The North Bergen High School eSports teams were recognized for their resounding victory in their first competition by Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners during the Feb. 12 meeting.
The students, boys and girls alike, were honored for being crowned as the first-ever Helix eSports Champions after beating out local rivals in December of 2019.
eSports are competitive video gaming tournaments. The competition took place over five different video games. Each game is considered a sport.
Helix eSports is the first eSports center in the area, at 3167 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen.
According to Helix, the eSports center re-imagines the concept of a traditional Internet cafe, incorporating expert-level staff, gaming infrastructure, and eSports events and tournaments.
The five eSports at the Helix championship on Dec. 5 included Overwatch, Fortnite, Super Smash Brothers, League of Legends, and Rocket League.
The North Bergen eSports teams took first place every time in both Overwatch and Rocket League, according to a press release. The teams either placed first or second in Fortnite, League of Legends, and Super Smash Brothers as well.
During the competition, the Bruins took on a loaded field of surrounding school districts. Competitors included eSports teams from Union City, West New York, Weehawken, Rutherford, and Becton Regional.
North Bergen High School was the first to sign up to form a team and compete in the league.
At the meeting, Sacco said that initially he wasn’t sure how the new eSports teams would fare, considering it was the first year of the program. However, he seemed impressed by the remarkable outcome, calling the newly formed team’s championship victory “extremely impressive.”
“I would like to congratulate the North Bergen High School eSports Team on the first ever Helix eSports Championship,” he said. “The team showed an incredible amount of resilience and sportsmanship all season and their efforts came to fruition with this victory. eSports is growing at an exponential rate worldwide and seeing our students rise as some of the best in the sport is a remarkable achievement.”
North Bergen Superintendent of Schools George Solter was also at the meeting to congratulate the team. Solter told the students he spoke with college coaches who are excited about some of the students potentially attending their colleges.
Solter announced the development of a new curriculum as a result of the success of the eSports program. According to the superintendent, game development classes will now be offered at the high school.
Richard Locricchio, principal of North Bergen High School, was at the ceremony as well to congratulate the team, calling the eSports teams “innovators” for their victory in the competition.
A path to collegiate eSports
At the tournament, recruiters from a number of colleges were on hand, looking to recruit students for their collegiate level eSports teams.
During the competition, which was cast live on Twitch, Rutgers University and St. Peter’s University were among a few colleges scouting players and networking with North Bergen coaches.
Recruiters from St. Peter’s University and The College of Saint Rose are actively recruiting two North Bergen students.
The two students have visited the campuses and met their respective teams, according to a press release. The North Bergen High School eSports teams are hopeful that the students are offered scholarships to play for collegiate-level eSports teams in the fall.
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