Computer screens illuminated the faces of students competing at the Jordan Ballroom Saturday during Boise State’s first Idaho High School eSports Tournament. ESports are a form of competition using video games.
During the tournament, students competed against other Idaho students in League of Legends, Overwatch Esports, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros.
The tournaments winners were Boise High School team 4 Guys 1 Mando for League of Legends, Eagle High School team The Idaho Spuddy Buddy for Overwatch, Middleton Academy player Pow for Smash 4 and Boise High School Team Feral for Rocket League.
The tournament was hosted by the Boise State University College of Education, the College of Innovation and Design and the Department of Educational Technology. In total, 120 students participated from 40 high schools.
Eagle High School was the only school to participate from the West Ada School District and sent 21 students, the largest number of students any participating school sent.
Eagle High School’s club Eagle eSports wants to expand and host tournaments with schools in the Treasure Valley throughout the school year leading up to next year’s tournament at Boise State.
Amanda Thrall, Eagle High’s library assistant, started the Eagle eSports club in February after seeing information about the tournament. Thrall, who is a gamer herself, said the club quickly gained members, giving students the opportunity to cross social groups.
“It’s an amazing tool,” she said. “It gets kids who are introverted to meet new people.”
Thrall said students who joined the club are passionate about gaming, and the tournament validated their interest.
“It’s rewarding for them to realize something they’re interested in has recognition at a collegiate level,” Thrall said.
Eagle High School student and president of the Eagle eSports Club Isaiah Bennett has been playing video games competitively for several years. He said he’d love to see the tournament expand and offer competitions in more video games.
“Video gaming is like a universal language,” Thrall said. “We are competing for the common goal to get this as a common activity in high school.”
According to Brett Shelton, general manager of Bronco eSports team, Boise State plans to host the Idaho High School eSports Tournament again next year.
In September 2017, Boise State recognized Bronco eSports — Boise State’s esports team — as a varsity college sport.
According to Shelton, the team can now participate in national competitions.
“We know eSports has exploded internationally and is now becoming a prominent organized event at the national level,” Shelton said. “University esports gives an opportunity for university’s to be organized to compete against each other in fair and equitable platforms.”