Shenandoah U. to host inaugural VHSL esports championship
The first esports championship for the Virginia High School League is being held Saturday, Jan. 18, at Shenandoah University.
The VHSL PlayVS Esports Championship hosted by Shenandoah University runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center on the Winchester campus. More than 40 students are set to compete in Rocket League and League of Legends.
“Hosting the first high school esports championship in Virginia at Shenandoah University is a tremendous opportunity for both the school and the city of Winchester as we continue to grow esports in the area,” said Director of Esports Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D. “Students are getting a wonderful opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a live audience while experiencing an esports competition in person. We are excited to be hosting this great event and seeing some of the best high school esports students in the state compete.”
This fall, the Virginia High School League offered a one-year esports pilot program to its more than 300 high school members across the commonwealth. Thirty-seven of these schools opted to participate in the program.
Thirty-two high school teams are competing in online esports playoffs in early January. Four teams will advance to the championship to face off in League of Legends, and eight teams will advance in Rocket League.
“We have received a great deal of positive feedback from schools regarding the esports pilot,” said Darrell Wilson, assistant director for activities at VHSL. “Having Shenandoah University step up to support the VHSL and the esports community by hosting a culminating event like this will further help us get a glimpse into what this program could potentially become and whether the league decides to continue offering esports as a sanctioned academic activity for member schools.”
Semifinal play for League of Legends starts at 10 a.m., and the finals begin at 2 p.m.
Rocket League quarterfinals start at noon, followed by semifinals at 1 p.m. Finals for Rocket League are at 4 p.m.
Attendees can watch the matches on four 70-inch monitors and a large video screen.
The event is free and open to the public. Concessions and side-games will be available.
This fall, Shenandoah University launched degrees in esports management and esports media and communications. Sixteen students are enrolled in the new majors, with several students minoring in esports management and esports performance studies. The university also has a new 1,571-square-foot esports arena in the unused armory on Shenandoah’s main campus.