With only a month left in the season, the KO esports team is battling fiercely to keep their perfect record. The team is led by Head Coach Ryan Brodeur who keeps his players relaxed and focused on their goals.
Both the “Mario Kart” Black and Red teams have started out 2-0, with convincing wins over Ridge Christian Academy, located in Davenport, Fla. and Parkersburg High School in West Virginia.
A standard “Mario Kart” game consists of a best-of-three series where each team races four players. To win just one game, a team needs to win more cumulative points than their opponent over six separate racing tracks. This season, both teams have not needed to play the third set in any of the matches, sweeping every match.
Coach Brodeur emphasizes to his players how positivity can go a long way and is the fuel for come-from-behind wins and overall dominance, although he acknowledges his team has been first-class in teammate support and staying positive. “In ‘Splatoon,’ it can be really demoralizing if you run into a mode that is maybe not your best and the other team is really good at that,” he said. “They can just run in, and you just absolutely get clobbered.”
He prepares the team by having conversations like this because in esports, instead of having a set schedule at the beginning of the season, matchmaking allows teams that are winning throughout the season to play other teams that are winning, so every week has a better outcome of creating fair matches for everyone.
Currently, the “Mario Kart” Black team is ranked third on the East Coast, and the Red team is ranked fifth. Overall, over 70 teams compete every week in the fall season. For “Splatoon,” the KO team is ranked 17th.
Junior Co-captain Drake Fernald is new to the team but has experience in gaming. He is a valued member of the “Splatoo”n team and backup for the “Mario Kart” Black team. He is often seen practicing his skills and logging in extra hours to motivate his teammates.
As a captain, it is important for him to read what his teammates are feeling to give them a supportive pat on the back or pick-me-up when needed. “Game modes like Turf War, or Tower Blitz are short but always under five minutes,” Fernald said. “So you have to make sure that everyone stays positive because as soon as one person gets negative, then it’s going to destroy the whole team.”
This negativity, however, does not always come from within. A challenge that the program faces does not come from within but from the outside criticism they face from others who have never played the sport. “When I was a student, if you ran cross country, people would say you’re not an athlete or if you swam, you’re not an athlete,” Coach Brodeur said, “but none of that’s true. And so, those have been the two things that we have faced, I think, more this year than in the past.” Despite this, the team has continued to succeed.
As the season progresses, Coach Brodeur is leaning on certain players to anchor both teams. Junior “Splatoon” player Kayla Buttaro showed strong signs of improvement despite this also being her first year on the team. “Buttaro has been one who has brought a lot of experience, a lot of practice, and passion for it,” Coach Brodeur said. “She’s been a standout.”
Sophomore “Mario Kart” player Riley Mapp has stepped up his role from last year – from mainly competing in “Super Smash Brothers,” to being a part of the “Mario Kart” Red and “Splatoon” teams. This young team led by a number of underclassmen has a very bright future, and we look forward to seeing their continued success.