time, specific plays were devised to work against the other team and ultimately lead to a win for the Bulldogs. However, the team quickly had to adapt due to changes made by Union’s team. Coach Kate Swearingen saw the team fight back to ultimately win. 

“We had a scrimmage against Union for our League of Legends team the week before and we planned specific bans that targeted their best and worst players,” Swearingen said. “When Monday rolled around, the opposing coach had changed the roster, which initially caused us to fall behind in the game. However, the team rallied and fought back and won.”

During the Rocket League match, Memorial encountered some challenges including playing in a new setting for the first time while also facing some obstacles in the first game. While the team did fall at first, they later sealed the win.

“From the Rocket League team, I saw them step up under pressure. We played on stage for the first time with spectators and to see them react well in all of that was amazing,” Swearingen said. “They dropped the first match, but quickly rallied and pulled out the next two.” 

This win has kept the team’s spirits high and demonstrated to them what they are capable of accomplishing. In the future, Swearingen sees this win serving as a reminder of the team’s strength and ability to compete with other challenging rivals. 

“The kids are excited knowing that they really can do it. We had some good wins against good 6A opponents and that’s a fantastic start to the season. We can always look back and even if we drop a game at some point, we know we can win because we have,” Swearingen said. “The outlook is great.”

League of Legends competitors have their next match on March 8 against Enid and the Rocket League team next faces off against Lawton MacArthur on March 1. 

Contact Rachel Weathers at [email protected]