E-Sports gaming underway


Photo by Sean Fuller.

The powerful computer of E-Sports member Sean Fuller, who is playing the online multiplayer battle arena game League of Legends.

  As the typing and clicking of the Plainfield North E-Sports team continue to excite the live-streamed audience, their competitive edge never leaves them as the setting of competition shifts from school to home.  

In its second year,  North’s E-Sports club provides students the opportunity to showcase their gaming abilities in a variety of games – not for pure amusement but to gain a competitive edge against other experienced gamers. 

“The IHSA came together and reached out to the Plainfield schools, and they wanted to recognize E-Sports as a valid sport,” North E-Sports head coach Lindsay Casey said. “They called us into a meeting, and we explained how it works.”

Some might argue that gaming is more of a hobby and shouldn’t be classified as a sport unless it involves some sort of physical movement. Members of the team say that anything can become a sport if it has the same components as sports like football or basketball.

“Usually when people think of sports, they think of a game that has rules and competition,” sophomore Declan fuller said.  “The only difference is E-Sports is not physical.”

Just like many sports, competitive gaming requires focus and discipline both key skills to achieve success. One of the many issues gamers cope with is nerves, and they can negatively impact the overall performance of how the team plays.

“I’ve always gotten super nervous before and during gaming,” E-Sports team member and sophomore Lauren Chavez said. ”I just worry that I will not perform well enough.”

During competitions around the world, gamers present their skills and can earn rewards for their efforts.

“League of Legends, which is an online multiplayer battle arena game, had over $2 million in prize money,” Casey said. “Also, in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, there was $2.5 million in prize money that could be won. A lot of money that comes in is also from sponsorships.”

Competitions and huge fan bases are only half of what makes competitive gaming a success. Gamers on the professional end are making a name for themselves as they are given credit for specific gaming techniques that they invented. 

“I don’t really look up to anyone in the professional world, but I do take the ideals from them in terms of play styles,” senior Sean Fuller said. “There is a gamer who plays on a South Korean team by the name of Faker who has pioneered a certain playstyle for a character that I don’t play very often. It’s really amazing how he has done that.”

 Though many sports have been impacted by Covid-19, North’s E-Sports team remains largely untouched by the pandemic. 

“Some schools are using entire computer labs filled with gaming Pc’s,” Fuller said. “Everyone on our team mostly has gaming Pc’s at home so it hasn’t really affected us in the slightest.”

Despite the pandemic not changing the schedule of the competition, struggles are still present. Just like in any other physical sport, a unified force is key. 

“I’ve really learned how to cooperate with people after the initial awkwardness and uncertainty,” Chavez said. “Cooperation is a big factor in gameplay, it dictates the effectiveness of the team.” 

Learning to achieve success with others is all part of learning the sport, and some members want to pursue playing and establishing relationships between their teammates as a career. Gaming from a professional standpoint is not only difficult, but it is very tough to get going at first.

“If somebody is really good at a game, I definitely recommend it,” Fuller said. “You can stream your games online for people to enjoy which can make out to be a very successful career for some. Playing for fun also works too.”