Rangitoto College esports can expect a surge in profile following their maiden HSL victory.
The co-educational school from Auckland’s North Shore edged Mt Albert Grammar School 2-1 in the grand final of the HSL’s Premier Division last week to claim the title.
It capped a remarkable finals performance from Rangitoto who entered the knockout phases as underdogs.
But they put their collective names on the map when they beat defending champions Mt Roskill Grammar School 2-0 in the semifinals.
That set up the encounter with MAGS and they ensured they kept up their strong form, proving themselves as the country’s top school when it comes to League of Legends.
Stephen Gardiner, a commerce teacher at Rangitoto who runs the esports programme, said the victory had helped drive interest in gaming at the college.
“It already has, especially among the staff. Many staff weren’t even aware that esports in general is a thing, and that professional players and teams exist,” Gardiner said.
“Having esport matches broadcast on Sky Sport, and some big prize pool competitions, is very much helping show that esports is real and is starting to become mainstream enough to be taken seriously.
“For our students it also helps show that winning in esports is achievable, and there are some good prizes and recognition to be won.”
Gardiner said the Rangitoto team developed a strong game plan to help them through the finals with a central theme of working together.
“Our team is full of highly-ranked individuals, but their success is a result of their improvements in working together as a team and having a united strategy.
“They started planning and practicing in advance with which tactics to use against particular teams and how to react to certain situations. Coming in to the finals was very much ‘no risky plays’.”
As for the grand final, Gardiner said the team was pleased to be able to put their name on the shield.
“They were absolutely ecstatic ??' as soon as they could see they were going to win they started celebrating.
“In the stream you can see our team captain shaking his fists with joy and leaving his chair about 10 seconds early as he knew MAGS had no way of coming back.”
Rangitoto weren’t one of the obvious favourites at the beginning of the split but they have taken part in every edition of the HSL since the competition began last year.
Gardiner said this victory should provide them with more respect ahead of the next split, set to get underway in term three in late July.
“Of course, although there will always be trolls and haters. Mt Roskill always had an edge due to their ex-pro player, but we have highly ranked players too. The Auckland teams tend to have the highest-ranking players and thus are likely to be the most competitive.”
Given the previous dominance of Mt Roskill – they won both splits last year – Rangitoto’s victory has thrown the HSL wide open as we move towards the next split.