Esports Club hosts school-wide gaming tournament

‘Rocket League’ event to be streamed in late March

Cal+High%27s+Esports+Club+will+be+hosting+a+%22Rocket+League%22+Tournament+of+March+27.+It%27s+the+first+esports+tournament+hosted+by+the+school+in+more+than+a+year+because+of+the+coronavirus+pandemic.

Jay Warren

Cal High’s Esports Club will be hosting a “Rocket League” Tournament of March 27. It’s the first esports tournament hosted by the school in more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Daphne So, Staff Writer

Cal High gamers should gear up for the first official school-wide tournament they’ve had in a long time.

The school’s Esports Club will be hosting a school-wide “Rocket League” tournament on the streaming platform Twitch, with cash prizes for the top three winners. The March 27 event will be the first official school-wide tournament hosted by Cal since the coronavirus pandemic started a year ago.

Throughout his time as club president, senior Jack Borovitz has held club meetings and unofficial district-wide tournaments. This year, due to the pandemic, Borovitz has focused on running virtual tournaments.

“[We are working to] provide students with all kinds of opportunities including tournament organization, playing, and hopefully casting,” Borovitz said. 

Running online gaming tournaments through a school club has its fair share of obstacles.

“The hardest thing about organizing a gaming tournament is choosing which game to base it on and if the game is school friendly or not,” said sophomore Sol Abrian, a co-collaborator who is responsible for the club’s publicity. “We had a little difficulty choosing a game and then passing it by the school.”

Borovitz and his officers had hoped to hold a district-wide “VALORANT” tournament, then switched to “League of Legends.” “VALORANT” is a tactical multiplayer shooter game and “League of Legends” is an online battle arena game. The district did not approve of either.

“It got shot down because the district was understandably nervous about the focus on gunplay,” said Borovitz, explaining why the club couldn’t host a tournament with those games.

In response, the club wrote an email to administrators which resulted in a meeting discussing the value of esports. 

“After, I explained the amount of members we had sign up for ‘VALORANT’ and ‘League of Legends,’” Borovitz said. “After that, it was out of my hands and in the control of the school who brought it to the district.”

The Esports club ended up hosting a “VALORANT” tournament anyways, albeit unofficially, on Feb. 27. For the official school-wide event, the Esports Club collaborated with leadership and decided on “Rocket League”, a vehicular soccer game where players work with their teams to score goals in their opponent’s net. 

Since the game relies on a point system to determine a winner, there were no issues getting the game approved as opposed to their previous attempts.

“The school’s been great and amazingly supportive through this whole process and helped me with the [gaming] tournament,” Borovitz said.

Sophomore vice president Ronit Prakash came up with the idea of hosting a school-wide tournament. He, along with a few other leadership students, were preparing a tournament for their leadership legacy projects when they heard of the Esports Club’s tournament.

“While it was too late for us to join them with their ‘VALORANT’ tournament, we decided to work with them and have a joint leadership and E-sports [sic] Club collaboration for the next school-wide tournament,” Prakash said. “We thought it would be better to have a united team to make this the best tournament we could.”

Esports Club adviser and economics teacher Stephen Farwell said that leadership already had people interested in the game, which was helpful. 

Farwell stressed the importance of connecting with other students, especially during the pandemic.

“The Esports Club and tournament is a great way to find a way to connect to fellow students, make new friends, and find a belonging for students who may not otherwise feel connected to the school outside of academics,” Farwell said.

When Borovitz came to Cal High he already knew that he wanted to make Esports a varsity sport. With the help of then-junior Anish Lathker and Farwell, the three of them formed the Cal High Esports Club his sophomore year. With the district approving the Esports tournament, Borovitz is one step closer to achieving that dream.

Esports is a controversial topic in the sports community, with many speculating whether gaming qualifies as a real sport. 

“Even though Esports is not a physical sport that requires physical activity, it still does require a huge amount of skill a lot of sport athletes have,” Adhikari said.

Abrian believes that Esports did not initially qualify as a sport, but has earned that status over time. 

“As the fan base and the industry grew, so did the definition of sport,” Abrian said. “I think that Esports is a rising topic and it will only continue to grow, and I think that the best way to develop it would be to support it.”

Esports has been gaining traction in schools across the country. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), more than 170 colleges participate in Esports and in 2014 a single gaming championship was viewed by over 27 million people.

“Esports is getting very close to being as big as some physical sports,” Adhikari said. “People can now make an entire career through Esports and viewership and prize money for Esports events [keeps] increasing yearly.”

Students interested in participating in the “Rocket League” tournament, need to sign up by March 24 and join the tournament Discord channel for announcements.