ATLANTA - The GHSA crowned a pair of new high school state champions in esports this week. Pickens High School and East Coweta High School won titles in the event hosted at Mount Vernon School in Atlanta.
Esports, a term for competitive video games, is in its second year as an official high school sport in the state. Currently, two games are offered: "League of Legends," which is a 5-on-5 battle arena game; and "Rocket League," which is a 3-on-3 game that looks like soccer, but played by futuristic race cars.
Wednesday's event was held in Mount Vernon's black box theater, providing fans an opportunity to be in the same room as the competitors, which watching a broadcast of the event on big screens. That created an atmosphere with lots of cheering when big moments happened. That can be a new type of experience for these gamers, who are typically playing together in a school computer lab against opponents many miles away at their own school.
"Up to the final game, it is intimidating," said Pickens senior Mason Watkins. "It is nerve-wracking, but at the very end, it's so much worth it having the fans there, cheering you on."
East Coweta was crowned champions in "League of Legends," winning their best-of-three series against Lambert High School 2-1. Pickens defended their "Rocket League" state championship, taking their best-of-seven series against Forsyth Central 4-1.
"You just see the competition growing more and more tough as it goes," said Pickens senior Carter Logan. "You feel like you earned it more every single time. You feel like there's more to work towards, more of a reason to keep playing in the offseason."