eSports Takes Over Local CNY High School Esports Takes Over Local CNY High School

CAMILLUS, N.Y. (NCC News) — eSports is one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide, but the term is still confusing for many non-fans. What is eSports? What makes eSports different from simply playing video games?

For starters, eSports has a massive global audience that appeals to the younger generation where traditional sports struggle, with estimates of nearly half-a-billion fans playing video games or streaming content.

Most people think eSports are just sports video games like FIFA, 2K, Madden, or MLB The Show; however, many of the popular eSports are video games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Call of Duty.

A chart depicts the growth of global esports fans from 2016-2020
eSports is already one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide.
© 2023 Michael O'Connor

Here in Central New York, schools like West Genesee High School have recognized the sport’s growing popularity and have even formed official eSports teams.

Scott English, the eSports coach at West Genesee High School, says the club helps connect students to the community who have struggled to find a place to fit in.

“What really got me wanting to start this is going to our high school pep rallies and seeing all these kids that are in the stands that don’t have a reason to say they’re part of the school,” English said. “They don’t do certain sports. They don’t have a place where they feel that they belong. This is that opportunity.”

Students play video games in the eSports room at West Genesee High School
West Genesee’s eSports team competes virtually against schools across the country using PlayVS
© 2023 Michael O'Connor

Students like Will Young say the team has given them a group they feel they can belong to while finding new passions.

“This is just something that was kind of a hobby and then I started taking it really seriously,” Young said. “Now it’s really just a lot of fun honestly.”

The sport is much more accessible and easier to pick up than traditional sports, something English says he’s proud of.

“I can’t watch football and get better at football, but I can watch somebody doing some of these games and learn some of the moves that they’re doing in order to improve my ability,” English said.

To compete against other schools, English says the team uses a website called PlayVS, which allows them to connect with other players and compete against teams from across the country.

This year, PlayVS will host and sponsor regional championships like the one the team at West Genesee won last year. The tournament will feature teams from across the country competing for a $7,500 scholarship; and for students interested in pursuing eSports further, Syracuse University announced it will launch a new eSports major for the fall 2024 semester.

With the team at West Genesee High School continuing to grow and the potential to pursue eSports as a career, English says he’s excited for the future of eSports in CNY.

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