Walking into the Obama Male Leadership Academy gymnasium was like entering an arcade with lasers, beams, and sound effects booming from portable gaming station monitors paired with Nintendo switches. Throughout the gym, the monitors were flashing Super Smash BROS. player characters with encouraging words for Dallas ISD high school gamers, such as: “It is not the end of the world if you get launched, so don’t give up.”
Obama MLA was one of two Dallas ISD facilities transformed into esports arenas that housed the Spring Smash High School Esports Tournament. Sponsored by Student Activities, the esports tournament was simultaneously held at Obama and Career Institute South. In addition to Super Smash Bros., teams of gamers played Overwatch on the second floor in the Obama esports lab and lounge. Across town at Career Institute South, gamers grabbed their controllers to play Rocket League, a soccer video game with rocket-powered cars.
Students from 19 high schools participated in the tournament. The high school esports tournament was not only a great opportunity for young gamers to compete in person, but also provided a sense of how Dallas ISD is supporting students’ dreams and goals regarding the gaming industry, said Jose Delgado, Bryan Adams esports coach.
“At the tournament, one of my top moments was watching my students have the chance to talk with Dylan Wray, the esports coordinator for the University of North Texas,” he said. “My students got a chance to learn what they would need to do to aim for esports scholarships so that they could continue to play at the collegiate level.”
The representative from the university was not the only visitor at the tournament that day. The director of player management for Team Envy, Dallas Fuel, and Dallas Empire stopped by both tournament locations and made note of the young gamers’ excitement for esports.
“Dallas ISD’s Spring Smash High School Esports Tournament was nothing short of amazing across both its locations,” Ian Houston said. “The passion for competition among the participants was tangible, and the setup was standard with what we see in professional play. I’m incredibly optimistic that this is the future of esports.”
Tyne Thompson, South Oak Cliff High esports coach, said esports has provided her young gamers the space to express themselves and build new friendships.
“I have seen my students become more confident,” she said. “When we practice, I find myself smiling and full of joy from listening to the passionate roar of excitement or the groans of defeat. Dallas ISD’s esports program has opened my students up to a world of opportunities and possibilities.”
The Spring Smash Tournament for secondary students was not the first in-person event for esports students held this semester.
In preparation for expanding the districtwide secondary gaming program to elementary schools, the Student Activities Department hosted an esports tournament for fourth and fifth graders in early March. At the elementary tournament featuring the Smash Bros. game, the students arrived ready to compete with clever gamer tags on their sleeves like ZestyDragon and Lets-Taco-Bout-It.
At Obama MLA, professional esports casters announced the games as parents, coaches, and students followed the action watching monitors mounted through the esports lab and lounge. The tournament used a single-elimination format with the winning gamers proceeding to the next round until the final two students from Weiss Elementary went head-to-head for the championship match.
A complete list of the winning individuals and teams is below for both elementary and secondary esports tournaments.
|Esports Elementary Tournament | March 5, 2022|
|Weiss ES||SMASH BROS.||First Place|
|Weiss ES||SMASH BROS.||Second Place|
|Spring Smash High School Esports Tournament | April 23, 2022|
|Business & Management||SMASH BROS.||First Place|
|New Tech High||SMASH BROS.||Second Place|
|New Tech High||SMASH BROS.||Third Place|
|Hillcrest High||Overwatch||First Place|
|Conrad High||Overwatch||Second Place|
|New Tech High||Overwatch||Third Place|
|Obama MLA||Overwatch||Fourth Place|
|Bryan Adams High||Rocket League||First Place|
|Molina High||Rocket League||Second Place|
|Bryan Adams High||Rocket League||Third Place|
Upcoming Esports Events
Spring Smash Esports Tournament for Middle School is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Obama esports lab and lounge. The game titles will include SMASH BROS., Rocket League, and Fortnite.
Esports summer camp for young gamers in grades 4-5 is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 6-9 at Obama MLA Esports Lab & Lounge. Summer campers will learn the importance of health and fitness elements, techniques for skills development, and the fundamentals of team play.