BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Students from over 20 schools participated in what they are calling the largest esports tournament ever in Kern County to show off their gaming skills playing the game Overwatch 2.
“I can play with my friends here like it’s we built up to this like this is what we built up to you know practicing, making, and putting our dedication to our team, and this is where we can show we did everything we could,” said West High Esports Competitor Leonardo Carreon.
Leonardo Carreon is one of five players for the varsity West High esports team that competed at the esports tournament. He has always been into playing video games as a kid but never considered it that serious.
“Freshman year is the year where I found that esports were going into school. I wasn't really a big competitive gamer so I was just like you know what I will give it a try you know I will see what this is about,” said Carreon.
That is exactly what Carreon did, he found the sport that he loves, and that passion would help lead his team to go undefeated his junior year. Now he sees the sport continuing to grow.
“Kids love video games, they are going to keep playing video games, but what we are giving them is the the structured competitive outlet which is esports, so we are taking them from sitting alone in the bedroom playing without purpose and we are bringing them to a community and a team environment that’s competitive and giving them purpose and structure,” said West High Esports Coach Spencer Lawhon.
Just like other sports, esports have teams that range from freshman all the way to varsity and some teams even have jerseys. The teams in the tournament consisted of five players for each team, and had to occupy several buildings to host all teams.
“These kids are no different representing their school than a basketball player, or a football player or a volleyball player, soccer player like we are here representing our school wearing a jersey as a true team,” said Lawhon.
Carreon says he hopes to continue gaming after high school.
"I still want to be a part of my team after I graduate. I still want to coach the later generations,” said Carreon.
Lawhon says esports are a fantastic opportunity for kids to turn what was once considered a time wasting activity and use it to compete, and even possibly earn scholarships for it.