Amidst a successful return to athletics this fall, Kingswood Oxford’s newest team has emerged as a staple of campus, representing the possibilities that the future of sports holds among the community. Founded in 2020, the KO e-sports team has begun its first official season as a team, breaking new ground and building connections, all while hoping to find victory on the virtual playing field.
Championed by French teacher and Head Coach Ryan Brodeur, the idea of a competitive e-sports team first surfaced in the summer of 2020. After numerous deliberations on the best way to get students involved in extracurricular activities during the pandemic, Coach Brodeur presented to the athletic department an opportunity through the company Playverse to kickstart a trial of e-sports at KO. After the idea grew in popularity throughout the 2020-21 school year, Coach Brodeur, with help from KO’s IT professionals Dan Bateson and Erik Durr, designed a plan to implement e-sports as an actual option for the fall of 2021.
For Coach Brodeur, e-sports presented itself as a perfect opportunity to share his lifelong passion for video games in a productive setting with the rest of the community. “I love video games,” Coach Brodeur said. “I’ve loved them since I was a kid, and I think [e-sports] is a really cool opportunity, because it’s a thing that is starting to gain momentum.” That sentiment has rung true for students as well.
Senior Aliza Sadiq has enjoyed her first month on the team, saying that a passion for e-sports, as well as a sense of camaraderie, are very high within the group. “Mr. Brodeur creates a really supportive environment in e-sports,” Sadiq said, “so even beginner players feel very comfortable. He makes practice fun and is always willing to help out when you feel stuck.”
The e-sports team itself has 14 students, and, by popular demand, Coach Brodeur has hosted open gaming sessions for the Upper School during PLB.
With regard to the team’s makeup, all e-sports players are a part of one of four subgroups, based on the specific game they play. The four games that players are currently able to compete in are “League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Splatoon 2,” and “Super Smash Brothers.” In these groups, communication, teamwork, and accountability are vital so that the squad can stay on the same page and find success within their matches. “Just like in any other game, there are roles that they have to play, and so knowing those roles, and how they support each other, will help them find success,” Coach Brodeur said.
Despite the balance of experienced gamers and those who are new to the world of e-sports, the team has quickly sprung into action, playing preseason matches during the week of Sept. 20. The difference between e-sports in comparison to traditional athletic teams is that e-sports plays in a conference, and they have faced off against opponents in Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Looking ahead, the squad will gear up for their first official matches.
“I’m definitely looking forward to real matches,” junior Captain William Jacobs said. “As a team, we’re kind of focusing on communication and getting each other to develop the skills we think we need to work on,”
KO’s newest sports team has quickly emerged as a success in a previously unknown part of campus. While most teams gear up for matches on the turf or grass fields, you can find the e-sports team in the bottom of Roberts working on their craft, pursuing their passion for gaming, and fostering a strong community of cohesion and team spirit.