Heritage esports

Photo Courtesy of Maxwell Lim

(Left to right) Competitive Valorant team players Ian, Anthony (sub), John-Carlo, Justin, and Jaden ended their last competitive season in 8th place nationally, which fueled their competitive goal of making it into the top four this upcoming season. Another team member, Tyler, is not photographed. 

Along with physical sports that have started in the fall season, another activity has begun its recruiting and practice: esports competition.

The Heritage High School esports team, under the guidance of instructor Maxwell Lim and Coach Alvin Vuong, an alumnus of Deer Valley High and former competitive gamer, is getting ready for another competitive season after a successful run in Spring 2021. In the previous season, Heritage’s Valorant team competed in the High School Esports League and finished as one of the top eight competitive teams in the country. Now, as the school year has begun, Heritage esports is aiming for the top four.

“All the students here are the highest achieving students you could possibly think of,” said Lim. “Justin Lee is at Berkeley right now; Ian, Jaden, and John-Carlo are all 4.0 high or AP students. As a coach, it's always good to see they’re able to balance really competitive esports at a national level but also doing all the school stuff.” Despite the numerous hours of practice put in per week to improve their skills in Valorant, each student is attentive to their schedules.

Ian Gabriel Hautina, one of the members of the Valorant team, explained his approach to balancing his schedule. “I guess what I do is usually set my priorities,” he said. “I always try to finish my school work first so I don't end up procrastinating and end up doing it all in one night where I wouldn't have enough time to do any hobbies.” Other members of the team mirrored this mindset of strict prioritization, focus on school, and persistent effort in improving their gaming abilities.

Coach Vuong spoke about the opportunities that esports can provide as an industry.

“There’s a lot of opportunities beyond just playing in esports, and I think that’s really hidden right now,” he said about the technicalities and challenges that come with professional gaming. “A lot of professional orgs have analysts and psychologists and therapists. There is a big, big team behind just the players.” Along with a need to balance time and activities, there is emphasized importance of managing mental and physical health and strength.

As the team enters a new season, competitive desire to go further than before drives their practices and mentalities. Despite finishing 8th nationally, many of the players said they want to finish among the top four national teams.

“The only thing I wanted to do was get back into it and try and win again,” explained John-Carlo Mababangloob, another member of the five-member team, as they recalled their attitudes following their loss in the playoffs. Being so close to the final matches not only showcased their abilities to be a threat against other teams, but also gave the team a tangible goal.

“I just want to go back into it, and it fueled the fire and we just wanna win,” said team member Jaden Lee. Jaden had also mentioned that gaming on a competitive and professional level took a significant amount of mental fortitude.

Anyone looking to support the Heritage esports club and competitive team can either donate money at upcoming fundraisers to be announced at a later date by the team or watch the Valorant team play on twitch at: www.twitch.tv/hselesports.