Arcata High School CyberTigers playing Rocket League Feb. 18. Coach Jason Sidell is never far from the action. | Photo by Walker B. True

Humboldt Esports Builds Momentum

Arcata High CyberTigers face off against the Novato High Hornets
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Arcata High CyberTigers face off against the Novato High Hornets

With 15 minutes until start time, Rocket League players sectioned themselves off into corners of a combined Humboldt State University computer lab and classroom in their respective Arcata High School CyberTiger, CyberTiger B and CyberTiger C teams as their coach Jason Sidell turned on some “get psyched” tunes. Sidell isn’t incredibly well-versed in Rocket League, but he is quick to compare it to other sports.

“When people think of esports, they think video games, and I think that they would be surprised if they were to observe our practices,” Sidell said. “Esports is to video gaming what a basketball team is to a pick up game.”

Rocket League players for the CyberTigers faced off against the Novato High School Hornets Feb. 27.

Rocket League, as described by the California Interscholastic Federation, is a fantastical sport-based video game that can be summed up as soccer with cars. It features a competitive game mode based on teamwork and outmaneuvering opponents.

The teams are each made up of 3 players, with the CyberTiger team being more like a varsity team and the B and C teams being more like junior varsity. The matches are best-of-five games, with each game lasting a little over five minutes.

Complete with pizza and La Croix, the HSU Gaming Club hosted a meet and play event for the Arcata High esports team earlier that month that brought an evening full of laughter and good old fashioned competition. The meetup was organized by HSU Gaming Club President Sarah Kanga Livingstone and advisor David Marshall, who reached out to the Arcata High esports team.

“We’ve been trying to reach out more and more to see if we can get more ways of bringing (high school) students on to campus,” Livingstone said.

The CyberTigers and their opponents are registered through a service called PlayVS, which is partnered with the CIF to provide the tournament brackets and infrastructure to run a state-wide league.

The teams are each made up of 3 players, with the CyberTiger team being more like a varsity team and the B and C teams being more like junior varsity. The matches are best-of-five games, with each game lasting a little over five minutes.

Within 20-30 minutes, both the B and C teams’ games were drawing to a close, but the CyberTigers’ Seth Simmons, Jonah Moore and Marley Thrift continued on in a dynamic match against the Hornets, with their coach cheering them on.

“Don’t say nice,” Simmons said as Sidell mistakenly complimented a shot that looked like it was going to go in. “Don’t say anything.”

Remarkably, the C team won while being down a player, and the B team swept their opponents 3-0. The CyberTigers, however, lost their match 3-1.

Vice President of Enrollment Management Jason Meriwether stopped by to welcome the high schoolers as well. Due to the success of the event, the HSU gaming club is currently in the process of planning a gaming tournament for local high school students in mid-April.

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