Mexico Heart Career Center and North Callaway High School students excelling in esports

Story by Matt Pilger, editor

It was an impressive performance from several students in the district in the Missouri Scholastic Electronic Sports Association playoffs this season.

The record Varsity Division out of the Hart Career Center, Mexico, started with 291 players, at the start of the season, and 194 players started the playoffs.

Amy Harris of the Computer Science Department at the Hart Career Center is responsible for the esports program and is the organizer of the Smash Tournament for MOSEF. All competitions were conducted online.

Team Smash’s Hart Career Center Bulldog esports team, Side B, had eight players at the start of the Smash Solo season. Five of them reached the playoffs including Captain William Bingham, Logan Finch, Logan Blackburn, Landon Wilson and Octavian Jeffries. The three are in the top five in the region at the end of the regular season: Bingham (1), Blackburn (2), and Finch (5). During the state competition, Bingham started in the Elite Eight on Night Two where he held one loss (to the eventual champion), and reached the fourth-place finish before being eliminated in the losing semi-final.

In case you were wondering, Super Smash Bros. is a hugely popular fighting game that has evolved into an esports game, due to its likable characters, accessible nature, and multiplayer feature that allows up to eight players to compete in a single match.

North Callaway High School students were competing in Varsity Small School. Two North Callaway players, Josh Bays and Trevor Lairmore, were competing for the first time this season.

The results were impressive as Bayse and Lairmore finished in the Elite Eight in the Missouri Scholastic Electronic Sports Association qualifiers in the Standard Division. Bayse was technically the first singles champion in the Small School Division game.

Esports have seen a significant rise in popularity over the past few years. The industry is growing exponentially with amateur, high school, college, and professional teams now competing all over the world. The University of Missouri launched an esports program in August 2019. Last year, US colleges awarded more than $16 million in esports scholarships, helping fuel the explosive growth of high school teams. Supporters say they operate just like other sports teams. Players respond to training and work together to develop effective “on the field” strategies.

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