CUSD high school students got to play the popular multiplayer shooter game Overwatch on professional gaming computers against each other, similar to the one pictured above. Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash.
By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
The California State University, Dominguez Hills Esports Association collaborated with the Compton Unified School District to host the first ever Compton USD Showdown, a gaming tournament where high school students competed against each other and showcased their skills on the first-person multiplayer shooter Overwatch.
As CSUDH strengthens its video game profile by offering a certification program beginning next semester, students from the Esports Association served as coaches and mentors to 24 Compton USD high school students from Centennial High School, Compton High School, Dominguez High School and Compton Early College High School.
The four-week process included a lesson plan around the game Overwatch and topics on building a positive online environment, digital media development and how to create content.
The students from the different high schools were mixed in different teams and each team came up with a name: Team Primal Rage, team Legion, team Shadow Strikers and team Shoutout Betty White.
The match content was produced and developed by Compton USD students, designed to look and feel like a professional match that is the hallmark of the billion dollar eSports industry today.
The entire tournament was streamed on Twitch, complete with live commentary regarding updates on the matches, breakdowns of the team strategies during the match and analysis of each match.
The first day of competition began on July 13, continued on July 15 and the tournament finals was played on July 17. Team Legion and team Shoutout Betty White met in the finals in a best-of-five series that went down to the wire, with team Legion narrowly edging team Shoutout Betty White 3-2.
CSUDH Esports general manager and academic adviser Ruben Caputo said organizing and co-sponsoring the event with Compton USD helped the Esports Association get more community engagement locally and helped Compton establish an Esports association and presence.
Many of the high schoolers had never seen or played on a gaming computer and Caputo said they all expressed great interest in wanting to get involved in esports and gaming. He viewed the event as an all-around success and a great opportunity for both the Toros students and high school students.
“The Toros acted as mentors to the high school students and helped coach and mentally prepare them for the tournament,” Caputo said. “They were able to mentor, support and coach, and provide insight on the gameplay itself. They were able to explain their strategies and everything they learned. Our students have transferable skills between gaming and schoolwork and they were able to show those skills to the high school students.”
While high schoolers competing against each other on the wildly popular Overwatch was the main attraction, Caputo said that his athlete mentors made sure to focus on elements other than gameplay. He said they stressed to the four teams that working together as a cohesive unit, mental preparation before competing and self-analysis of how they performed afterward were just as important as the in-game strategy.
The factor of working together as a cohesive unit was compared to working on a group project in school. Mental preparation before competing was compared to studying for a big exam or final in a subject, and self-analysis of the performance afterward was compared to receiving a test score and seeing what areas can be improved for the next exam.
The gaming tournament also allowed the Compton USD high school students to connect with college students on a level besides gaming. Caputo felt that having high school students connect with a college student through gaming was important because students generally feel more connected with peers who are close to them in age.
The tournament finals concluded the four-week mentorship between the Toro students and Compton USD high school students but Caputo and the Esports association look forward to possibly working with Compton USD for future events.
“It was bittersweet to say goodbye to [the Compton USD students],” Caputo said. “But it didn’t feel like a goodbye. It felt more like a ‘see you later.’”