(Orange County, CA – April 30, 2018) – The dark horse Fountain Valley High School took the gold in the championship match of the inaugural season of the Orange County High School Esports League™. Fountain Valley’s aggressive style enabled the team to earn more gold and secure more control of the map in the popular League of Legends esports game.
Thirty-eight teams from 25 local schools participated in the League. Teams from Cypress, La Quinta, Sunny Hills, and Fountain Valley High Schools League made it to the Final Four. Fountain Valley took out the two highest seeded teams, La Quinta High School and Cypress High School, to secure first place.
The Championship matches were filled with tension. Students crowded the stands and their spirited chants filled the Arena as they cheered for classmates playing a popular video game on a huge screen. Beyond the drama of the matches, a similar current of excitement ran through the adults in the room as they witnessed the success of their idea to build a system to leverage students’ love of gaming and immerse them in learning high-demand 21st century skills.
The esports movement that is sweeping the country has an added dimension in Orange County: education intertwined with gameplay. The League is not just tapping into the student base to build a sizable player community, nor does it give a quick nod to a handful of skills that are used by every player. With the involvement of several partners, including the Orange County Department of Education and UC Irvine, the experience is much deeper:
- Near-peer coaches guide students to develop social-emotional skills as well as improve their gameplay.
- Professionals lead career-focused workshops incorporating engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship principles.
- Students are mentored to build crucial 21st century skills in communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
“The championship finals were unbelievable! They exceeded my wildest imagination,” said Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation and Commissioner of the League. “Seeing young minds so engaged and having so much fun, then speaking with teachers and principals about how the League is increasing the students’ engagement and enthusiasm for school – I was in awe. I am certain that we will look back at this inaugural season and realize that we started a new movement in learning.”
“It’s a bold move to leverage esports for education. We started with focused activities outside the school day, and with the enthusiastic response of students and teachers, we’re charging ahead,” said Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine and Education Implementation Lead of the high school league. “We’ve created an English Language Arts curriculum that teaches timeless reading and writing skills with next-generation esports at its core. The curriculum weaves STEM principles and elements of Career Technical Education throughout. The world is changing rapidly, and we shouldn’t rely on archaic methods to connect with students. With an esports foundation, we will get them excited about their own learning and thinking creatively about their futures.”
Congratulations to all students who participated in the Spring 2018 season. Look online for the list of participating schools and profiles of the Final Four teams. Students voted for players to receive recognition for their crucial roles on the teams through awards for Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Unsung Hero. Students also selected coaches and teacher advisors for commendation for their role in mentorship and youth development. Those awards are detailed on the Finals page.
In the fall of 2018, the League will expand throughout the state of California and beyond. Schools that are interested in participating in the next season, as well as those interested in piloting the curriculum, should email email@example.com.
About Orange County High School Esports League
The Orange County High School Esports League connects the rapidly growing form of Esports competition and entertainment with resilient, adaptive, and effective STEM-focused learning. Under the Samueli Foundation’s leadership, the High School League is led by partners from the Orange County Department of Education, OC STEM Initiative, Connected Camps, Connected Learning Lab, UCI Esports, UCI Henry Samueli School of Engineering, UCI Bren School of Information & Computer Science and Alvarez & Marsal.
Learn more at www.esportsfed.org. Members of the press can find videos, infographics, and leadership profiles in the online press room. Join online conversations on Twitter @NASEFgg for esports updates and @NASEFedu for our education news, on Facebook and Instagram, and see matches streamed live on our Twitch channel.
 STEM = science, technology, engineering, and mathematics