Dev Patel playing Rocket League, with Noah Allen and Simon Sikes in the background. Photo by Kate Towery.
Jackson McKillip participates on one of Athens Academy’s two Rocket League e-sports teams. Here, he talks about Rocket League and how well the teams have performed this season.
Admittedly, it can still sound ridiculous to try and explain what we actually are getting to do. Yes, we play a video game competitively against other schools in Georgia. This is the first year that the GHSA has offered anything like this, and for the Spring Season we formed two Rocket League teams. The game is a 3v3 soccer match where each player controls individualized cars that they try to hit the ball into the goal with. The season format is one preseason match, 8 regular season matches, and a 32-team playoff for the state championship. Each match consists of a best-of-five series. One of our teams consists of seniors William, Simon, and Tom, and the other team is made up of juniors, including myself, Noah, Dev, and AJ. Initially, we figured our teams would be somewhere in the “average” range. Turns out we play Rocket League way more than other schools. Both teams started 6-0 in match play, winning by a comfortable margin each time. At one point there were 19 undefeated Rocket League teams in the country, and Athens Academy had two of them. The seniors finished 7-1 and currently hold the #2 seed heading into the state tournament, and the juniors finished 6-2 with the #10 seed. In the round of 32, the seniors play #31 Gilmer High School and our team plays #23 Athens Christian. The most-asked question I get is, “Is it possible for the two teams to play each other?” and that is a yes. If both teams win their first two playoff games, we would play each other in the state’s Elite Eight. Since February when the season started, E-Sports have gained a lot of traction around the country and specifically in Georgia. Next year, GHSA is offering E-Sports as a varsity sport, and colleges around the country are starting to offer scholarships for E-Sports.