Gamers rise up: Old Rochester esports league goes to regional playoffs

MATTAPOISETT — The members of the Old Rochester Regional Junior High School esports team aren’t familiar with game over screens.

According to esports coach and Old Rochester engineering teacher Brian Almeida, the school’s team finished their first regular season in first place for all three games they competed in.

Esports are competitive video games played either alone or with a team. Old Rochester Regional Junior High School started an esports team last November.

Almeida has said that while the students enjoy the competitive nature of esports, one of his main goals is teaching “soft skills” that can help his students as gamers and as people.

Since November, he has “seen students’ teamwork improve and they display better sportsmanship.”

“There’s much less blame for bad plays and instead the students work to help each other improve,” Almeida said.

The team that plays “Rocket League,” a video game where players control a car that jumps and drives around an arena with the goal of knocking a ball into a goal, finished the season undefeated with seven wins.

Old Rochester’s two teams that play Super Smash Brothers, a crossover fighting game where characters like Mario, Sonic and Pikachu battle each other, finished in the first and second place spots in the league.

Both Super Smash Brothers teams finished the season with five wins and two losses.

Henry Achilles, the school’s only competitive chess player finished the season with five wins and one loss.

Now, said Almeida, the teams will go onto the Massachusetts Middle School Esports League playoffs on March 2. If the teams perform well at the playoffs, they will be invited to compete in the championship tournament on March 11 at the Uptime Academy Esports Arena in Hanover.

“It’s definitely exciting to think about traveling to an esports arena but we joined this league specifically because it provided a local championship,” said Almeida. “I didn’t anticipate my teams would be contenders for the championship the first year but I’m happy they’ve done so well.”

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