High School League Season 2 was a national esports competition in New Zealand, where schools experienced the thrill of organised play. The finals took place on-stage in front of a crowd at Armageddon 2017 in Auckland. While you can read about the event from a students’ perspectives here, below we spoke to Danny Chang, physics teacher of Mount Roskill Grammar School, who attended the event with his students.
“To see this opportunity happening feels amazing. Back when I was a student gaming was frowned upon, but this is now a recognised competitive event. I hope it continues to grow.”
Chang is one hour away from seeing his students take part in the High School League Season 2 Grand Finals, and he’s stopped to take it all in.
“I think this has provided an opportunity that never existed before,” he says, reflecting on how playing competitive League of Legends has helped his students.
“Academia is important, but as a teacher I must prepare them for the future. This has helped them with communication, collaboration and organisation. Their self-motivation and proactiveness has been great.”
This has helped them with communication, collaboration and organisation. Their self-motivation and proactiveness has been great.
In total, 75 different high school teams from across the North Island and South Island took part in High School League Season 2, with hundreds of spectators gathering to watch and celebrate the teams’ performances.
Learning From Mistakes
Chang helped manage the Mt Roskill team as they fought their way to the Premier League Grand Finals. He leaves the tactics to his players, who know their way around Summoner’s Rift, but when things go wrong he helps the team work together to solve problems.
“We want to foster a team mentality,” he says. “The responsibility should not be placed on one player. I try to direct players to think that losing is not only one player’s fault.”
We want to foster a team mentality, the responsibility should not be placed on one player.
“I have forced the players to approach me as a team of five – they must be proactive and show a willingness to work together. Even if they lose, playing together has so much learning value.”
Chang has also been impressed by his team’s willingness to really focus on how they can improve, which isn’t always something that comes naturally in academia.
“Students don’t like to look at their mistakes,” he notes. “They don’t like to analyse mistakes in general. But with gaming, they are more happy to look at their mistakes. Reflection is key – part of the practice is to analyse your games and reflect upon your mistakes. This is a very valuable skill that can be transferred across study, life, relationships and careers in future.”
Reflection is key – part of the practice is to analyse your games and reflect upon your mistakes.
Developing Transferable Skills
One obstacle Mt Roskill had to overcome was their own success. At the end of High School League Season 1, their star player Vinson “Kedu” Feng left to join Team Regicide in the Oceanic Pro League, forcing them to bring in a replacement and spend time learning how to play together again.
“His success has turned around quite a few staff, who now consider this as a potential career,” says Chang.
In the end, all that practice paid off, as Mt Roskill were able to overcome Mt Albert in the Premier League Grand Finals and clinch the High School League Season 2 crown. (Meanwhile, Northcote defeated Aquinas in the Challenger League.)
For Chang though, the experience has been about much more than success on the Rift. He sees it in his players, and his advice for other teachers who are interested in High School League is to focus on the full range of benefits that this kind of competition provides.
“I would suggest to future teachers that our aim should not be winning,” he says, “but instead thinking about how students can learn from this process.”
“I am proud of where my team is today, but winning was not the ultimate goal,” he says, speaking before the finals have actually been played. “Winning in my opinion is a bonus.”