FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) More than 60 high schools in Alaska are currently on a waitlist to build an eSports program and compete as an official varsity sport. The Alaska Schools Activities Association has partnered with PlayVS to build an interscholastic electronic sports league with three gaming options: League of Legends, Smite and Rocket League.
PlayVS has an exclusive partnership with the National Federation of State High School Association, which regulates ASAA. Play VS is known as the ‘official league for high school eSports’.
The eSports league will be operated in the likes of other varsity high school sports, such as football, swimming, track and field, etc. There will be opportunities to win a state championship and earn collegiate scholarships.
According toedsurge, over 115 colleges and universities across the country offer scholarships, as of February, 2019.
“ASAA is really excited by the prospect of engaging additional students into educational activities,” Billy Strickland, Executive Director, ASAA said in a PlayVS press release. “Regardless of the type of activity, research shows that students participating in educational based activities perform better academically, have better school attendance and are less likely to use alcohol, drugs or tobacco when compared to their non-participating peers. We believe eSports will introduce an entirely new group of students these benefits. We look forward to seeing this activity develop over the next many years.”
The cost for students to participate is $64. On theASAA website, it states each school is required to have an eSports coach on site for all official matches. Each student will need a computer, a mouse, keyboard and headset. Schools will provide the equipment and games, but students are allowed to use their own equipment if they prefer.
The fall season will start as soon as September 30, 2019, with official matches starting on October 14. League play will end December 9, with playoffs taking place in January of 2020.
“I’m incredibly excited for ASAA’s first eSports season,” Luke Meinert, Assistant Superintendent of the Yukon-Koyukuk School District said in the press release. “When Yukon-Koyukuk School District started the Alaska high school eSports league in the fall of 2018 I had no idea if it would take off. I appreciate PlayVS’s professionalism, expertise and innovation in the high school eSports space to make this a reality for Alaska. I love that we are providing students with another way to be a part of the larger school community & showcase their awesome skills. I can’t wait to see all the action go down this fall and witness the multiple ways students can participate in their eSports programs.”
Over 13,000 schools across the nation are on the PlayVS waiting list. By comparison, there are 14,247 schools with high school football, which would put eSports on par with participation in football, according to the press release.
PlayVS was founded in October of 2018, and in its first year of activity, more than 70% of the participants said “they found a community to connect with, and more than 40% plan on using their eSports experience to apply for colleges and universities”
“ESports provides a new opportunity for students to become athletes,” Dr. Clint Kennedy, Director of Education & Acquisition at PlayVS said in the release. “It opens the door to scholarships, recognition, and newfound communities on campus. We are excited to work directly with teachers and schools to build out their eSports programs this fall.”
About the games:
Here are ASAA’s descriptions of the games available in Alaska this year
League of Legends — “Combines the speed and intensity of a real-time strategy game with role playing game elements, as two teams of five compete head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. Each player has a specific role and must support one another to succeed.”
Smite — A multiplayer, online battle arena where players pilot mythological characters and fight for control of a three-lane map. Teams of five players must work together to level up their characters and secure map objectives to siege the enemy’s base and defeat the opposing Titan. SMITE offers a third-person perspective which is unique in the genre.
Rocket League — A sports-action game that combines soccer with driving. Students will compete in teams of three to score as many goals as they can in a five-minute match. The game’s combination of familiar objectives and fresh mechanics made it an instant hit in the gaming world.”
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