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BionicLettuce (Jonathon Cotey from Middleton High) is first ESports District Champ!

District Holds First ESports Championship

June 09, 2020 - Student Success

It took nearly 5 hours, but in the end, BionicLettuce defeated Nerva 3-2 to win the first ESports District Title! 

BionicLettuce (Jonathon Cotey from Middleton High) and Nerva (Nicholas Eisman from Plant High) were the final players left in the 16-player Super Smash Bros. tournament—viewed live on a Twitch feed along with play-by-play commentary. 

“It’s pretty cool to know that I’m the first ever champion,” said BionicLettuce. “I lost the previous 9 matches against Nerva so this meant a lot to beat him when it mattered the most.” 

Down 2-0 in a best of 5 championship series, BionicLettuce won the final 3 rounds to pull off the upset. 

"Nerva kept using the same moves, so it became easy for me to predict what he would do as the game went on,” said BionicLettuce. “I also switched to a different [game] character which made it harder for him to predict how I would play.” 

Fun Fact #1: The video games market is expected to be worth more than 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. (BestTheNews) 

With courses like Game Design Foundations and 3D Animation becoming more popular in our schools, competitive gaming – just like traditional sports teams – creates a sense of belonging for many students. 

“My goal is to develop a community where students feel at home,” said Michael Gabany, Bloomingdale High's ESports teacher. “From there, students will be willing to help each other out in other aspects of life; not just in gaming.” 

In 2019-2020, Bloomingdale High was the only school in the state to offer an ESports class—allowing students to learn the basic concepts behind video game design such as animation, logic and the design process. 

“I open my doors before school starts and will have anywhere from 30-40 students come by each morning,” said Gabany. “This has really become their locker room; their safe space.” 

Fun Fact #2: There are more than 2.5 billion video gamers from all over the world. (The European Mobile Game Market) 

The demand for ESports has been growing throughout our district. ESports Club members from nearly 20 schools competed throughout the school year in multiple Super Smash Bros. tournaments. The students would gather at a neutral school site and compete while other students would provide the play-by-play commentary. 

Once school activities and campuses closed due to Covid-19, the HCPS ESports District Finals tournament moved to a virtual contest between the previous top 16 scorers. 

“This has been a work in progress for five years,” said Robert Dodson, ESports Club Sponsor at Middleton High. “If it was this popular during quarantine, I can’t wait to see how big this can become in the future.” 

Those involved see a benefit well beyond playing video games. 

“The tournaments help make our students well-rounded,” said Gabany. “They learn how to compete in a professional manner while students who provide the in-game commentary develop social skills.” 

“One day, I hope to see the ESports members recognized at the state level for their achievements,” said Dodson. “It will happen once the colleges start offering ESports scholarships.” 

Fun Fact #3: Even going back so far as 2016, the revenues for video games surpassed those of the music and film industries combined. * 

View the HCPS ESports District Finals at