The Michigan High School Esports League hosted their state championship grand finals at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center on Saturday Dec 11.
The competition involved more than 30 schools and 121 teams and it was the first in-person championship event that has been held by the league. The three games selected for competition were Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Nintendo Switch, Rocket League and League of Legends on PC.
The teams involved in the championship games were Northville vs. Novi in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dakota vs. Anchor Bay in Rocket League, and Northville vs. East Kenwood in League of Legends. Spectators viewed matches being played in both exhibition and scrimmage areas during the events.
The competition shows how far the popularity of gaming has gone and it gives an opportunity for interested students to learn from, engage with, and compete against other students from across the state.
“Knowing that in-person events were returning for schools, we wanted to provide a championship event for the teams to experience just as traditional athletes would,” Ryan Cayce, the director of Digital Learning & Resources for the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals said. “We began working with our partners at EMU to design an event that would not only honor and showcase the teams in the finals, but also provide an educational component where other students, parents, school personnel could watch, learn and experience all that competitive esports has to offer.”
About 150 students participated in the event, and the MASSP was excited about the turnout due to difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Ultimately, East Kenwood for League of Legends, Dakota for Rocket League, and Novi for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were crowned state champions in their respective games, making Dakota a three-time state champion in Rocket League and East Kenwood a two-time state champion in League of Legends.
“The event had the same environment as a Friday Night football game or volleyball championship,“ Cayce said. “Students competed, congratulated one another, all while fans were cheering throughout the matches.”
Esports is a growing movement and these state championships show that it has the potential to be taken as seriously as any other athletic sport or competition.
“Esports is a $180+ billion global industry that is not going to go away,“ Cayce said. "We want to provide additional opportunities for students to be involved in extra-curricular activities that correlate to skills needed for college and career opportunities, especially in the STEM fields.”
MAASP is planning on offering in-person league championships in April or May of 2022.