This week has been a big one for the video-gaming industry in New Zealand. Over 50 schools, including my own, have participated in the first round of a new High School eSports league, allowing students to competitively play the popular online game, League of Legends.
Although I’m not part of my school’s team – partly because I don’t even know how to play League of Legends – I was a spectator to our opening game. At 6pm on Tuesday the 7th of March, I watched an official interschool sports match happen over the internet.
Sadly, the game didn’t go our way. But, sipping on my Frozen Coke and Facebook live-streaming our event was certainly one of my more fun experiences of sport.
It might seem a tad weird calling it a sport, because frankly, most of us think cricket and rugby when we think of sports. But, that’s the whole point. Generally speaking, the students who partake in eSports are those who are looking to express their talents to win for their school – in the exact same way those who play cricket of rugby do.
Personally, I think we absolutely should treat eSports as a proper sport because, firstly, not every student will be interested in playing cricket or rugby, so this gives them a time to shine. Manuwera High School’s Digial Technology Teacher, Stephen Van Garderen, agrees, saying, in an interview in preparation for the new league, that some kids can now have “pride in representing the school.”
John McRae, the Managing Director for Letsplay.live, the company behind the new league, even said he is “jealous,” of the new league, wishing he could’ve played eSports in his day.
“A sense of involvement”, “tertiary education scholarships”, and “co-ed interaction in a team setting,” are just some of the things that McRae hopes students will gain from their participation in the league.
For the next ten weeks, 50 high school teams will competitively compete for the chance to be the top eSports school in New Zealand. After those rounds, there will be a week of playoffs before the big Grand Final on 9th of June.
I personally wish all competitors the best of luck in their new journey – and I hope this first league will be a success, therefore promoting eSports as a proper sport for the future.
Steven Walton is a 16 year old student currently attending St Andrews College in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was brought up with two older brothers and his big passions are sports (especially motorsport), people and writing. He runs his own motorsport blog, Green Flag F1 (www.greenflagf1.com) and is aspiring to be a journalist when he is older.