RBHS esports team takes third, fourth place at state championship

Photo+by+Desmond+Kisida.

Desmond Kisida

Photo by Desmond Kisida.

Ketti Horton

The RBHS Green and Gold Rocket League teams took home third and fourth place trophies respectively at the Missouri Esports State Championships in St. Louis, Missouri Saturday Nov. 13. The 2021 state tournament was the first ever in-person high school gaming state championship in the U.S. Coached by RBHS faculty member Matthew Pryor, the team was able to make history, not only for the school’s esports program, but also for esports around the country.

RBHS brought two Rocket League teams this year, RBHS Gold and Green. RBHS Green won their opening game against Central High School, but then fell to Lindbergh High School in the second round. The RBHS Gold team lost their initial round to Saint Louis University High School, but their loss landed them in the consolation bracket. This resulted in the RBHS Green and RBHS Gold battling against each other for the third place trophy. 

“It was a wild feeling to play the team we had been working with all year for our final positions in state,” senior player Michael Mullen said. “We played really well and it was a great experience.” 

Throughout the regular season, both RBHS teams also practiced with the Hickman High school (HHS) team.

“Our Rocket League teams came in third and fourth at state. But the Gold team was undefeated through their regular season,” Pryor said. “I also coach the Hickman [HHS]  Rocket League team, and they won nationals last year. The [RBHS] practices for Rocket League are a mixture of the RBHS and HHS teams because they are all good friends.”

The team was originally supposed to carpool to St. Louis and meet up at the tournament due to lack of funding for a bus, but one player’s family decided to rent a limo for both the RBHS and HHS state qualifying teams. 

“A lot of times esports gets overlooked because it’s not as big as other sports at RBHS. It was nice to have a parent who recognized how big this was for the team and how hard these guys worked,” said Pryor. “They were upset that they weren’t taking a bus together because of the comradery and togetherness those bus rides bring.”

Sophomore Jacob Hayes said the magnitude of the event being the first ever in-person esports state level competition created a once in a lifetime experience. 

“I thought it was really cool. It was cool to play in front of a crowd,” Hayes said. “I had never done something like that before. Playing in front of a crowd was new but it was definitely a pretty good experience.”

Hayes also said that the limo was a great way to top off the already unique experience.

“It was great, it was really fun. We got to be in there with 14 friends and blasting music, talking and chilling out,” Hayes said. “The lights were going, and we also got McDonalds.”

Mullen had similar feelings about the tournament. He started playing esports at RBHS in Feb. of 2021. 

“To play in front of a crowd like that was a surreal experience. It was the kind of thing you see on T.V., or you see professionals experience. You would hear the crowd react to everything you did, chanting for you and against you, and the nerves overtaking your body,” Mullen said. “It was the kind of thing I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Pryor said the RBHS esports team started last year with about 30 to 40 members, but has grown to over 100. 

“Esports has grown massively in the past few years. If you want a place to find other students who are passionate about competitive esports and work hard to become the best player they can then look no further. The games we support are Valorant, Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends and Smash Brothers ultimate,” Pryor said. “We are also always looking for talented content creators to boost our team’s media presence to new heights.”

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