Caravan E-Sports looks to build on successful first season

The E-Sports Team is ready to build on the success of its first season. (Freddie Gist)

Absolute precision. Mental endurance. Nerves of steel. All these attributes are necessary to compete at the highest level of the PlayVS E-Sports league. Over 500 teams spanning across the U.S. states within the central time zone compete in the semi-annual PlayVS league. Among these teams stands the Mt. Carmel Caravan.

Caravan E-Sports began last year and has already seen a degree of success. Of the roughly 500 teams in the league, Mount Carmel finished in the top thirty-two of all teams in both its inaugural fall season and the spring season. 

 “While there is no difference between the fall and spring seasons officially,” says Caravan E-Sports coach Mr. Dominic Scheuring, “pretty much everyone sees the fall season as a warmup for the spring season.” Mt. Carmel followed the lead of current senior Drake Alderson and graduate Holden Shimala to two round of thirty-two finishes. 

According to Alderson, “We reloaded really well this year, we lost two of our starters but we got a really good freshman this year.” 

Only the top 64 teams in the league make the end-of-season tournament, and in both of its first year seasons, Mt. Carmel qualified for the central regional championships, and both times they won their opening round match. However, both times the Caravan fell in the second round. Coach Schuering and the Caravan E-Sports team will look to improve this year and go deeper in the tournament.

The Caravan E-Sports team competes in Rocket League, a game that may seem familiar to sports fans. At its core, Rocket League is soccer, the most popular sport in the world. However, there is a twist. Instead of running around a field as an athlete, the players control a car with the options to boost and jump. Boost is a limited resource and can be replenished by driving over refill spots, so it must be used deliberately. While jumping, the player can also initiate a double jump, allowing more height or distance but sacrificing some maneuverability. 

Because of the fact the players control fast cars that can jump, there would be a risk that the players’ vehicles would go out of bounds too easily. Furthermore, the ball would also go out of bounds easily, and there is no way to grab the ball for a traditional Soccer throw-in. Thus, instead of the field being a regular soccer pitch, it is a 360-degree enclosure in roughly the shape of a cube. 

The players can use their boosting and jumping abilities to strategically drive up the walls to gain an edge on their opponents. Skilled players can even drive across the ceiling of the enclosure. As a result of the players controlling cars, the ball is not able to be controlled in a regular manner for Soccer. Instead, the ball bounces off the cars when the cars collide with it. This makes it very difficult to accurately make the ball go the direction you want it to. 

Because of the fast-paced nature and the players’ precision needing to be near perfect, quick reflexes and mental fortitude are essential to victory. And as Coach Scheuring said, “One mistake against a good team could be the game.” Matches usually last around five minutes plus a sudden death overtime if necessary. 

The Caravan competes in 3-on-3 matches, with generally 3 starters and 2-3 subs per team. Mount Carmel Currently has three teams, A, B, and C. The A-team consists of two seniors and a freshman. “Something really great about E-Sports is that there’s no separation by class,” said Coach Scheuring. “It’s really cool that I’ve got a freshman who knows and hangs out with seniors.” 

The Caravan E-Sports players are constantly practicing, too. “E-Sports is different than say, football or wrestling where you need to physically meet with your teammates to practice,” says Scheuring. “The E-Sports guys just play whenever they want, and they play with each other a lot. I’ll look at the Discord and see that the guys are practicing together.” Since the team is still relatively new and unsung and spends so much time playing together, the team is a very tight-knit group. 

The Caravan E-Sports season begins soon, with their first match on Thursday, September 24, and they will have weekly games every Thursday going forward.