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Esport team takes PHS’s first state championship in 44 years

RocketLeague

photos/PHS

Taken just after the PHS Rocket League Team won the state title Thursday, May 16. Coach Wil Nix (second row from back, center) with team members (second row from back, left to right) Carter Logan, Mason Watkins, and Eric Robinson.  

 

     “The best way I can explain it is it’s like soccer with cars,” PHS student Mason Watkins explains before he plays a video of the night he and his teammates won the Georgia High School Association’s Esports Rocket League State Championship. 

     The short clip shows dozens of PHS students cheering on Watkins and the two other players, Carter Logan and Eric Robinson, after they clinched PHS’s first team state title since 1974.

Watkins and Logan briefly explain “Rocket League,” which they say is “much more than a video game,” as driving virtual cars and pushing balls into goals. For competitions, teammates play remotely from a computer

lab at PHS against other teams in Georgia. Players play on individual computers and communicate via headsets to coordinate attacks, defense, and all other strategy and tactics. 

     The state championship match was held on Thursday, May 16 where the PHS team heartily beat the #1 ranked team in the state, Calvary Day School of Savannah. 

     “It was a 4-0 sweep,” said PHS Computer Science Teacher and Esport Coach Wil Nix. “It’s a little bit different being an Esport, but we love it and we’re looking to defend our state championship in the fall.” 

     The PHS team went into the championship as a 17th seed team after finishing the regular season 7-2. 

RocketLeagueScore2 The championship event at PHS was attended by around 100 students, with many of their supporters coming from traditional sports teams at PHS. The high school quarterback is one of their biggest fans and over half the school soccer team attends competitions. Fox 5 even showed up to film the state championship and aired a piece on their 11 p.m. nightly news.   

     “People have fallen in love with watching it,” Nix said. “They have a good time and so do we.”

Left, a screen shot of PHS Rocket League Team player Carter Logan making a score during the championship. This is one of three Esport game teams at PHS.

     The is the first year the GHSA has recognized Esports (short for Electronic Sports) as a sanctioned sport. At this point Georgia is just one of a handful of states to do so, but that number is expected to grow with Esports’ rising popularity.  GHSA argues Esports are “not to be confused with video games. It’s much more than that. What sets it apart is the level of organized competitive gameplay between teams and its own strict set of rules and guidelines. Esports is about teamwork, communication, strategic thinking and leadership — in all the same ways that traditional sports are and then some.” 

    According to GHSA, Esports have 400 million fans around the world who regularly attend arena-sized events.

PHS has two other Esport teams for the popular games “League of Legends” and “Smite,” with teams all having regular weekly practices like other sports teams.

     “The games play to different skill sets so we have different players for each team,” said Nix, who will coach again next year beginning with the fall season. This year players had to use their own computer equipment, but for the upcoming season local company The Fastest Dog will sponsor teams and get them the beefy gaming computers needed to play. Nix thanked Fastest Dog, also thanked school superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson, PHS Principal Chris Wallace, and assistant superintendent Tony Young for their support.

   esporttrophy  “I would like to say that I am extremely proud of our students and this accomplishment for them,” said Wallace. “Thank you to Mr. Nix, who agreed to lead this team. We obviously have some talented students who have been given the opportunity to exhibit their skills on this platform. This was a very exciting day for PHS.”

     The PHS Esport Rocket League Team Championship Trophy at left.

Like any other state champions, PHS’s Rocket League Team will receive a trophy and championship rings. The players also have scholarship opportunities because of the big win. 

     Learn more at www.ghsa.net/esports