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The Student News Site of Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan

The Lance

The Student News Site of Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan

The Lance

The Student News Site of Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan

The Lance

Golden Gaming

How Community Impacts NVOT’s Esports Club
Elaina Bob
The Omega Strikers Winning Photo

On Monday, February 26, NVOT’s Omega Strikers division finished in the top four teams in New Jersey’s Esports ranking. Teams fought their way through a 3v3 soccer-like match, using special skills such as rockets and slimes to defeat their opponents. 

Despite their months of practicing and overcoming challenges, the driving force of the team was togetherness. The division began as a group of friends playing video games together, but made their way to becoming a top Omega Strikers division thanks to their hard work and belief in one another. 

Club advisor Jeffrey Lai said, “I believe a lot of the success of the Omega strikers division came from a combination of the chemistry between the team members. They would consistently find ways to practice together, discuss new strategies, and keep a positive attitude when in difficult situations.”

Their abilities, practice, and especially their communication skills were what brought the Omega Strikers team to victory. The team was a group of friends who enjoyed spending time together, which helped to strengthen the team’s ability to overcome tricky situations, and maintain a good headspace when competing.

Community in Esports has always taken a backseat to competition. However, as more members join and make life-long friendships, the community in Esports becomes more apparent. The club offers a variety of competitive divisions, including, but not limited to, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (SSBU), League of Legends (LoL), Valorant, and Overwatch. But the club also has its share of community-based divisions, including Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), Jackbox, Magic the Gathering (MtG), and Hearts of Iron Four. 

That growing community faced its first test last summer, when the threat of funding cuts loomed over the group. 

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  • Mario Kart Division (Liam McCormack and Matthew Maniscalco)

  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Division (Marcus Machado and Maeve O’Neil)

  • Hearts of Iron Four Division (Padrick O’Neil)

  • Magic the Gathering Division (Jackson Mendoza and Danu Kim)

  • Dungeons and Dragon Division (Joseph Genco, Maeve O’Neil, Padraic O’Neil, Matthew Maniscalco, Liam McCormack, Alexander Woods, Hayden Rubino, Silvia Earle, Alexei Lainof, Mr. Lai)

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Mrs. Rosalia Bob, alongside a few other mothers, came together to advocate for the Esports club’s funding a few months prior to the 2023-2024 school year. When explaining her reasons for aiding the Esports club, Mrs. Bob said, “It’s a fun outlet for kids to do things that they like for fun, playing video games, playing different types of role playing games, and they get to bond together.” 

Ms. Jodi McCormack, another parent who wanted to help the club said, “I contacted some of the moms so we could put our heads together. I then contacted the club supervisor, Mr. Lai, to see if there was anything the parents could do to remedy the situation. We all set up a meeting and even offered to pitch in and fund the club if need be. We ultimately decided to wait until the fall to confirm whether the club would return or not…and luckily, it did!”  

While NVOT’s Esports linked parents together to ensure the survival of the club, members themselves continue to find links together.

Jackbox, in particular, is a division in which community is more present than competition, which is why members come back. “What kept me coming back to the Jackbox was that I could see a growing community that was slowly getting larger and more open, and I liked seeing how it grew and evolved overtime,” said sophomore Gavin Carney, a member of the Jackbox division.

“I don’t like having to pour my blood, sweat, and tears into some competitive game facing other people,” said junior Gavin DePinto. “I just like to have a good time and play casually.” DePinto is a leader of the Jackbox division, and works with its members to enhance friendliness, problem solving, and quick thinking. 

Community also boosts confidence levels and friendliness, which in return strengthens the bond of club members. Current Esports Co-President, Jillian Tan said, “building a community creates a space where members are a lot more comfortable exploring their interests and practicing new skills. It’s an incredibly strong motivator for students to pursue creative ideas and build skills while doing so.” 

This growth has been shown in the club’s members themselves. “When I started, I was scared to talk to people. I went to the first meeting that I saw, which was the Super Smash Bros

Ultimate division,” said junior Cooper Young, division leader of Jackbox and Mario Kart. “I kind of just sat in the corner hoping someone would come and make me play with them. Nowadays, I make myself play with people. It’s helpful, especially when there are people who feel the same way as I did when I was first coming into the fold.”

Community played a big part not only in the club maintaining itself, but also in growing its population. Senior Scarlett Osso found herself drawn to the community since it was a place she could express her own ideas. She said, “I liked the idea that I could make myself a giant werewolf, and nobody questioned that.” Having a judgment-free and welcoming air to the club helps bring in new members, which results in the expansion of the club. 

Other new members to the club have expanded on this idea of drawing members in, such as freshman Alexei Lainof, who explained that “I was drawn in because all my friends had joined a division, Maeve, Paddy, and Silvia. I stumbled into one of the meetings one day, and thought it was fun, so I joined.” 

A community can help things run smoothly and, as in the case with the Omega Strikers team, can help propel something newly developed to a higher level. “Although we didn’t win the finals, I’d say that making it there as a team in the first place really helped everyone’s bond with each other and the depth of our club as a whole,” said junior Marko Huzovic, one of the spokespeople for the Omega Strikers division. Even though the Omega Strikers division might not continue due to technical difficulties (the game’s servers are shutting down), they are happy to take what they’ve learned from the division and apply it to not only other divisions, but the rest of their lives as well.

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