BY NICK JONES & GEORGE KOEHLER
The Atari 2600 was released on September 11, 1977. Since then, video games have been a popular form of entertainment worldwide. Forty-three years later, esports is a major growing industry with over 80 events in 2020. Just this year, Mariemont created its own esports program, for high-schoolers to compete in the state of Ohio.
With the season starting March 9th, Mariemont esports coach, Nathan Eten is preparing for an exciting inaugural season.
Currently, the Mariemont esports program has teams for Rocket League, Overwatch, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Eten said, “If the game is not offered, it is because the esports Ohio League does not offer it for competitive play.” Other games offered by the league but not by Mariemont are Fortnite, Hearthstone, and League of Legends. The only reason that these games are not offered at Mariemont is because there aren’t enough students who have shown interest.
“The league does take suggestions and has added a couple of games since its inception, so they are always open to player feedback, said Eten. For a new game to be added, the game would have to have a rating of “Teen” and be approved by the league.
Eten said he has had a lot of fun coaching the teams. His main focus as a coach is to let the players play their game because most of them have hundreds of hours of playtime. However, he also aims to help each player with their self-confidence by encouraging them as they play. He says a big part of competing is working together to play to their highest potential.
The Ohio esports competitions work differently than professional competitions work. The competitions are all played online against other teams across the state. Rocket League is 3 players v. 3 players and Overwatch is 6 v. 6.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is 1 v. 1 with 5 players from each team. Mariemont’s #1 player goes against the other team’s #1 player, and Mariemont’s #2 player plays against the other team’s #2 player, etc.
Within the different games, teams must play by special rules. For example, banning arenas, maps, and choosing the color of their team.
Mariemont plays against teams from the Greater Cincinnati area: Forest Hills (Turpin and Anderson), Moeller, and Elder.
Eten said, “With competition being online we also have the potential of playing schools like Colonel Crawford, which is up past Columbus or Four County Career Center, which is closer to Toledo.”
Eten said that Mariemont has not created an official channel for live video stream yet, but that is something he plans to do eventually. “I’m talking with a couple of different people about the possibility of broadcasting an esports match with a live shoutcaster (announcer).”
Imagine a Sunday Night Football game with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth reacting to the game and explaining why a certain play was run.
“I think it’ll be really awesome and want to embrace this side of esports because it offers a great opportunity to students since esports will be around for a long time.”
Currently, teams play in the orchestra room, not big enough to host spectators, but Mr. Eten hopes to find a place big enough to host a crowd.
McClain Lemay is one of the Rocket League players for the new Mariemont Esports team. He was willing to give some insider information about how this new sport at Mariemont will work.
During the game, the players have a lot to pay attention to, no matter which game they compete in.
When Lemay was asked what aspects he felt were important to pay attention to in Rocket League, he responded, “You want to focus a lot on learning how it (the player’s car) can flip and rotate in the air to hit the ball the right way. Flying through the air is a huge aspect, being able to keep your car in control in the air is very important. There are also aspects involving teammates such as positioning and always having a guy on the ball, between the ball and our goal, and a guy playing goalie in the back.”
Although the games are played on PCs, the players have the option to play using controllers plugged into the PCs. McClain says that playing with a keyboard and mouse is not a very popular way to play among Mariemont’s players and the majority use controllers.