MHS joins the eSport community
Video games have long been a popular pastime for people around the world, however it wasn’t until recently that the eSports industry has really come to the forefront of gaming. eSports can be simply described as organized multiplayer gaming events between competitive players.
Gamers saw a massive shift occur in the late 2000s, with competitions and tournaments becoming more professional and began to attract spectators and viewers. eSports continues to generate steam, as now many high schools and colleges offer eSports opportunities.
Merrill High School is the latest school in Wisconsin to hop on board, joining the Wisconsin High School eSports Association (WIHSEA) this year. The WIHSEA is a governing body for eSports and conducts year-round interscholastic competitions for participating schools. The WIHSEA began in 2016, with seven schools around Wisconsin participating and as of this year there are over 30 schools competing around the state.
Just the same as sports, the active WIHSEA schools are divided by school size into three divisions, with Merrill participating in Division 2. The Merrill team is made up of 22 students, who compete in four different video games. Each semester of the school year has a set pair of video games that schools compete in. For the fall semester students have been playing Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers. In the spring semester the schools will compete in League of Legends and Rocket League.
According to Merrill head coach Brian Cline, both Merrill’s Overwatch team and Super Smash Brothers team have a good shot at making the state tournament.
“The top four teams from each division will make the State Tournament,” explained Cline, “As of right now, I’d be shocked if our Super Smash Brothers team didn’t make it. They have played great all year and currently sit in fourth place in our division.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the Merrill Overwatch team competed against defending Division 2 state champions, Baraboo. In Overwatch, the teams compete in a best of five series, with each team looking to win three ‘maps’. Each map has a different objective and to win the map a team must win two of three rounds. Merrill played Baraboo tough, handing them one of only two map loses this year, however the Jays would eventually fall by a score of 3-1.
“Our Overwatch team has been looking great lately,” added Cline, “We still have a little ways to go if we hope to make state, but the team has been getting consistently better with each competition.”
Merrill’s assistant eSports coach Aaron Svicek, explained that this program is more than just having fun playing video games.
“This program is great for the school,” said Svicek. “There are some kids in the program who really don’t want to be involved in any kind of after school activities, but they love video games and they’d be playing them at home anyway, so to get them involved in something they love at school is really cool. Doing this program also gives these kids opportunities to get scholarships. So many colleges now have eSports and there are a lot of scholarship opportunities out there and we are really encouraging our students apply for those.”
To learn more about eSports in Wisconsin, or to see standings and schedules, visit www.wihsea.org. Anyone interested in watching the Merrill team compete can do so at www.Twitch.tv/merrill_bluejays.