VAN BUREN — There were some technical issues with getting the game viewable online, but the match itself turned out fine.
Turned out well for Van Buren as the Van Buren Bruh squad defeated the Northside Alpha team 4-1 in the best-of-seven matches on Thursday afternoon in the sports Rocket League contest.
It was a scrimmage match for both teams and a first for both since Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson shut down the schools a week before Spring Break. It was announced on Thursday Spring Sports was done for the season as schools will be closed until the end of May to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 during a worldwide pandemic outbreak.
Schools with esports teams will be allowed to host scrimmages for the duration of the year provided the student-athletes will be able to compete from home in isolation.
Van Buren senior Jordan Deuley is finished with his high school academics and has already signed a four-year scholarship with Lyon College to join their esports team. It was the first time he got to play with Joseph Calderon and Jacob Hamilton at the same time since the school was closed.
“Since I’m a senior, I am a little upset about missing out on some of the things for my last year of high school, but I’ve been using the opportunity to get some practice,” said Deuley. “It’s great they’re giving us this opportunity. I hope others take advantage of it. I’m proud of what we accomplished at Van Buren and kind of help build the program … at least put a spotlight on it to show what can be accomplished with the esports program.”
While there have been restrictions allowing players to compete from consoles during the regular season, the AAA (Arkansas Activities Association) has eased that restriction for this duration. During the normal season, players would compete from desktop PCs provided by their respective school districts.
“The only restriction we have that we can’t claim any sort of state champion,” said coach Brian Johnson. The Van Buren Rocket League squad finished runner up in the Fall finals. “I would have liked another shot with these guys for a state title, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that chance.”
Johnson, who shares coaching duties with Brian Dodson, doesn’t have a schedule for the teams as it’s just a matter of lining up players both from Van Buren and teams to compete against. It took Arkansas a month to rescind the competition ban for esports while other states have allowed schools to compete even after their schools were shut down.
“As of right now, it’s up to the kids,” Johnson said. “Play Vs. (the esports outlet and platform organizer) is allowing us to set up the day and time and now it’s just a matter of another team picking up the spot. It’s still kind of new and we’re still in the process of rounding up the players to get them on board.”
Johnson has designs to get Smite and League of Legends matches going as well. The first ones out of the gate were his seniors in Rocket League: Deuley, Calderon and Hamilton.
“We had a Zoom meeting a while back just to check-in and to hear each other,” said Johnson. “Now, I’m trying to round up the other players. They were excited about at the time, but I guess some are just at home chilling or have gone on to play other games.”
Johnson is planning to have additional games set for 4 p.m. on Thursdays, but it’s a matter of if another team is going to play them.
In the meantime, Deuley is just going to keep on practicing to get ready for college.
“That’s the best thing about this,” Deuley said. “I can just tell my parents I’m getting ready for college. Normally, during the school year with homework, I would have about 60 hours of game time every two weeks. I’ve been getting about 110 hours every two weeks since this has started.”
The matches and replays can be found at www.twitch.tv/vbhsesports. The recent match is listed under “VB Pointers Smite Blitzkrieg vs. Vilonia High School.”