Pali’s Esports Club Starts Off Strong


Dohyun(Andy) Ju, Editor-in-Chief of Special Assignments

Pali’s Esports Club has been gaining popularity in the past few months. Currently, the club has been competing in the PlayVS Esports League and will enter the High School Esports League, or HSEL, next semester. Gamers compete in League of Legends tournaments every Tuesday after school, and the members also expect to compete in Fortnite, Overwatch, Minecraft: Survival Games, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, Rainbow 6 Siege, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Gunfight Mode, Madden 20, Fifa 20 and NBA 2K20 matches next semester.

The club is run by brothers Benjamin (a freshman) and Joseph Darvish (a junior), and it is supervised by Biology teacher John Vieira, who is passionate about being a “positive adult mentor in [the gamers’] lives.” Vieira said he believes that gaming provides students an outlet to make long-lasting friendships and a chance to work with others effectively.

Vieira is an enthusiastic supporter of the rapid rise of esports, saying that it requires “a tremendous amount of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity from players to achieve and sustain success.” He further explained that these “soft skills” that are learned and developed from gaming are “many of the same skills that employers are looking for in recent [college] graduates.” Vieira also said that gaming can be used as a gateway to college, pointing out that “the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the main governing body for varsity collegiate esports, has awarded millions of dollars in esports scholarships and aid over the last five years.”

Viera said he believes that “[esports] reaches beyond traditional sports to create an all-inclusive environment that breaks barriers.”

The Darvishes agree with Vieira, saying that they strongly believe that esports is a legitimate sport, despite its differences from traditional sports. With these ideas in mind, the club leaders try to make the club an inclusive and positive environment, supplementing the collaborative and competitive environment of a traditional sports team.

Vieira’s personal interest and passion for gaming is the main reason for his support of the club. He says that he has “always loved technology and the culture associated with it.” He says that “not all screen time is the same,” and adds that “staring at your Instagram and TikTok feeds all day does not have the same impact on the human brain as using technology to engage in critical thinking activities (competitive video games in this case).”

According to Vieira, “the students at PCHS signed up in droves when we announced we were starting a club.” Gamers swarmed the table at Club Day and filled room J123 at the first club meeting. After setting up a Discord server to get to know everyone’s preferred games, Vieira and the Darvishes entered League of Legends teams into the PlayVS Esports League via online registration. Vieira admits that he and the Darvishes are still “learning how to fly the plane while it’s in flight,” as this is the first official esports club at Pali.

Like other Pali athletes, the Pali gamers who compete in the PlayVS Esports League need to practice and warm up before games. Benjamin Darvish explains that some of the gamers “use Osu!, an aim trainer,” but they do not have any special activities for warm-ups, since the teams consist of friends who play for fun outside of the scheduled matches.

All of this practice and training is preparing the gamers to compete in the HSEL tournament next semester. Looking into the future of esports, Vieira asserts that “esports is here and it isn’t going anywhere.” The club meets every Monday in room J123.