The Cambridge High School eSports Rocket League team won the regional championship last Sunday and will now advance to the state championship May 20-21 at the University of Akron.
The team of seniors Briley Hamm and Andrew LaPlante and junior Brayden Wagner defeated Lordstown High School 3-1 in the regional semi-final and then smoked Alexander High School 4-0 in the final.
“With as good of a team as we have, we did not expect too much of a challenge at regional,” said eSports advisor Zachary Boyd. “We were thinking we’d end up going to the state tournament.”
Members of the Cambridge High School eSports team compete in the Rocket League Regionals in Columbus
The state championship this weekend is the first-ever OHSAA recognized eSport state championship for Rocket League.
For those that have been following the Bobcats, it should come as no surprise that the Rocket League team won the regional tournament. They have destroyed pretty much every high school team they’ve faced this season and have defeated Ohio University, Marietta College, Ohio State University and Alabama University Rocket League teams in scrimmages in the past month.
“I reached out to OU eSports coach and explained that I am an alumnus and coaching,” Boyd explained. “I told them how talented our rocket league team is and that we don’t see a lot of competition at the high school level. I told them we were trying to prepare for the post season and started a conversation with them about a potential scrimmage and it’s grown from there as we’ve been able to scrimmage several college teams.”
Clearly, playing against college teams does not intimidate the Bobcat team as they have defeated the teams they scrimmaged.
“I play on another Rocket League team, and we play against college teams all the time,” Wagner said.
“I already play college players at my rank,” Hamm explained. “So I’m used to that.”
The team advanced to regionals last year with Hamm and LaPlante leading the way and then added Wagner, a transfer to Cambridge from Florida, this season.
Wagner, who plays about four hours of Rocket League per day, has been ranked in the top 100 in the world for most of the year. Hamm, who fits in Rocket League practice around school and work, is also high up in the world rankings. The two, along with LaPlante, take care of business when they team up.
“Briley is a really great Rocket League player,” Boyd said. “We competed at regionals last year, and that was mostly Briley carrying the team and Andrew is pretty good as well.
“Last year, near the end of the year, Wagner moved into the district and Brayden is actually a higher ranked Rocket League player than Briley,” Boyd explained. “Now, we have two kids who are college level Rocket League players.”
In fact, Hamm has already signed a national letter of intent to complete for Muskingum University next year along with teammate LaPlante. And what a luxury to have so much talent on one high school team.
“We are all business,” Hamm said. “We go in and handle business pretty easily.”
The team competes in the eSports Ohio league which has teams playing several different titles. According to Boyd, there are 86 high school teams competing in Rocket League. The Bobcats went 7-1 in Rocket League matches this season with the only loss being impacted by missing players.
“They are pretty confident they are going to win a state championship,” said Boyd. “I don’t want them to be overly confident, but I think we have a good chance.”
The rest of the eSports team includes Brandyn Law, Nathan Dovenbarger and Chance Totman who will occasionally sub into the line up on the Rocket League team, but also enjoy participating in other gaming titles.
The eSports team at Cambridge High School at the Rocket League Regional Championships in Columbus. Team members are (left to right) Brayden Wagner, Andrew LaPlante, Chance Totman, Briley Hamm, Brandyn Law, Nathan Dovenbarger, and advisor Zachary Boyd. Image Caption
“We are hoping to grow the program next year and participate in some additional titles,” Boyd said. “eSports Ohio has six or seven different games, and they added two new games this year. We can participate in more titles, its just a matter of time and money.”
This year Downtown Arena purchased jerseys for the team. More sponsors are welcome.
In addition, grant money was used to purchase some gaming equipment at the Middle School where students can participate in eSports in the CATS Club afterschool program and the CATS Camp summer program.
“The Middle school gets quite a few kids in the afterschool program, but we lose some to other sports and activities,” Boyd said. “We are considering taking a middle school team and competing through the eSports Ohio league at that level.”