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Taylorsville Journal

Big eSports online tournament held for local students

Dec 16, 2021 11:19AM ● By Greg James

Rocket League is one of the most popular eSports games, West Jordan and Mountain Ridge high schools played an online match. (Photo courtesy of TLE)

By Greg James |  [email protected] 

The idea of gamers living in their parents’ basement and never seeing the light of day is no more. In the fall festival held in November, 695 Utah high school and middle school students gathered online in a friendly eSports competition.

“The ability of eSports to be online at any time makes it possible for us to hold a large tournament,” co-owner and operator of The League Esports Danny Jacobson said. 

“We both got into eSports years ago for a local company, LDS Gamers,” co-owner and operator of TLE Shawn Fisher said. “We decided to open our community and host games. We were contacted by some high school organizations, and through networking it has become a nation and worldwide opportunity.”

The Fall Festival, sponsored by Ken Garff eSports, was the largest school event held in the state, as 221 middle school and high school teams gathered online Nov. 11–12. In the 5A and 6A division, 24 schools were represented.

Teams played Smash Bros Ultimate and Rocket League. Each game can be played as teams and supports quick timed battles. RL (Rocket League) was played in teams of three. It is a vehicular-style soccer game. Both games are popular games with youth competitors and could be adapted to a large online gathering.

“My teacher brought it up in a class, and Rocket League is a game I like to play, so I signed up,” a middle school student that goes by the user name “Elimantor” said. “I like competing against my friends.”

“A tournament this large had never been held in Utah,” Jacobson said. “Some schools had multiple teams, some schools had as many as 30 kids. The goal would be to hold it as an in-person event eventually, but lots of logistics would need to be figured out. Rocket League and Smash Bros are two of the most popular, and they are good family-friendly games.”

League of Legends is also a popular game that will be introduced into a big tournament, but the speed of games in Rocket League and SuperSmash fit better into the large tournament.

“The goal of this particular event was not to see who the very best was,” Jacobson said. “We wanted the most participation and the opportunity to get kids to play with others from all over the place.” 

Ken Garff eSports, iTeamUSA and Code to Success has pinpointed that gaming can develop potential workplace applicants. Jobs including coding and cyber security have many silicon slopes companies seeing the opportunity to find possible future employees. 

“This is a great gateway to introduce these jobs by finding kids that like to play video games,” Jacobson said.

“Kids can go on to college and pay for it through games,” Fisher said. “We also have high school quarterbacks, soccer stars and even band kids that like to play games when they get home. It is not an absolute that if you play games you live in your mom’s basement. Some of us are older, and we own our basements.” 

The online community has helped many students with mental health conditions.

“Just like anything, there are negative things if you look for them,” Jacobson said. “The community involvement can help with kids that can be introverted. Gaming is a big sense of community. That is a reason we started TLE was to make a safe place to play and make new friends—some of my best friends I have never met.”

Like a local recreation center, TLE holds gathering points for gamers to gather and play competitive video games. 

“As we started ‘adulting,’ we wanted a place where we could play our games, just like rec leagues play basketball or softball,” Jacobson said. “Gamers can play competitively in college and earn scholarships or job offers. That is how we got started.” 

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