Alaska’s high school esports scene continues to grow after a successful inaugural season!
What are esports, you ask? Esports is organized competitive video gameplay between two teams with its own rules and guidelines. Large scale tournaments are happening all over the world where teams compete for millions of dollars in cash prices. Esports is a billion-dollar industry, and three of the ten most watched sporting events last year were esports events.
Most exciting for our high school students is the ability to qualify for college scholarships. Over 500 colleges nationwide have a club or competition esports team, with nine million dollars in scholarship money distributed to esports athletes last year. Alaska is becoming one of the first states to offer a high school to college pipeline for esports competitors!
Not only are there financial benefits of participating in esports, there are life skills being gained. Teams that compete at a high level communicate very well in and out of matches, and players need to work together be able to problem solve quickly. We’re also very excited about the opportunity to engage a large group of students that haven’t participated in other school activities. The research is clear that involvement in extracurriculars at school lead to better student development, learning, and graduation rates. With over seventy two percent of teens reporting they game on a regular basis, this is an awesome opportunity for our state!
Esports Alaska League
Thirty high school teams throughout Alaska competed in our first season of Overwatch, League of Legends, and Rocket League. Congratulations to Dimond High for winning the state championship in Rocket League and Overwatch, and to East High for taking home the honors of state champion in League of Legends. Dimond also went on to win EGFH’s national championship in Rocket League! A big shout out to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District for leading the state with the most esports teams.
Esport Alaska’s spring season will be kicking off in mid-February with a couple of new game offerings. Students will now be able to compete in Fortnite, Hearthstone, Smash Bros, Overwatch and Rocket League. Four new districts are looking to join the spring league, and we’re excited to see all our students in action. You can follow your favorite teams on EGFH’s Twitch channel.
Alaska’s Esports Future
The Yukon-Koyukuk School District has made a formal request to the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) to sanction esports as an activity for the 2019-2020 school year. The ASAA board will be discussing this request at their February 19th board meeting in Anchorage. The sanctioning of esports is becoming more common around the country as the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have entered into a partnership with PlayVS to being the rollout of esports competitions in high schools throughout the nation.
Lastly, The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is hosting an Esports Summit on March 30th as the university is looking to break into the exploding world of esports! This event is open and free to the public. We hope to see you there!
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