No sports games to watch? Well, there’s still Lancer eSports

While+the+Lancer+eSports+team+can+continue+CIF+league+play+from+each+player%27s+home%2C+players+are+uncertain+about+their+chances+of+retaining+its+championship+title+at+the+North+America+Scholastic+Esports+Federation+as+that+tournament+has+suspended+all+league+play+until+further+notice+because+of+the+coronavirus+threat.+Image+used+with+permission+from+Myra+Deister.

While the Lancer eSports team can continue CIF league play from each player's home, players are uncertain about their chances of retaining its championship title at the North America Scholastic Esports Federation as that tournament has suspended all league play until further notice because of the coronavirus threat. Image used with permission from Myra Deister.

Annie Bang

While the Fullerton Joint Union High School District has canceled or postponed spring sports until May 4, one “sports” activity has yet to be foiled by the coronavirus crisis.

As of Thursday, March 19, the Sunny Hills eSports team will continue with its designated competitions for the PlayVS season, the CIF sanctioned league, with currently no mention of cancellation for their national championship tournament.

“I believe that [COVID-19] is both a blessing and a curse for our teams,” eSports co-president senior Joseph Park said. “We can continue to hone our skills during the breaks we have, [but] it prevents us from going to tournaments and competitions we [were] already in.”

Lancer eSports teams play in three leagues: the High School Esports League [HSEL], PlayVS and North America Scholastic Esports Federation [NASEF].

PlayVS and HSEL will allow students to play from home, eSports adviser Myra Deister said. However, NASEF has suspended league play until further notice, and the League of Legends team, which holds the NASEF championship title from last year, has resorted to practicing from home.

With the help of Discord, a platform designed for video game communication, players are able to communicate with one another during the games through the likes of audio communication as well as group chats. The teams also have a remote volunteer coach that works with them, also through Discord.

“I am disappointed for all of the players, [as] they have put a great deal of time into practice and playing,” Deister said. “NASEF schedules the playoffs locally, [but] I am not sure if NASEF will be able to hold the playoffs due to the coronavirus, which is one of the events the team was looking forward to.”

Meanwhile, the eSports CIF season will carry on, as only a few people will be in the room during the games, and players bring in their own equipment, minimizing the chances of bacterial transfers from person to person.

For the remaining competitions that have yet to be suspended, the games will be available for students to watch from the safety of their own homes through the Sunny Hills eSports twitch channel or each player’s individual twitch streams, Park said.

Players also have a reduced risk of the virus affecting their performance compared to other athletes, since the games occur indoors with no physical contact with opponents.

“Personally, I don’t think [the pandemic] affects eSports all too much considering that most of the time you would be playing online while not near anyone,” Lancer eSports player junior Erik Kim said. “My performance wouldn’t be affected in any way because if I’m being honest here, I don’t go outside that much.”

However, if the pandemic were to become more severe, the eSports team may possibly face more suspensions for future live events.

“[The virus] can be an issue for live events where we play our finals [and] semi-finals, which would suck because playing on a stage is a great feeling that doesn’t come by too often,” Kim said.

Currently, the League of Legends Sunny Hills Gold team is ranked fifth, and the Sunny Hills Black Team is ranked ninth in NASEF. On PlayVS, the team is ranked second, and League play is set to continue until April 28. For the winter season, the eSports team had no teams playing with HSEL.

COVID-19 has not only limited the number of tournaments the eSports team is able to compete in, but it also had its effects on future seasons and tournaments.

“The Spring League is next, but registering the students for Spring League will be challenging if they are not attending school,” Deister said.