E-Sports Team Plays Through Its First Year at NAHS

Brett Wilson, Staff Writer

Sports have been around since ancient times, but much has changed drastically since competition was based on spear-throwing and running. As of 1978, the world obtained Esports. Professional video game sports began with “Space Invaders,” and has since taken over as one of the more popular sports to date.

They’re so popular that even schools have begun including them in after-school activities, including here at Norristown. The NAHS Esports team was formed at the start of the 2022-2023 school year and is coached by Samuel Stansbery, an Algebra and Computer Science teacher. 

The idea to form the team came from a meeting Stansbery had with other computer science teachers, one of whom has an Esports team in their own school. Stansbery decided to host a team himself to compete with other schools. The team got funding from GEAR UP’s funds for post-secondary avenues, or learning pathways after high school since Esports can lead into careers like computer science, professional Esports, and more. The team practices and play on Alienware computers, one of the best gaming computers on the market, in the library. 

Over the course of the year, the team will play 3 or 4 different games, with each game taking place over a “season.” There are limits to what the team can play though, as the Esports directors choose what games all teams play for that season. Each game lasts about 6 weeks, with one week between each tournament for the team to take a break, and to recruit new members for the next season.

The previous season’s game was “Knockout City.” Unfortunately, the Norristown Esports team lost the tournament, but not without a fight. Currently, the team is in its final seasonal game of the school year, “Valorant,” a team-based first-person shooter with fantastical elements and abilities. 

The team meets twice a week, Tuesdays for practice and Thursdays for games. While they mainly play three games competitively– namely “League of Legends,” a multiplayer online battle arena game, “Knockout City,” which is dodgeball mostly played in 3v3 games, and “Valorant”– they are allowed to play other games after practice to have fun and work on teamwork and techniques. 

Players are able to sign into their own personal Epic Games accounts, so they can have their progress tracked whether they are playing at home or in school. Junior John Jones joined at the start of the year with almost everyone else during the “League of Legends” season and continued playing during the “Knockout City” season as well, but he has chosen to spectate this season as he is not a personal fan of “Valorant.” However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have faith in his teammates.

“[The team] combines the things I love: playing video games and making friends,” said Jones.

The games are nerve-racking not only for the players but for Mr. Stansbery as well, since he wants his team to win. He may not participate; however, he understands the pressure his team is under when playing those matches.

“When I’m there, I feel like I’m watching the World Series every time,” said Stansbery. “Because I’m watching our teams compete, and the games are really short, you see the scores the entire time. I’m really nervous for my team.”

The team members seem to get along really well. They don’t argue or fight, they all seem to have some respect, and they all rely on each other. They all think quite highly of their fellow teammates. 

“Most of these guys talk a big game and hopefully they play a big game,” said Jones.

Although, some members are nervous about the “Valorant” season, especially due to it ending with its final pre-tournament match today. They have hopes to finally get the win this time and be the tournament victors. Others, while still having high hopes, aren’t going to assume they will obtain victory for sure.

“For Valorant I expect us to go far,” said junior Chase Eicholtz, another Esports member. 

Our Esports team isn’t anything like a group of people who find themselves to be a force to be reckoned with; in fact, they’re all just people, ordinary students in our school who do what they love and make names for themselves doing so. They’re caring, charismatic, smart, and fun people, and those qualities are what make them our team, and what will get them through the finals.