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How eSports Was Introduced to a Filipino High School

01:22 PM January 18, 2016

Take two seemingly conflicting concepts: School and eSports. Until recently, who would have ever thought that they would ever interact with each other positively?

The idea of eSports having a place in schools has been gaining more and more traction. Norwegian high schools have already integrated it into their curriculum. Korea is offering undergraduate degrees that study the eSports industry. Locally, the University of the Philippines – Cebu has featured eSports in their annual intramural week for the past three years. In 2015, it became a permanent fixture.

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READ: eSports is now a major subject in Norway.

With such an increase in general exposure for eSports, others are bound to follow suit. Such is the chain reaction nature of popular culture.

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Photo by Norielle O. Inosanto.

Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas (PSHS-WV), a specialized STEM school in Iloilo City, added eSports to its list of events during their “Humanities and Intramural Week”, which took place from December 9 to 11 of 2015. The aptly dubbed “Etrams” featured students from the various year levels battling it out on the digital arena playing games such as Dota 2 and Super Smash Bros; all in parallel to other ongoing sporting events.

This wasn’t the first time the student body pushed for an eSports-related event. Time and time again, on-campus gaming events were proposed but a lack of school support hindered them from becoming big or even happening.

Paulino “Thirwall” Salmon, an officer of the school’s Sports Development Council, organized an unofficial Dota 2 tournament in October of 2014. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts did not allow the event to finish.

Due to the hiccups, Salmon thought eSports in PSHS-WV was over:

“I thought that was over, my dream of implementing eSports tournaments in the annual Intramural. I thought it’d happen only once.”

But his mantle was picked up by the lower batches. Later on in the year, a team of 10th graders proposed the revival of Salmon’s event. After some debating, the faculty approved said event and slated it to take place alongside the Intramural; as an official event.

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“Why were eSports allowed to join the Intramurals?” asked many. The inclusion of eSports caused controversy with some members of the student body earlier on. Being an event focused on sports, many did not expect videogames to be part of it.

Teachers on the other hand, particularly sports division head Dr. Roy Pacaco, welcomed the idea of having eSports events. “I think that the inclusion of eSports will give students who are not particularly athletic a chance to contribute and be a part of their batch’s Intramural effort,” said Dr. Pacaco.

A Dota 2 fanatic himself, Jesreal “Jigs” Arcillias, PSHS-WV alumnus and former Math teacher stated that having the administration allowing eSports was unheard of during his time:

“I think eSports being considered as part of the Intramural is already an amazing move on its own. Kudos to the school administration. Also, it’s great that some teachers also PLAY these eSports and help in setting up the venue.”

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Panorama of the Dota 2 section in-ingress before being divided into two.

Etrams was met with positive reception, although the CS:GO tournament had to be reduced to free-play due to scheduling conflicts. Multiple alumni and even teachers came out to support the event and played exhibitions with the competitors. Initially, there was to be a livestream on Twitch.tv, but network access dictated otherwise.

“More schools and ours should be taking eSports seriously. It’s close to an actual sport already. It deserves to have a place in the Intramural,” said Chancellor “Chance” Gupeteo,  a visiting alumnus. The event brought out the gamer demographic in droves, attracting the attention of people both young and old.

As students and teachers alike were interviewed, the general consensus was that the event was enjoyable and should be a regular happening.

“I think that this event gave us gamers some time to shine,” Keane “Shadowman” Oreta said when asked about the event’s impact. “It was fun that we were given the chance to compete in the stuff we liked. It should happen again next year, with more games!”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MizWMS3lhv0

Taking first place in Dota 2 over the 10th graders was 8th grade team led by Jester “Sphere” Magan, the highest MMR holding player in the student body. In Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, 9th graders Keane “Shadowman” Oreta and Johannes “Yoh” Maquiling secured a 3-2 victory over the 10th grade team of rating pairs.

“Etrams was fun. I was really happy that my team, who have been practicing since the last Dota 2 tournament, won something!” Sphere quipped. For spectators and competitors alike, Etrams, by all respects, was fun.

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RobExpo, an event by the team in school. Photo by Jimdel Mabaquiao.

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Iloilo Hobby Convention’s Smash Tournament, an event by the team outside of school.

Want to organize a similar event for your school? Here’s our advice: just follow E.A.T.

First, Experience. What made approval easier was that the organizing committee was comprised of members of Caravan eSports, a local event organizing group. Having experience with events both in and out of school meant that they could be trusted.

Second, Approach. If one wants to organize an event, they should exude a positive professional aura that will assure authorities that the idea is worth doing.

Lastly, Timing. When proposing something, make sure that its time-frame will compliment rather than detract the overall flow of activities. Nothing will get approved if it doesn’t fit in the grand scheme of things. For the Etrams, the events were made sure to complement the already existing framework of activities. Instead of creating a dichotomy between sporting and gaming events, both existed harmoniously and contributed to the end score.

The hype was real and the crowds were as well and fun was had in the end, salt aside. All in all, eSports had a good run in its first school-endorsed event in PSHS-WV.

As the trend or shall we say, movement continues, we will see more and more eSports events pop up around the world. It won’t just be limited to the big leagues where teams like Evil Geniuses or Alliance fight for millions of dollars, but it will also spread to where competitive gaming got its start: the grassroots.

 

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