School Beat: Rockford High School eSports Club

By Robert Stull

Director of Information Technology, Rockford Public Schools

Rockford Public Schools will be launching an eSports club in the near future.   With the adoption of eSports by different colleges and universities, and considering how rapidly this venue is growing, it is a great opportunity for students to be able to participate in a school-run club.

We have started the process of defining a space to be used for this activity and evaluating the equipment that will be needed.   Most likely it will be a dual-purpose area that will be used for Computer Science curriculum during the school day and for eSports activities at designated times.  RPS is still determining the games that will be used, but are considering many, including Rocket League, League of Legends, and OverWatch.

As eSports is a rapidly developing arena, it is in a constant state of adjustment as far as competitive tournaments and the rules that are used to judge.   There is a lot of activity in recent months from colleges and other advisory boards about how to standardize judgement and rules for different games.   Rockford will have to choose a standard to compete with and will work with other local institutions to determine what will be used.

Many other local high schools, including East Kentwood, West Catholic, Lowell and East Grand Rapids, have already formed, or are in the process of forming, eSports clubs, and Davenport and Aquinas have already established Varsity teams in eSports.

To illustrate how rapidly eSports is growing, it is projected that by 2021 the only professional sport that will have more viewership than eSports will be the NFL.  Individuals such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is a celebrity in his own right with many others joining the ranks.

We are very excited about this opportunity and we look forward to configuring and building the environment.  I would like to give special thanks to Maggie Thelen, Rockford’s Director of Instructional Technology, for taking the lead on this project and bringing it to life in the RPS district.