High School Sports

Lexington has an esports state champion, and it defeated a big rival to win it all

Boyle County takes home Kentucky’s first high school esports title

Boyle County High School students and faculty explain the experience of competing, and winning, Kentucky’s first sanctioned esports title after competing against St. Henry at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelbyville.
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Boyle County High School students and faculty explain the experience of competing, and winning, Kentucky’s first sanctioned esports title after competing against St. Henry at Martha Layne Collins High School in Shelbyville.

Lexington has its first esports champion.

Lafayette defeated Scott County, 2-1, for the PlayVS/KHSAA Esports Season One League of Legends State Championship on Tuesday night. The teams competed live in Lafayette’s library.

The Generals dropped the first game in a best-of-three series before taking the next two contests to secure their first esports title, and go down as the first to do so in Lexington.

“The first match we were playing a little bit too safe and we had to be a little more aggressive and especially be smarter, cause we were not playing that smart,” said Joe Yau, a senior. “We needed to be a lot more vocal and we just did it, and we won.”

Yau was part of the chess club in middle school but otherwise had never participated in organized competition before this year.

“I never joined an official club or something this big, and it’s felt really great to be involved with this thing,” Yau said.

Shelby County earlier Tuesday defeated Graves County for the PlayVS/KHSAA Esports Season One Rocket League State Championship. That match — a best-of-seven series — was contested remotely between the programs due to the distance between the two.

Boyle County won the inaugural esports championship after winning the “League of Legends” title in season zero, a pilot run for PlayVS and the KHSAA, in February. Going forward the KHSAA and PlayVS, which operates a Twitch live stream during championship events, plan to sponsor fall and spring seasons for multiple games.

Tuesday’s event was not without issue — technical difficulties delayed the start and interrupted the first game — but, overall, it was well-received by fans and participants.

“I think it’s pretty amazing that schools are supporting esports programs,” Sean Reardon, a Lafayette team member, said. “… These people who play the game absolutely love what they do, so giving us high schoolers this chance, I think it gives a wide perspective toward what our future job or whatever can be.”

Lafayette head coach Paula Sumner runs a gaming club at the school and helps coach soccer in the fall. She doesn’t know a lot about League of Legends, but was eager to be a mentor and self-described “team mom” for the squad.

“These kids, sometimes, they get lost in the mix, and this is something they can really excel at, so why not give those kids the opportunity to be successful and win a freakin’ state championship?” Sumner said with a grin. “You do it for the kids, always.”

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