New College Pontefract has setup a competitive e-sports team, the NCP Pirates, which runs as part of our comprehensive enrichment programme. Adam Watkin, Teacher of IT and Computer Science, explains more about the venture below:
“The British E-sports Association Student Championships have been running since 2018 and have been on our radar since 2020 when the e-sports BTEC qualification was announced. I have been an avid games player since childhood and follow some e-sports, so when the championships became something I was aware of, I took the opportunity to offer it as an enrichment to students as this is a massive part of their culture and the competitive play element is gaining in popularity all the time. “
“The competition features four main games, Overwatch, Rocket League, League of Legends and Valorant all of which are highly competitive team sports in which teamwork and communication (2 of the 5 core employability skills in our OPTIC programme) are essential elements to ensure victory.”
“As students have had to provide their own laptops to play on this year, we have fielded 3 teams in the championships. 2 teams for Rocket League (3 players per team) and an overwatch team (6 player team).”
“The teams play their weekly fixtures on a Wednesday evening, the top teams then enter play offs which culminate in a live final in July at Confetti Institute in Nottingham to win some British esports merchandise, a trophy and mentoring from a professional e-sports team to help players enter the industry.”
“We have played schools and colleges from across the UK with the furthest afield opponents so far being Edinburgh College in Scotland and Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli, Wales.”
“This year has very much been a testing of the waters for us, to see the level of performance of other teams across the country to give us a position to build from. With new computers arriving in September, it will open competing up to a lot more students which means a lot more talent coming through as we won’t need students to bring their own equipment. We have done fantastically well this year, with 2 teams making it to the last 16 in Division 3, with one of those (Overwatch) into the last 8 quarter finals. In future we would like to win a division at the live final and it’s a real shame my overwatch team is now in year 13, as given another year I think they could compete at the top level. But just seeing these groups of students come together and develop new friendships and the way they have developed their skills, team work and communication has been amazing to witness and shows the power of e-sports.”
“We are investigating the potential to offer e-sports as a qualification and look forward to one day being able to run it! Competing in the student Championships is a requirement of the course and means that we can really start to work on developing raw e-sports talent into the top level competitors of tomorrow.”
Head of the Creative and Digital Technology School, Anna Levick-Briggs, said, “At the start of the new academic year we will be opening two new Game Design classrooms. These rooms will be kitted out with very high spec PCs that will allow our students to produce high quality 3D modelling and create playable games. We will also be opening our new gameplay room. These rooms will be for Games Design students and the hub for the e-sports team.”
Alfie Chamberlain (Team Captain): I have loved the whole experience with the team, our competition, and tournament. Everyone is great to play with and against. It’s been a truly wonderful time. We’re here to have a good time but making them regret opening the game is also nice.
Ewan Pollard (Rein Main): Its been a great opportunity that the college has offered us with e-sports. I have made a group of new friends and we have really developed as a team. It’s been a lot of fun meeting teams from around the country. And beating them. I am hopefully of winning this week as we would like to make the live final as a last big thing before we finish our time at New College.