South Hampton Roads gamers no longer need to wait until school ends to fire up their favorite video game.
The Virginia High School League approved a one-year pilot program for esports at its May meeting, potentially giving varsity status to an activity that's already being offered as a club extracurricular at some state schools.
"Since approved by the Executive Committee, there has been a lot of positive feedback from schools and sponsors who are very excited about esports,” said VHSL executive director John W. “Billy” Haun. “The Virginia High School League is always looking to increase opportunities for students beyond the traditional activities.”
Coordinating with PlayVS, the esports platform provider that partners with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the year-long experiment will provide "data to the executive committee for potential sanctioning of esports as an official activity for the League," the VHSL said in a statement.
Three games — League of Legends, SMITE, and Rocket League — will be offered to play during two seasons of the school year (October to January and the second season is to be determined in late winter/spring).
Students must maintain eligibility like any other VHSL-sanctioned activity and cost is $64 per student per game title per season.
No travel is required as all practices and competitions are held after school online in a supervised environment.
League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena, is one of the most popular games in the international competitive scene with its own professional circuit — the League of Legends Championship Series — that garnered nearly 100 million unique viewers in the 2018 finals, according to the game's developer Riot Games.
SMITE is a third-person MOBA that also has a World Championship put on by its developer Hi-Rez Studios, while Rocket League is a vehicular soccer game played with Hot Wheels-style cars that's gained a massive following with its own Rocket League Championship Series.
Ray Nimmo, 757-446-2364, email@example.com
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