Parker Walton trains for upcoming League of Legends match.
Parker Walton trains for upcoming League of Legends match.
Ronald Xu

Mounds View’s new esports program

Esports at Mounds View — new this year

Electronic sports, commonly known as esports, are a form of video gaming competitions. With four different games played competitively at Mounds View, esports offer a variety of ways to compete in video gaming. The organization that runs all high school esports in Minnesota is the Minnesota Varsity League, which consists of over 80 schools and 2000 plus members. It’s relatively easy to join; the only requirements are a 50-dollar entrance fee and a personal device to play on.

The fall season for all esports teams currently has two weeks of preseason, eight weeks of regular season and one week of playoffs. If a player manages to make it through the playoffs, they get to play in the State Tournament. The State Tournament will be held in person at the Mall of America in January.

The esports program does not receive any funding from the school. The district oversees their activity, and input is limited to providing a coach. This means that all competitions are set up by Savannah Vang-Santiago, their lead coordinator and coach. “The school is basically there just to aid in any questions. They don’t give you lessons or coaching, so it’s up to you,” said sophomore Rocket League captain Galvin Wilson. 

For most players, esports are not a full-time commitment, but rather a hobby. Some members are also involved in different activities and even school-sanctioned sports. 

Valorant

Although relatively new, the Mounds View Valorant program has attracted many

players who share a passion for gaming. Due to the high level of interest, Mounds View has three Valorant teams: Varsity, JV1 and JV2. So far, the varsity preseason record sits at 2-0, and their regular season record is 2-1.

The players have expressed that the large interest comes from the skills required to play Valorant at a high level. “Valorant is a team-based first-person shooter game, but at the highest level, the game is very strategy-based,” said junior Michael Kivinen, a varsity team member. 

Valorant is a team-based first-person shooter game, but at the highest level, the game is very strategy-based.

— Michael Kivinen, '25

Another reason many players joined the Valorant teams is because they want to compete against others passionate about the game; some even have thought about competing professionally. “Esports/gaming is a big part of my life. I have dedicated so much time to it, and it’s a passion I want to pursue later in life as well. […] I want to continue to play the games I enjoy and dedicate even more time to climb the ranks and hopefully eventually even compete professionally,” said senior Evan Zumbolo, JV1 captain.

The Valorant team may not be well known compared to other activities, but it has certainly gained a lot of attention during its first year at Mounds View. Moving forward, they have high hopes of making it to the state championships. “We are gonna win state champs,” said senior John Lim, a Valorant team member.

League of Legends

League of Legends is a multiplayer battle arena video game where players work together with their team to defeat other teams.

The captain of the League of Legends team, senior Ronald Xu, joined the team with some of his friends after Mounds View announced the start of the esports program. “League of Legends is a very complicated game, with advanced mechanics and strategies. Because of the difficulty of the game, it’s all the more satisfying to watch and contest at a competitive level,” said Xu. He added that he enjoys the bonding experience when his team coordinates together to complete an objective. 

Because of the difficulty of the game, it’s all the more satisfying to watch and contest at a competitive level.

— Ronald Xu, '24

The team plays every Tuesday at 5 pm against other high school teams. The eight teams that perform the best go on to play in the State Tournament. While the season may have started off rough for the team, with a current record of 2-3, they continue to work hard, and they believe they can be one of the eight teams to make it to state. “We had a rough start, but I firmly believe that we can make a comeback,” said Xu.

Super Smash Bros

Super Smash Bros features a unique gaming format, exclusively focusing on one-on-one matches. Each match is composed of three distinct “teams,” with only one player on each team. “The team-based games like Valorant have group practices, but for Super Smash Bros, we don’t really practice together,” said Elias Hagfors, senior Super Smash Bros player. Hagfors highlights that since it’s a solo game there’s really no need for group practices.

The team-based games like Valorant have group practices, but for Super Smash Bros, we don’t really practice together.

— Elias Hagfors, '24

Like many of the players, Hagfors joined the esports program through Mounds View’s promotions and doesn’t take playing too seriously. “I got into Esports through a link from a school announcement,” he said. “It’s just a side hobby, I don’t feel too competitive about this.”

Despite the absence of team practices, the competitive structure and season follow a similar format as other esports games.

Rocket League

One of the four Mounds View esports teams, Rocket League, consists of three players: freshman Elliot Fuglsby, senior Birgen Endberg and sophomore Captain Gavin Wilson. “Rocket League is a competitive game where you play soccer with customizable cars. It can get pretty advanced on technique, but it’s fun no matter if you’re a beginner or a pro,” said Wilson.

The Rocket League team competes in 2v2 matches, meaning that only two of the members can play at a time. They take it upon themselves to choose which players play which rounds, and with a smaller team, they seem to have no trouble organizing themselves. “We work well together, and switch off who plays what game,” said Wilson.

I loved how there was so much to the game, and it combined my favorite sport with my favorite hobby, which is working on cars

Wilson personally enjoys the game because it combines two of his interests. “I had been playing soccer for a while and I looked up video games related to it. I loved how there was so much to the game, and it combined my favorite sport with my favorite hobby, which is working on cars,” he said.

Are esports really sports?

It is clear that there is no definite answer as to whether or not esports are truly considered a sport. While some say the competitiveness and strategic knowledge needed to excel in esports qualifies them as a sport, others argue that the lack of physical ability simply does not match the traditional meaning of what a sport is.

 According to the New York Post, over half of all Americans believe video games should be an option in the Olympics. From competitions to teams, esports have many components similar to what a traditional sport would have, not to mention the extensive hours of practice required to excel. On the other hand, gaming simply does not include full-body coordination or physical athleticism, as would something like basketball, which would not fit the standard definition of sport.

Opinions vary among the Mounds View esports players. “It is definitely a competition, but it does not require any physical activity or stress like a real sport would,” says junior Michael Kivinen, Valorant player. Kivinen emphasizes that esports really do not require full-body capabilities, and, thus, should not be considered a sport. 

Kivinen is not the only esports player who agrees they are not a real sport. “[Esports do not] require rigorous physical activity like sports, so I consider them as just competitions,” said senior Elias Hagfors, Super Smash Bros player.

I think the fact that there are competitions, teams that play against each other for prizes and the fact that it’s extremely hard to be one of the best in the world at it could mean that esports could be considered a sport.

— Evan Zumbolo, '24

However, some players see esports as a legitimate sport. “I think the fact that there are competitions, teams that play against each other for prizes and the fact that it’s extremely hard to be one of the best in the world at it could mean that esports could be considered a sport,” said senior Evan Zumbolo, JV Valorant Captain. Zumbolo argues that because many factors of esports assimilate with traditional sports, they could definitely be considered real sports. 

With opinions on both sides, whether esports is truly a real sport comes down to personal interpretation of the “sport” definition.

Are esports a "sport?"

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Anna Honebrink, Staff Reporter
Anna is a junior staff reporter, and this year is her first year on The Viewer.
Matthew Betti, Staff Reporter
Matthew is a sophomore staff reporter, and this year is his first year on The Viewer.
Gloria Liu, Sports Editor
Hi, my name is Gloria, and I'm the debates and sports editor for the Viewer! I'm currently a junior. In my free time, I love listening to music, photography and watching horror movies. I love being a part of the Viewer because it's a very unique class compared to other classes and also allows me to improve my writing skills. I love being with my peers and hope to inspire younger students to join the Viewer.
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