Alabama’s newest high school sport is now online

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG)  — These aren’t the video games you grew up with, but they could make your gamer millions.

University of Alabama ESports Team member Erin Spaulding said, “League is one of the biggest games played competitively. The prize pool for that is absolutely insane. There’s a lot of money that goes into that game.” 

With commentators, packed arenas, and superstar E-athletes, the world of electronic sports is blowing up.

Now the competition comes to high schools across Alabama. Senior at Citronelle High School Jeremy Wilson said, “I have been playing pc games ever since ever since I got my first laptop.” 

For students like Jeremy Wilson, the new sport provides opportunities for the future. Wilson said, “I’m a gamer at heart. I play games every time I go home, so having a way into college through gaming, that’s perfect.”

Play-VS, the company who runs ESports for high schools across the nation, says there are 200 colleges and universities offering almost $10-million in ESports scholarships.

Spaulding said, “Myself, I always played sports in high school, but playing video games gives me the same sense of sports” 

ESports commentator and content creator Dustin Mouret said, “While it may not require the same athletic ability as some of these traditional sports, it does still require great reaction speed and dexterity, and accuracy, and muscle movement, and it’s very strategical.”

There are three games students can choose to play: League of Legends, Smite, and Rocket League. Mouret said, “A game like Rocket League is super easy for anyone to follow, so I think that’s like a natural kind of gateway into understanding esports more is a game like rocket league that again is very simple on the surface to understand and watch. I mean it’s just soccer with cars right.” 

Alabama is one of nine states with varsity high school teams. There are also seven states with clubs.

Mouret said, “If you’re not going to stop them from playing a sport, why would you stop them from playing ESports? I think it’s just as likely, if not more likely, they might be able to be successful in the industry.” 

Competing is not the only way to cash in on ESports. We spoke with a paid Twitch streamer. His name is Hunter, but online he goes by Turnip. He said, “You just set your settings and then you just go to Twitch and click start streaming.”

Twitch streaming gives fans more opportunities to watch their favorite players. ESports players stream playing popular games online and get paid through subscriptions and donations. Turnip said, “For the past like six months, six to eight months, I’ve probably been putting in at least four and a half to five hours a day. Sometimes I go up to nine, ten hours a day.”

Mouret said, “Just like watching a sport, right? You watch because you’re like, man I wish I could do that. I mean, that’s what a lot of people think when they watch them play.”

While streaming can bring in big money, it’s much harder to break into than competing. Wilson said, “We’ve been practicing against a really hard A.I. trying to simulate players, and we’ve been practicing Baker [High School] somewhat too.” 

Wilson says he and his teammates are training hard for the upcoming season. He said, “So far, we’ve been doing pretty good against them. Of course, they’ve had a little bit more experience, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.” 

Citronelle and Baker High Schools, along with several others in Mobile and Baldwin county officially kick off the ESports season with competitions beginning the week of February 25.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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