LUDOWICI — Growing up (or even in the present), people would get together with friends for tournaments in the latest video games like Madden, NBA 2K, and Mario Kart.

Now, the video game has evolved with the installation of E-Sports (short for Electronic Sports).

It has gained popularity in Asia, growing strongly in China and South Korea.

Players can even win E-Sports college scholarships.

The GHSA added esports as a varsity sport four years ago.

Long County High School has elected to participate under the guidance of Caleb Bailey in the third official season of GHSA.

“E-Sports is for competitive video games,” Bailey said. “It really took off in the last ten years. It has become a vocational thing and now colleges are offering scholarships for it. Ever since I saw the GHSA offering it on Twitter, I thought to myself, “We have to have it here because the kids would love it. I emailed and they had an interest meeting a month later. We wanted to participate in Season 0, but we were still very new to it and didn’t know how much money would go into it. There will be two seasons, one in the fall and one in the spring. I’m going to be the head coach for the spring season. I was one of the few teachers who knew about video games that could make this a pretty successful thing.

As a distance sport, competitions will take place at participating schools.

Super Smash Bros., Rocket League, and Madden will be played in a series-style situation.

“All competition will be at our respective schools up to the state championship round,” Bailey explained. “It’s a bit like tennis. One player plays another player from the other team – the best two out of three. And then overall, it’s a two out of three better team. On Wednesdays we will play Super Smash 3v3. Rocket League is the best on five three against three. Madden’s best two of three, one-on-one.

Jumping in Season 3 for GHSA, Bailey has playoff aspirations and wants to create the family atmosphere that is shared in other sports.

“The expectation that I told the players was the playoffs. We’re going to make the playoffs in one if not every three games,” Bailey said. “The kids are playing at home. So might as well do it as a team and build relationships and memories. I want them to feel just as much part of a team as if they were playing football, basketball or baseball. But I also want to win too. Something is expected to be done. The way the playoffs work isn’t the top 16 or 32 teams. The number of teams in a dividable bracket is how many can make it. So if it’s 65 teams that play in Madden, 64 make it. So it “There’s a lot of room for us to make the playoffs. We just have to show up and do what we have to do. Our goal is to win a state championship, but I’m not expecting that this year.” But I would like to take home a trophy All the children are sub- classes. They can improve and we can improve our technology as we go. It’s going to take a commitment from these guys and our admin.

Everyone plays video games.

So practicing at home is essential.

“A lot of these kids already have Switches or PlayStations at home,” Bailey said. “It’s really important for them to keep playing and training at home because we only have an hour here once a week. We’re going to take it very seriously here. He’s vital for our success. they’re training at home. They don’t even realize they’re practicing. You can’t ask a footballer to go home and train. It’s different. We struggle to do that in so kids are watching football at home but these kids are playing Switch and Rocket League during class so it’s going to be trying to get them not to during class rather than do it at home. They do it every day anyway.

The inaugural Blue Tide E-Sports team is gearing up for its first season which kicks off in late February.

“Right now we’re in pre-season,” Bailey said. “And we can continue to have scrums right now if we want. But the first official game day would be February 21. The schedule will come out when the GHSA does. We can take on anyone who creates one on PlayVS. There are college and professional teams there. I would love scrum and pro team just so they can understand that they are really good teams. Right now I would expect to play someone like Wayne County and Liberty. They all have teams.

The first contest will take place on Monday, February 21.