Dom Sacco reports on the final of the UK’s first inter-schools esports competition, and talks to the winners from St John Fisher in Dewsbury.
At the top level in esports, it goes without saying competition is fierce and margins can be extremely fine.
Actually, the same can be said for the grassroots level too. And sometimes all it takes is a little perspective, which can be the difference between victory and second place.
For the St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy school in Dewsbury, one little piece of advice spurred on their young Rocket League team – Veracity – to victory.
“We went into the last game with almost no fear – we played as we usually do. And we ended up as the winners.”
They had made it all the way to the grand final of the Digital Schoolhouse inter-school esports competition, held at London’s Gfinity Arena, as one of four teams hoping to win.
In their semi-final against Shire Oak Academy, they looked nervous and lost the first game, but pulled it together and fought back hard to win 2-1 and progress to the final.
Their grand final opponents, New College Swindon, tore apart Gildredge House School earlier in the other semi-final, and the older more experienced college players from Swindon looked the favourites heading into the final.
But St John Fisher had other plans, and swept New College Swindon aside with an emphatic 3-0 victory in the final.
What was the secret to their success?
Esports News UK asked the three 16-year-old champions, Joshua Love, Bailey Barber-Scargill and his brother Harrison Barber-Scargill, what motivated them.
Joshua Love said: “In the first match I think we let the pressure get to us a bit, we weren’t talking as much and we were making silly mistakes because of that.
“Once we calmed down we found it easier to talk to each other and we played well.
“We went into the last game with almost no fear – we played as we usually do. And we ended up as the winner. I think we played better today than we ever have before, because of the pressure.”
Bailey added: “I think the key to winning for us was that we communicated a lot. We said where each other was and that one of was the big factors for the win.”
So what was this magic piece of advice that helped them?
Bailey explained: “Yesterday I spoke to GarrettG, a professional Rocket League player, and I asked him how to not buckle under pressure.
GarrettG told me: ‘It’s just a video game. Have fun.’
“I took that on board and it actually really helped.”
This little reminder might seem insignificant, but by putting things into perspective it obviously helped the guys to relax and enjoy their matches, and ultimately, this mental attitude helped them to lift the trophy.
Something worth remembering for up-and-coming esports teams and players out there.
The winning team received a PlayStation 4, games and other goodies for their school.
Some 400 secondary and sixth form students took part in PS4 Rocket League matches across the country as part of the Digital Schoolhouse initiative.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.