Even during a pandemic, students had the chance to represent their schools on a digital battleground in an eSports tournament this weekend.
It all started because a group of students in 2018 wanted eSports to be supported in their schools.
“I had a group of students about four years ago, they approached me and they wanted eSports to be supported in our schools they wanted to be able to compete against other schools and have a chance to represent (their) school,” said Corbett Artym, Edmonton Public Schools eSports committee chair.
eSports can help students develop teamwork and strategy, just like athletic sports in a year where inter-school athletics aren’t happening due to the pandemic. The students compete by playing League of Legends, a popular multiplayer online battle arena video game.
“We wanted our teams to visit at home or away, just like athletics, and between matches and rounds to talk to their opponents and to shake hands at the end. It’s very social,” said Artym.
Last year Edmonton public schools ran an eight-week league with regular games and playoffs. This year because of COVID-19 all students are playing from home over two weekends.
The first event was held at McNally high school in 2018 and it has grown since then by inviting more high schools as well as junior high students.
Hosted on Twitch by the Alberta eSports Association, this tournament has 140 students and 22 teams from 16 junior and senior high schools within Edmonton public.
“Because it has become a lot bigger we have a volunteer committee of full-time teachers at different high schools and junior highs that are co-ordinating and supporting other teachers and making this happen and co-ordinating with Alberta eSports,” Artym said.
Artym says they want this to be sustainable so the schools are working with community partners and have gotten some funding from businesses in the community.
People in the community are tuning in. According to Artym last weekend they had over 1,000 people watch last Saturday and 800 the day after.
And for this year the winning school gets a trophy, called the LoLoL Cup or League of League of Legends cup, named after last year’s league.
The tournament ends on Sunday and you can catch it on www.twitch.tv/esportsalberta.