Esports teams from Kenai, Nikiski and Soldotna all made appearances in playoff matches Tuesday, in all three video games played as part of Alaska School Activities Association action.
Kenai teams are moving to finals and semifinals in League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while both Nikiski and Soldotna’s teams saw their playoff runs concluded.
League of Legends
League of Legends is a fantasy video game where two teams of five compete in a strategic battle for territory — advancing up three lanes and controlling the jungle between them.
Kenai Central High School, which entered the state championship ranked third in the state, advanced to the state final after delivering a sweep to second-ranked Lathrop High School.
The final is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Kardinals will face either the top seed, Mat-Su Central Schools Black, or the fourth seed Anchorage Christian Schools. Mat-Su and Anchorage Christian are set to compete for the other finals slot on Friday.
Kenai coach Shane Lopez said that the Kardinals were successful at controlling both games throughout their bout with Lathrop. He attributed that success to the team’s communication, as well as Roman Dunham’s control of the jungle, Cody Good’s aggression and skilled support play from Dain Douthit.
Douthit emerged from the action without a single death on his record, a very significant metric of success for support players in general, who are responsible for healing and empowering their teammates.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash is a platform fighting game with a roster of characters licensed from other video games including Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter and Kingdom Hearts.
Kenai Central 1 advanced to the state semifinals by defeating Nikiski Middle/High School in a Tuesday match. Kage Adkins and Good of Kenai both swept their Bulldogs opponents, ending the match 2-0. They will have to contend with Service High School on Thursday, ranked second in the state and one of two teams to best Kenai 1 earlier this season.
Kenai Central 2, which entered the championship at the eighth seed, was faced with the top-ranked team in the state, Hutchison High School. The team was eliminated but managed to take a point off of Hutchison, finishing 2-1. Lopez said Sye Stacey brought home that point with “a very good game” against a top player.
Rocket League is visually very similar to soccer, with two teams of three giant rocket-powered cars chasing a ball around the field and shooting for goals.
The Soldotna Stars were the only Kenai Peninsula team in Rocket League action, entering the championship at the fourth seed. They were faced with the challenge of rematching top-ranked Nome/Beltz Sr/Jr High School.
Soldotna coach Jonus Kaponus-Angleton said ahead of the start of the playoffs that Nome had been a particular problem for the Stars, and they would have to overcome some significant mental hurdles to overcome the team. The Stars ultimately fell to Nome and were eliminated.