The aim is to play for a living
- Teaching and instruction
– I would like to play games for a living one day, but I still have a long way to go.
This is the dream of 17-year-old Gregor "ImOrbital" Kõrge, who studies e-sports at Leppävaaran lukio.
E-sports refers to electronic sports, basically playing games on computers.
The sport has been growing fast in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has further boosted gaming, as other recreational opportunities for young people have mostly been unavailable. Young people are also attracted by information about the millions in prize money that can be won in e-sports competitions.
Some youngsters take gaming more seriously than others and even aim to be professionals one day. Leppävaaran lukio provides one way to do this, as the sport can be studied there for 30 credits. In Leppävaara, they study Counter-Strike, a very popular game among youngsters and young adults.
– I started studying e-sports because I wanted to learn more about the game, says Kõrge. He continues: What has been fun in the studies is that you study different smokes as a team and then play against each other at the end. The studies have been really nice, and I have benefited a lot from them.
Smokes mean practising throwing in-game accessories, such as smoke grenades, with a team.
Interested students are interviewed
There are currently 15 e-sports students in Leppävaara, from grade 1 to grade 3.
Those interested in e-sports studies must first apply to Leppävaaran lukio upper secondary school during the joint application period, which will be 22 February to 22 March 2022. It is only during the first period of the studies that students are selected for e-sports coaching.
Next autumn, around 10 new students will be selected for the coaching. Students are not required to be in Leppävaaran lukio sports line, but they can also apply for e-sports coaching from Leppävaaran lukio general line.
– Each interested student is interviewed to find out their motivation and desire to practice, says Christian Joutsenvuori, founder of Incoach, a company which organises game coaching courses.
The e-sports athletes are provided in the upper secondary school with e-sports coaching and physical training. The e-sports coaching takes place three mornings a week for 1.5 hours at a time. In addition, the school physical education teacher is responsible for physical training.
Important aspects to teach players are eye-hand coordination and mental balance. The coaching of e-sports athletes has focused on in-game teamwork.
– It’s hard to get teamwork experience when you’re playing single. The youngsters are taught how to work as a team, what their role is and how to keep a cool head, says Joutsenvuori, summing up the main objectives of the studies.
According to Joutsenvuori, physical training is also done with e-sports-twist – it helps players to perform better in-game.
Thousands of playing hours
The differences in skill levels between the students are not a problem.
– There might be thousands of hours of differences between the students, but they get on well and the more experienced ones are happy to teach the others, says Joutsenvuori.
The e-sports students have a mechanical test at the beginning, middle and end of the academic year to measure their accuracy and speed.
Can the studies in Leppävaara lead to the fabulous prizes that the best e-sports athletes seem to get these days?
– As in any other sport, a small percentage of athletes will be awarded prize money. Basic income is easier to get than before, says Joutsenvuori.
Many e-sports athletes have progressed to semi-professionals, getting paid by an organisation, which in turn collects income from sponsors. E-sports athletes bring visibility to the sponsors at live events and on social media.
A male-dominated sport
Leppävaara’s e-sports students are currently all boys and young men.
– I first found the spark to play when I saw different videos of others playing, recalls Kõrge.
Joutsenvuori admits that the entry threshold seems to be quite high for girls. It is a great shame, he underlines and continues:
– The gaming culture has always been male-dominated and there is much room for improvement in the gaming environment, but nowadays there are also separate tournaments for girls and women.
Joutsenvuori hopes that girls will also be brave enough to apply for e-sports studies at Leppävaaran lukio.
What is e-sports?
Electronic sports are competitive sports using information technology. Electronic sports are played in both team and individual formats, depending on the game and the format. The most common electronic sports games are computer or console-based entertainment games that fall into several genres.
- General Upper Secondary Education
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