Local esports teams compete in inaugural state championship | KOB 4
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Local esports teams compete in inaugural state championship

Brandon Ortega
April 28, 2019 09:44 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This year the New Mexico Activities Association instituted esports as a high school activity. The inaugural state championship was this weekend.

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At Rio Rancho High School, the intensity was high. The Rams are one of the few esports teams that existed before it became an official school activity. 

"We just ran it as kind of a club after school and we played in a couple of national tournaments, just kind of had some fun," said Michael Mascone, the Rio Rancho esports coach. "Now we are playing for state."

Rio Rancho's hard work paid off – they were one of the first esports state champions, capturing two state titles.

Senior Oscar Piñon was one of those champions. 

"Means a lot, to be honest," Piñon said. "This was the only opportunity I would have to get first place, even reach the finals."

Like most of the schools in New Mexico, Sandia Prep is brand new to esports. The Sun Devils made it to the state championship for League of Legends. 

"Honestly it was an honor," said Liam Arsenault, Sandia Prep's esports coach. His goal was to get kids who don't fit into traditional sports like football or basketball and get them into esports. 

"I feel like we came out of like nowhere and got to this place by working really hard and I give credit to all of my teammates," said Sandia Prep junior Sarah Maurice, who medaled at the event.

"It'll help you work as a team, make more friends and it just makes a move for gamers to get sports like EA sports and you get scholarships for college for doing it," said another medalist, freshman Jake Eckenroth. 

Jake's brother, Gabe, did just that – earning esports scholarships at schools in Missouri and Nebraska. 

"It really gives kids more options to be able to get experience being a part of something bigger," Gabe said. "Esports is huge and it's just getting bigger."

Rio Rancho picked up two state titles. Sandia Prep and Cleveland finished second in their events.

Los Alamos won state in Smite. Kirtland Central was runner-up. 

Credits

Brandon Ortega

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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