At the end of the second week of the Alaska high school esports season, Soldotna High School coach Jonus Kaponus-Angleton said that this a development season for the Stars. He said his main focus was on growing the program and recruiting players.
The Stars have teams registered for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and League of Legends. Kaponus-Angleton said that technical issues have so far prevented them from competing in Mario Kart, and they’ve been having trouble getting a full five players together to compete in League.
Kaponus-Angleton said that some of the Rocket League players have been filling in for League, but the skill-sets don’t have a lot of overlap. Rocket League evokes soccer and has players driving cars and flying through the air — League is a tactical game where players direct units across the battlefield.
In pursuit of growth, Kaponus-Angleton said he wants to see his players out in the community, connecting with local businesses and fundraising.
“Without the community knowing what (esports) is, it just appears that kids are playing video games after school. But it’s more than that,” Kaponus-Angleton said. He described team dynamics, strategy, game theory, and opportunities — both in regards to further education and career development.
Last season, Soldotna’s Rocket League team qualified for the state championship, ultimately falling in the semifinals to Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High School.
Kaponus-Angleton said that the team is back this year, with more experience.
“They feel confident,” Kaponus-Angleton said. “Developing their skills and communication.”
The Stars benefited from a forfeit by last week’s opponent, but Kaponus-Angleton said that just meant they missed a chance to compete.
This week, the Stars swept White Mountain School, rising to 2-0 and second in the league, behind only Steller Secondary School.
Rocket League is like soccer, but with cars. Games are played with three players on each side. The team that knocks the ball in the goal the most times wins.
League of Legends
Neither Kenai nor Soldotna’s League of Legends teams saw action this week. SoHi forfeited and fell to 0-2 in the league, having lost to Mat-Su Central last week. Kenai had a bye week, but forfeited last week. Two forfeits disqualify a team from championship contention, so neither team can afford another forfeit.
League of Legends is a tactics based fantasy game where teams of five players battle for territory. The victor ultimately claims their opponent’s base.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Kenai is fielding four Smash teams. Kenai 1 claimed a 2-1 victory over Seward High School, rising to 2-0 and fourth in the league.
With the loss to Kenai, Seward drops to 1-1 and seventh in the league.
Kenai 2 was swept by Chugiak High School, for a record of 1-1, falling to ninth in the league.
Nikiski forfeited to Service High School, falling to 1-1 and 10th in the league.
Kenai 3 had a bye, Kenai 4 swept Chief Ivan Blunka School to rise to 11th in the league.
Soldotna took a 2-1 loss to Valdez High School, falling 0-2 and 21st in the league.
Smash is a platform fighting game where players compete to launch their competition out of the arena. Games are played in a best of three series of one-on-one bouts.
Kenai was swept by top-ranked Kauai High School of Hawaii, falling to 1-1 and fifth in the Coastal Region. Last week, they swept Island Pacific Academy, also of Hawaii.
Mario Kart is a colorful racing game where players throw items like shells and bananas at their opponents to trip them up. Players compete in teams of three.
Madden NFL 23
This week’s game was not displayed within PlayVS as of 7 p.m. Thursday, but Kenai coach Matthew Cross said that Kenai’s Marcus Wong was set to play a school from California, which forfeited. Wong previously swept California’s North High School, and now sits at 2-0 in the Pacific Region.
Madden NFL is a football simulation game, and is the only esports game being played in local schools with a team of only one player.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.