After going undefeated in every match in the regular season, tying for first place out of more than 1,500 students, George Kagler qualified to participate in the High School Esports League Championships on June 13, 2020. He competed virtually in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate— his forte — and won 4-2 over his competitor in a best of seven play.
Anyone who knows Kagler is likely to be familiar with the strength of his video gameplay. After every LAN party when students would take to the podium at Morning Meeting to announce winners, no one seemed able to unseat an undefeated Kagler in Super Smash Bros, a multiplayer combat video game series published by Nintendo.
After speaking with Coach Brian Schwartz, we learned a little more about how Kagler was able to defeat his opponents and earn his first place title.
"It's not just that he's very skilled," said Schwartz. "He's really dedicated to this and does his research. His mom shared with me that he had made a full sheet of notes on his opponent the night before the game. He watched his game footage to see how he plays and studied his technique."
This was clear to Schwartz when Kagler lost his first round but came back to win again and again. Kagler picked up very quickly how his opponent was playing and adapted his strategy to be a better competitor.
The match was streamed with announcers on the High School Esports League's official Twitch channel, and several of Kagler's teammates and fellow students tuned in and even cheered him on in the side chat.
Kagler also qualified to compete in last year's playoffs, taking home 9th place in the country for Super Smash Bros. As a rising senior, he has another year of great competition ahead of him, possibly longer should he decide to compete in college.
Taking home first place in the nation earned Kagler more than well-deserved kudos, applause and a chance to ring that Victory Bell; Kagler will receive $1,000 in scholarships and an even better chance for college recruitment. On the High School Esports League Competition page, you can find colleges seeking to recruit talented players with some even offering scholarships up to $10,000.
Schwartz shared how proud he is of Kagler not only for his victory but for being such a great representative for the school and our esports team, which is relatively new but growing.
"It's really encouraging to our esports athletes to have such a great victory so early on," he said. "I think our esports offering is something that really excites so many of our kids. Our students get to participate in something they love, build communication skills and teamwork and be a part of something meaningful — the same way they might on the basketball court or the soccer field. I think it's great that students like George are finding their way to be amazing athletes and that we give them that chance."
Congratulations to WRA's first esports national champion!