The lesser-known sport

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When thinking of sports, most people tend to think of outdoor activities like basketball, football, and baseball. Due to the closure of schools, restaurants, and sports over the last eight months, Townsend Harris students have scrambled to create a new definition of normal without risking exposure to COVID-19. This has resulted in many Townsend Harris students switching from physical sports to Esports, competitive video games broadcasted through streaming services such as YouTube or Twitch. Many Harrisites have entered this new territory during quarantine to expand their domain of entertainment. 

Esports are typically played at home, as professionals go head to head to reign victorious. Major games that are watched are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Fortnite, and League of Legends, among others.

Senior Xandria Crosland provided some insight on how Esports work and what she watches. “The Esports I watch are Overwatch League, League of Legends, and some twitch rival tournaments, which have different games every tournament.” She said that she watches them because “it is interesting to see high level/skilled players come together and play the game the best way possible.” Since Xandria is also a gamer on her own time, she has used many tips and tricks from these professionals in her own gameplay. Xandria says that Esports has helped her during this pandemic because watching them over Twitch streams helped her stay occupied and playing them gave her “more of a chance to play and bond with [her] friends.” 

Students have shared their mixed feelings on how the pandemic has shaped Esports’ operation this year. “Esports have impacted competition because usually, there would be stadiums hosting the teams, but that’s not happening anymore,” said Freshman Eduardo Calero. “There are some fixes to this, such as teams communicating virtually, but overall, I think it has been impacted pretty negatively.” However, freshman Carl Go disagreed, saying, “Esports have been impacted by the pandemic in a positive way.” He believes that as students have more free time on their hands, the pandemic “is allowing for a larger viewership, which ultimately brings in more revenue and profit [for those who play.]”

With the pandemic causing many aspects of people’s lives to shut down, Esports has given students a way to maintain some normalcy in their lives, and take care of their mental health. Carl said, “None of us [students] have been able to socialize much. Esports give us an opportunity to not only socialize, but build teamwork [and relationships] that many would really only be able to make in person.” 

“Watching Esports has basically saved my sanity,” Xandria added. “I’ve gotten more of a chance to play with friends.” Eduardo agreed that the games gave him a sense of normality because he was able to communicate with his friends without being in their physical presence. “You can bond and interact over the game similar to how people can bond and interact in real life,”  he concluded.

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