High schools face off at NMAA Esports Championship

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High schools across our state duked it out – from the gaming chairs. New friendships and new rivalries formed at the New Mexico Activities Association’s Esports finals.

“Years ago, you would ask somebody ‘Are you a gamer?’ Now you ask ‘What games do you play?” said Bernardo Gallegos, UNM’s Esports staff advisor.

“We’ve gone to a few of these and they’re a blast,” said Sebastian Salgado, a Rocket League player for the Del Norte Knights. “When you play with people online, you don’t really know who they are. So it’s really cool to put a face to the car.”

“It’s a lot like traditional sports. It’s that critical thinking and problem solving, so there’s a lot of movement. Rocket League is a fast-paced game, you can’t take your eyes away for a moment,” said Gallegos.

“It’s like muscle memory. We’ve been playing so long, we have chemistry, we know exactly what each other is going to do,” said Aiden Lindeman. He plays alongside Salgado on the Del Norte Knights.

The crowd cheered in support, as the virtual cars crashed into each other.

“It’s a goal! Flashpoint! Really putting the nail in the coffin for Del Norte,” the commentators shouted, adding to the excitement.

La Cueva High’s team won the 5-A title. Portales High captured 4-A. West Las Vegas High secured the 3-A division.

Salgado and Lindeman took second place in 4-A, and won thousand-dollar scholarships from APS.