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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


Strategy in Smash & Skill in League: Esports Club Scores Second at Fall Season State Championships

From October to December, the Esports Club competed in matches for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and League of Legends, ultimately beating two other Smash teams and 14 other League teams to reach finals.
Sydney Nguyen
A poster reading “Rock Ridge E-Sports Team” hangs outside Room 1211, which belongs to math teacher and Esports Club sponsor Logan Flannigan. Flannigan has played Super Smash Bros. since he was about 10 years old and League of Legends since he was about 19. “I love playing League with my friends,” Flannigan said. “I think it’s a great way to meet up with my friends in college that I still play with, that I talk to every day or every other day. So that’s always a nice way to keep in touch.”

There is much to see when walking around the halls of Rock Ridge: signs, murals, decorated doors, and of course, posters. Among the many posters, one stands out in particular; hanging outside Room 1211, a bold red poster invites students to the Esports Club. 

Short for “electronic sports,” esports is a form of organized, competitive gameplay. Through VHSL (The Virginia High School League) and the hosting platform PlayVS, teams from different schools play against each other in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Smash), League of Legends (League), and Rocket League. The Esports Club has two competitive teams for Smash and League, made up of eight students in total.

Math teacher Logan Flannigan first joined as a teacher and started sponsoring the club last year. “I love competing,” Flannigan said. “Back in high school, I ran a video game tournament club where I set on tournaments for other students. We mainly played Pokémon and Super Smash Brothers, so we did Pokémon tournaments in Black and White [versions], and then we did Super Smash Brothers Brawl back in high school – that’s what was out at the time.”

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Besides competing, the club also meets on cardinal activity days for anybody to come in and play Smash, League, and Rocket League. During these casual days, Flannigan says he can have up to 60 students in his room. This year is the fifth year the club has played casually and the second year they’ve participated in competitions.

Competitive matches happen throughout a fall season from mid-September to mid-December and throughout a spring season from late January to late April. Each season is also divided into four phases: the preseason, regular season, playoffs, and finals.

The two-week preseason is optional and allows players to test their equipment and prepare for the regular season. During the nine-week regular season, teams compete after school on Tuesdays (for League) and Wednesdays (for Smash). During these meetings, they also watch their previous games to determine what they did well and what to change.

By the end of the season, the teams are ranked based on their win-loss ratios, and the top teams move on to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament. The last two teams face off at the finals, and one ultimately wins the title.

In the 2023 Fall Season, both of Rock Ridge’s esports teams made it to finals in their respective events, ultimately beating out two other Smash teams and 14 other League teams for 2nd place. Senior Chris Danh played on both teams and has been doing so since Flannigan “just kind of pulled” him out of the hallway last year. “[Competing] was very nice,” Danh said. “I think, for the League, we expected to win, which [why it] is kind of unfortunate that we didn’t [win]. But for Smash, I think we were definitely the underdogs.”

During the Smash semi-finals, the team recovered after being down two games. “It wasn’t just me who did really well,” Danh said. “Our other club member, [junior] Ian [Drew] did really well too. It was nice to see a comeback.”

Drew joined the team this year after seeing a poster in Flannigan’s room, and he’s played Smash since he was 10 or 11 years old. “In the final, when [my friend Chris] was in one of the schools, he was hype, so he beat one of the players,” Drew said. “I was hyping him up. And it just feels really good to motivate your other teammates to do good in a game.”

Even members who didn’t compete enjoyed the experience. Senior Joshua Ponnraj grew up playing Smash with his older brothers and first joined the Esports Club after Danh told him about it mid-last-year. “That was my first time coaching, sort of like [being on the] backlines, and seeing the game from a different perspective,” Ponnraj said. “Seeing my teammates win off of things I was able to give to them – that was pretty nice.”

Now, the team is thinking about their goals for the upcoming Spring Season. “I want to win,” Flannigan said. “And I think all my players want to win too. So, we’re going to try our best, try our hardest, and do everything we can to win, as long as we play fairly.”

Drew echoed that, Ponnraj said his goal is to compete rather than just coach, and Danh said his goal is to improve team communication and have unique, not one-dimensional gameplay.

Overall, the esports team had a successful Fall Season and is ready to move into the Spring Season.

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About the Contributor
Sydney Nguyen
Sydney Nguyen, Design Editor
Sydney Nguyen is a senior and the Design Editor for The Blaze. While creating and designing spreads for the newspaper is one of Sydney’s favorite parts, they also enjoy writing articles. This year, Syd is most looking forward to AP Literature. In the coming year, Sydney plans to go to college and major in computer science while still continuing her hobbies of journalism and graphic design. Sydney especially enjoys the Art and Literature Club and being in the marching band at Rock Ridge as a top bass and saxophone player. Sydney’s favorite activities to do in their free time include drawing, rollerblading, scootering, and biking with their family.

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