If you heard Epic had two state championships last year and seniors graduating with college scholarships, would you believe it was for video games? Esports have been sweeping the nation for decades. Though, in today’s world, the rewards have been raised.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, esports are the same as regular sports, just through a screen. If you’ve ever played any online game competitively, you can begin to understand esports.
Kaiden Hudson, director of esports and game studies at Epic, directs a team that won state tournaments in the fall and spring.
“I don’t want to say, ‘good,’ because that definitely undersells the amount of emotion I was feeling, and so were the students,” Hudson said about the wins. “It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.”
The tournaments aren’t the only thing the team is celebrating. They recently got a new facility for practices and competitions, giving them locations in OKC and Tulsa.
If esports is something you’re interested in, Hudson encourages players to do whatever feels right to them, whether it’s playing at home or in person. There are many different ways you can begin. Everyone from third-graders to seniors is welcome.
There aren’t many requirements to start playing. Some competitive games can be played off a standard Chromebook.
“As long as you have the dedication and time to this type of thing, then, by all means, just come,” Hudson said.
There are two esports classes that you can earn high school credit from and one middle school class. Much like regular sports, you need to excel in standard school to play them. Five out of the seven seniors in the program last year received college scholarships from esports.
Braden Pewitt, gamer tag, “micr0”, specializes in playing Valorant for his team. Esports are important to him and his day-to-day life.
“The competitiveness,” Pewitt said, “just having fun and being able to compete against other players.”
Pewitt had some advice for other students wanting to join esports. Getting into the right surroundings and having the right support is what he finds important.
“You wanna make sure you’re in an environment that’s going to help you grow as a player,” Pewitt said.