LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The stage was set Saturday night, for the best CHSAA gamers across the state.
“I just love the atmosphere,” said Cherry Creek high school senior Vlad Dolzhenko. “I love the people. And I don’t know, I love the nature of competition itself.”
Esports was approved as pilot activity in 2019, giving hundreds more the chance to be part of an after-school activity this year.
“I think it’s very important because for people who aren’t very capable physically—they like playing games more—I think it’s a really good opportunity for them be involved and have fun, while still being competitive,” said Gateway High School senior Kevin Tran.
Both students squared off against each other in the first League of Legends championship, which consists of five students on each team.
The semi-finals and finals were hosted at Localhost, in Lakewood.
It’s the first time in the head-to-head sport that the teams have had the chance to come face-to-face.
"There’s a lot more pressure from people watching and from people basically shot calling and broadcasting live,” said Dolzhenko, referring to the playoffs being broadcasted on a live streaming platform for gamers, called Twitch.
He says normally teams compete against each other inside their respective schools.
“We have two labs in Cherry Creek High School. We usually compete on Tuesdays, after school, at 4:30 in one of the labs,” Dolzhenko explained.
Students say League of Legends isn’t all that different from some of the more traditional team sports.
“In soccer, they play on a team [and] they put trust in their players. The same thing goes for League of Legends. You heavily rely on your teammates when it comes to shot calling, making plays, and just winning the game in general,” said Dolzhenko.
“You would think that it’s just kids pushing buttons as fast as they can push them. But it’s really tactical, strategic games that the kids are participating in,” said Arvada West Assistant Principal Shawn Collins, who also a chairman for CHSAA’s Esports Committee.
“It takes a lot of thought and a lot of teamwork to make it happen,” Collins added.
Cherry Creek High School took home the hardware Saturday night in the best of three showdown, in the first of what CHSAA hopes will be many high school Esports championships.
“We had over 50 teams this year for League of Legends. It’s growing faster and faster every week, so it’s really exciting to see the growth,” said Collins.
It could become a sanctioned sport as early as 2022.
“It’s really exciting for Colorado to kind of be able to go to that new frontier,” Collins concluded.