By Mike Deak
AKRON – The game just seemed to fit, and a cheat code wasn’t needed.
Tippecanoe Valley has turned to the idea of a potential jump into the esports world, and after some consideration, the game is ready to begin.
“We are 100 percent moving forward with the club, it is just with the (COVID) situation we have not been able to sign up for the Indiana Esports League yet,” said Tippecanoe Valley principal Brandon Kresca in late June. “It is safe to say that we will have an esports club.”
The gaming movement will find its way to the outskirts of Kosciusko and Fulton counties as one of the fast-growing competition formats in the world. As noted with the feature IFN ran on Grace College’s jump into esports yesterday, esports isn’t just a trendy topic reserved for gamers and the underground.
The League of Legends World Championships not only kept up, but surpassed the Super Bowl in total viewers at over 100 million worldwide in its competition played in November in South Korea. The North American version of that tournament series in April had over 600,000 concurrent viewers online.
Valley’s inclusion into the new frontier will likely come within one of two organizations: the Indiana High School Esports Network (IHSEN) that governs just Indiana high school play, or PlayVs, which currently oversees high school play in all 50 states and manages 22 varsity esports state championships.
Led by Nick Deranek and Jonathan Tinkey, the club will function as would any other participation sport. There are set guidelines for both behavioral and physical conduct, as well as practice plans and gameplay strategy sessions. Think film study for a football team, esports has the same functional learning curve.
Listed in an information pack offered by Tinkey, Valley would likely play League of Legends and Rocket League whether in IHSEN or PlayVs leagues. If Valley chooses IHSEN, games added would include Overwatch and Hearthstone, and with PlayVs add in Fortnite and SMITE.
“This program started when students initiated inquiries about starting an esports program at Tippecanoe Valley High School,” Tinkey said. “There was a survey that occurred on May 25 to gauge the interest level of the students would be for an esports program. At the conclusion of the survey, there were 51 positive responses. A significant number of those responding were from female students. E-Sports at Tippecanoe Valley High School will be a co-ed sport. The teams will be configured based on merit and ability not based on their gender. The co-ed aspect of E-Sports is worldwide.”
Valley’s computer labs are the likely destination to house gameplay stations. The school did not specify to what extent it would furnish equipment, but did lay out routes for varsity and junior varsity teams as well as an intramural team to play in-house.
Esports at Tippecanoe Valley is open to both boys and girls, but does require those interested to be at least 13 years of age. The games are all rated E (for everyone) or T (for teen/13).
The IHSEN, as of the July 10, had over 40 schools involved in its network, some as close as Wabash, Goshen and East Noble.