A GLOBAL SCENE: HIGH SCHOOL ESPORTS IN ASIA AND EUROPE - PART 2
TNL Industry Guest Post 004: James Kozachuk has been building the collegiate eSports ecosystem since 2011, with key roles at the Collegiate Starleague and the High School Starleague. He is currently a researcher at the University of Central Florida, where he studies the effects of eSports programs on students. In addition, he works with Blizzard Entertainment's collegiate eSports division, Tespa and has provided his collegiate analytics and data services to multiple Fortune 500 companies.
TNL Take: While Part 1 of this series covered the competitive Collegiate circuits in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, today we'll talk about what's going on with eSports at High Schools across the world.
This year has ushered in a huge wave of eSports at the High School level, with organizations like the High School Starleague and the High School eSports League seeing students from 2,000 schools participating within North America.
However, even as someone who has been involved with the high school eSports scene for years- there's still things I learn every day.
The biggest one of was how widespread these types of programs are in Asia.
/01 GAME DEVELOPER LED PROGRAMS
While it was surprising to see such a heavy presence from the game developers (Garena, Tencent, Riot Games) in creating formal competitive Collegiate leagues for around League of Legends - it was even more surprising to see that almost all of those events also had a High School tournament being run alongside it.
Specifically the developers run High School competitions in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and China. Announcements from Garena have said that due to the success of these programs, they will be expanded and run independently - rather than a side event of the Collegiate tournaments.
The developer run events are unique because they’re professionally run and not student led like the High School eSports leagues we see in every other region. However, that’s not to say there isn’t an ecosystem in Asia and Europe for thriving student led competitions:
/02 STUDENT LED PROGRAMS
High school tournaments led by students for students is a staple across the world. While other regions see very little developer support, there’s always clamor for competition. Students in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan have created High School tournaments for games ranging from League of Legends, to Dota 2, to Crossfire, to Smash 4.
/03 SCHOOL LED PROGRAMS
One of the most impressive aspects of this ecosystem is happening in New Zealand. Recently an organization called Let’s Play Live has partnered with multiple High Schools to host a varsity competitive program for the whole nation.
Fifty schools have gotten together, many with formal coaches and after-school programs, to compete for scholarship funding. Let’s Play Live is currently entrenched in drama over their partnership with Riot’s Oceanic Pro League (essentially LCS in Oceania) team Tainted Minds.
Let’s hope the drama doesn’t follow itself into High School esports
In addition, Riot Games has launched a portal for students in Australia and New Zealand to create and find after-school clubs for their schools. While these forms of High School clubs exist in the West, there is currently no support from developers, compared to the immense support by Blizzard and Riot Games for Collegiate clubs.
Support by developers is integral to continue growing eSports globally at the earliest levels.
There’s also an incredible amount of eSports being taught in classes in Europe and Asia. While we don’t see this trend right now in the United States and Canada- likely because of the heavy regulatory environment- they’re everywhere across the globe.
Students can elect to supplement their gym classes with League of Legends, Dota 2, or Counter-Strike at schools in:
EUROPE: Arlanda Gymnasiet Sweden, Liceo Linguistico “Giovanni Falcone” Italy, Garne's High School Norway, and Vefsn Folkehogskole Toppen Norway. [Ed: Mentioned in the 1st look at the Collegiate eSports space almost a year ago in TNL 008, was 3 Swedish High Schools offering 3 hours of eSports classes]
ASIA: Philippine Science High School Western Visayas Philippines, SMA 1 PSKD Malaysia, Game Science High School Korea, and Tokyo School of Anime Japan.
The 3rd installment of the International Collegiate and High School eSports scene will feature a a further breakdown of the explosion in eSports in the non-professional sector.