Esports league launched in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

What has flashy visuals, excited kids, and a ball that’s bigger than a car? It’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ new Esports league, which officially kicked off Wednesday.

Esports are basically competitive video games, and Esports leagues have started popping up in school districts across the country. In CMS’ inaugural season, the students will be playing Rocket League. The game is a new take on soccer, where players drive virtual cars (equipped with rocket boosters) to maneuver a large ball into a goal.

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“I’ve seen the power of esports and the positive similarities it can have with traditional varsity sports in my own family,” CMS Athletic Director Ericia Turner said in a statement. “I knew making the launch of this first-of-its-kind league across CMS a priority would enable us to harness the power of meeting these students where they are, while still relaying the powerful lessons of communications, leadership and teamwork varsity sports can provide.”

According to the district, more than 500 students in CMS signed up to play in the league, and about 100 students were selected to play for their respective schools. The league will have divisions for Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Club level at each school.

In addition to the Rocket League matches, CMS says each high school will compete in STEM challenges.

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“The Varsity eSports & STEM League will allow us to reinforce STEM concepts that are taught in our CTE courses while leveraging student interests in sports and gaming,” said Toni Hall, the district’s CTE CS and IT Pathway Lead.

CMS is launching the district’s first Esports league in a partnership with Carolina Esports Hub, Stiegler EdTech, and Tepper Sports & Entertainment. Tepper’s involvement makes this the second inaugural sports season they’ve been a part of this year after Charlotte FC kicked off its first Major League Soccer season, and the involvement makes sense after Charlotte FC signed professional FIFA player Khaled Ali to its eMLS team in 2021.

We don’t expect to see a packed crowd of 74,000-plus in Bank of America Stadium for an Esports match, but the games will be broadcast online Wednesday evenings on Twitch. You can view the matches at this link.

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