Esports: an amazing month of regional qualifiers!
Over the last month, we have been running the 12 regional qualifiers as part of the Digital Schoolhouse Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle across 12 locations from the south of England through to Northern Ireland.
Congratulations to ALL the regional champions who took part: Pool Academy, New College Swindon, The Forest School, Big Creative Education, Prendergast Ladywell School, Southend High School for Boys, Coventry College, Access Creative College, Creative Computing Club Birmingham, Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Norton College, William Howard School and Holy Trinity College.
The qualifiers were hosted in various Belong arenas - which I’d never seen in person before - but I was massively impressed by the sleek, flashy aesthetic and branding that really unifies the Belong experience across the different locations and it was great to see so many of them.
I went to 8 of the events including Plymouth, which is the nearest city to where I was born and raised! My dad was even there independently as a Digital Schoolhouse teacher with his competing students, so it was a very easy and familiar start to the tournament for me.
I also went to Manchester, which I’d never been to before! The Manchester Belong arena is in the Trafford Centre which is a huge shopping centre with some both beautiful and crazy design features, which was fun to explore in the time I had spare. I definitely plan to return and have more of a look around the rest of the city at some point.
I got to meet and talk to so many people who came along with a shared enthusiasm for esports, games and education, including the amazing professional shoutcasters Nimmer Riaz and Bowie Alexander who got involved in our London Oxford Street qualifier and made the day even better for everyone with their charisma and encouragement.
There was a really great sense of community spirit and alliance at each of the events (as well as some healthy competition, of course)! The students seemed to be really in their element; it was great to see how they supported each other and socialised with the other schools. I was impressed with how they rose to the challenge, and their teachers valued this too. At the Plymouth qualifier Simon Elliot, lead teacher at Mounts Bay Academy commented:
“Digital Schoolhouse is one of the most popular after-school clubs and to see the motivation of the students to progress to the regionals has been great. Esports offers many valuable opportunities and a link into the growing number of careers in the UK games industry”
This was my first real experience of esports as a phenomenon but the impression I’ve gotten from it and its ability to bring people together has been overwhelmingly positive and I can’t wait to be a part of the semi-final and the grand final this coming month!